Sunday, November 25, 2012
Halftime thoughts: Giants look fantastic
By Dan Graziano
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants appear to have done their homework during their bye week. Lackluster losers of two straight November games heading into their Week 11 bye, the Giants have come roaring out of the gates tonight to take a 31-10 lead over the Green Bay Packers at halftime. ESPN North blogger Kevin Seifert, seated to my right here in the MetLife Stadium press box, reports that the 31 points are the most any team has scored against the Packers in a game this season. To repeat, it is halftime.
What has gone right for the Giants? Just about everything. They have sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers three times, and the third one came equipped with a forced fumble by Osi Umenyiora that set up Ahmad Bradshaw's 13-yard touchdown run in the half's final minute. They have a Corey Webster interception to go with the fumble. Eli Manning, who hadn't thrown a touchdown pass since Week 7, has thrown one each to Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz. Bradshaw has 56 rushing yards and Andre Brown 27 behind a fired-up offensive line that's blocking as well as it has in any game all season, and Bradshaw also picked up 59 on a screen pass on the Giants' first possession of the game.
Early on, when Jordy Nelson whipped Webster for a 61-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7-7 in the game's first five minutes, it looked as though this might be a shootout between two of the game's top offenses. But it has quickly swung the Giants' way. They looked energized and sharp, smoothly working their way in and out of various personnel groupings on offense and defense, and they appear to be confusing the Packers on both ends. Middle linebacker Chase Blackburn has one of the sacks and has been integral to the pressure they've been able to put on Rodgers. And Randle, the rookie second-round pick out of LSU, looks as though he might be developing into a reliable third wide receiver option. He is sometimes on the field even when Cruz is not, and his presence on the outside opposite Hakeem Nicks can enable the Giants to deploy Cruz in the slot, where he can get mismatches against linebackers and safeties.
The Packers are obviously never out of a game with Rodgers and all of their offensive weapons. But they're outmanned tonight with key players such as Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson out of the game with injuries. And if the Giants can keep the run game going the way it's gone so far, they should be able to control the clock enough in the second half to prevent a three-touchdown comeback. A Giants victory would keep their lead in the NFC East at two games over the Cowboys and Redskins with five games left in the season.