NFC East: 2011 Week 5 Rapid Reaction

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants' fourth-quarter magic disappeared as the Seahawks stunned Big Blue 36-25.

What it means: The Giants lost a game that they simply should not have. Credit the Seahawks for coming to play but the Giants started the game slow and allowed a Seattle offense that hadn't done much this season to come to life. The Giants had a three-game winning streak snapped and their schedule won't get any easier come November.

Cruz up and down: On a third-and-13 at the Giants’ 32, Eli Manning threw a ball into double coverage and Victor Cruz answered the prayer with a bobbling, one-handed catch for a 68-yard touchdown off a tip to erase a 19-14 deficit with 12:37 left. The Giants went for two and got it to go up 22-19.

Cruz, though, lost a fumble in Giants territory that led to a Seattle field goal that tied the game at 22.

But trailing 29-25, Cruz delivered with yet another scintillating 41-yard catch to put the Giants at the Seahawks' 24-yard line with 1:55 remaining. He followed that up with a 19-yard catch but then slipped and could not gather a short pass that bounced off his hands and into the hands of Brandon Browner, who returned it 94 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.

Ugly start: The Seahawks could’ve had 28 points in the first half but fumbled twice in the red zone. The first time, Marshawn Lynch was stripped by Osi Umenyiora at the Giants’ 13 not long after Manning had fumbled to give the Seahawks the ball deep in Giants territory.

Then the Seahawks, up 14-7, turned the ball over again as Michael Robinson fumbled at the Giants’ 2-yard line in the second quarter. The Giants were sloppy with the ball, as well. Manning fumbled twice, losing one, while also throwing an interception in the first half.

Where’s the defense? The Giants entered this game intent on stopping the run after being gashed in consecutive weeks by LeSean McCoy and Beanie Wells.

But in the first half, the Giants had trouble with the no-huddle. Lynch had 68 yards rushing on his first five carries. The Seahawks had 242 yards of offense in the first half. Seattle came into the game last in the NFL in total offense, averaging 254 yards per game.

The defense played much better in the second half, in part due to Tarvaris Jackson leaving in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and being replaced by Charlie Whitehurst. But Whitehurst led the Seahawks on an 80-yard drive for a touchdown to go up 29-25 late when he found Doug Baldwin open for a 27-yard touchdown.

Injury report: The Giants played this game without defensive end Justin Tuck (neck/groin), running back Brandon Jacobs (sprained MCL) and center David Baas (neck/burner).

Long-snapper Zak DeOssie left the game with a head injury and fullback Henry Hynoski left with a burner. Guard Chris Snee also left late in the game with an injury.

What’s next: The Giants face a much stiffer test next week when the much-improved Buffalo Bills come to town. Perry Fewell will get a crack at the team he briefly coached as interim head coach.

Rapid Reaction: Bills 31, Eagles 24

October, 9, 2011
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles' latest crushing loss, this one to the Buffalo Bills.

What it means: It's tough to see a way back from here for the Eagles. They showed in the second half that they have the talent to score and play with anyone, but they've just made too many mistakes, too many bad plays and missed too many tackles so far this year, and they're 1-4 with a tough division road game looming next week. They're going to have to be nearly perfect from here on out to have a chance to rebound and make the playoffs, and they're a long, long way from anything resembling perfect.

Same old Eagles run defense: We knew Buffalo running back Fred Jackson was likely to have a field day against the Eagles' 30th-ranked rushing defense, and he did, ripping off 58 first-half rushing yards and adding 22 more on his first run of the second half as the Bills built a 28-7 lead. Part of the reason the Eagles got back into the game was because the Bills went away from the run game in the fourth quarter for some reason in spite of how well it had worked. The Eagles made more tackles and more plays in the second level of their defense Sunday than they have been making, but it remains clear the middle of the defense is soft and can be run on almost at will.

Tale of two Vicks: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was a mess in the first half, throwing three interceptions and badly mismanaging the clock in the final minute before halftime. But he came out of the locker room a new man, running the offense more confidently, efficiently and safely. He managed to find DeSean Jackson, a top weapon who's been missing too much this year, and LeSean McCoy on some underneath routes, and he took off himself on a 53-yard run that set up a score. Vick's play in the second half was the reason the Eagles got back in the game, but his play in the first was a huge part of the reason they were so far down in the first place.

No margin for error: The fourth interception wasn't Vick's fault, as Jason Avant had the ball in his hands and the Bills ripped it out. But the mistake as the Eagles were driving toward a potential game-tying touchdown just goes to show what the Eagles are right now -- a team that keeps putting itself in a position where it can't afford even one mistake. The offsides call on fourth-and-inches was another illustration of a team that doesn't have control of itself right now, and teams like that don't come back from 1-4 starts.

What's next: The Eagles travel to Washington on Sunday for a vital intradivision game against the Redskins. After a couple of games in a row against teams that don't bring an inordinate amount of pressure, Vick is likely to take a large number of hits from Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and a Washington defense that was tied for the league lead in sacks entering this week's games. The Redskins are also coming off a bye and will be well-rested, which works against the Eagles after this grueling game.