Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC East [Print without images]

Sunday, December 22, 2013
Halftime thoughts: Go figure this

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

DETROIT -- They lost their top wide receiver to injury last week and are down to fourth-stringers on the offensive line. So of course, the New York Giants look as good as they've looked on offense at any point so far this year. They're showing good run/pass balance, using the run game and moving quarterback Eli Manning around to keep him away from pressure. They're moving the ball, they're 5-for-8 on third downs, they haven't turned it over and they didn't give up a sack until there were 27 seconds left in the half. They hold a 13-3 lead over the Lions at halftime.

Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, considering they have been one of the worst offenses in the league and are playing this game severely shorthanded. When the inactives were announced 90 minutes prior to kickoff, right guard David Diehl was on the list. He was replaced in the starting lineup by untested 2012 fourth-round pick Brandon Mosley, who lasted only one series before breaking his hand and being replaced by Dallas Reynolds. So that's the third different starter they've had at right guard since Chris Snee's season-ending injury.

But somehow, the protection is holding up. Cruz's replacement, Jerrel Jernigan, is playing tough downfield against a depleted Detroit secondary and Manning is getting just enough time to find him and Hakeem Nicks. The Lions have turned the ball over twice on a Reggie Bush fumble and a Matthew Stafford interception. The Giants cashed in the first of those with a Manning-to-Jernigan touchdown pass, and cashed in the second with a 52-yard Josh Brown field goal.

The Lions obviously have a lot of problems right now. After a brutal home loss to the Ravens on "Monday Night Football," they have spent the first half of this game shooting themselves in the foot. They have squandered an opportunity to win the NFC North with division-rival quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler having missed significant time due to injuries. And while the Lions desperately need this game (and help) to keep their postseason hopes alive, New York is the team that looks as though it's playing for something. Detroit also is missing starting cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Chris Houston and saw backup cornerback Bill Bentley and starting safety Louis Delmas head to the locker room with head and elbow injuries, respectively, that leave them questionable to return. So there's reason to believe the Giants can keep the offense coming in the second half if they can keep protecting Manning with their banged-up line. Detroit is also missing many of the playmakers who could generate turnovers in the secondary, so there remains a chance that the Giants could go turnover-free for the first time this season.