NFC East: Giants-Saints 101809
|Matt Stamey/US Presswire|
|New York defensive back C.C. Brown was continually victimized by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees on Sunday.|
NEW ORLEANS -- I tried to ignore the fact the Giants built their 5-0 record against some rather questionable competition. But in the aftermath of a 48-27 drubbing by the Saints, questioning the Giants' status in the NFC is fair game.
Coach Tom Coughlin better hope the Saints are the best team in the league because they made it look easy against the (former) top-rated defense in the league. Moments after the game, at least one Giants defender was trying to recall if Saints quarterback Drew Brees was ever touched Sunday. Nope, Brees was long gone by the time linebacker Chase Blackburn recorded the first sack.
C.C. Brown was covering. And when that finally got old, he tossed a couple of touchdowns in cornerback Kevin Dockery's direction.
Brees was 23-of-30 for 369 yards and four touchdowns. He released the ball before there was anything close to a pass rush, in part, because receivers were allowed to race across the field unattended. He targeted Marques Colston and Lance Moore a combined 15 times -- and they caught 14 of those passes for 244 yards. Playing without injured linebacker Michael Boley, the Giants looked old and slow.
For reasons that were not explained after the game, the Giants allowed the Saints to lure them into a shootout. We'll never know what could've happened if offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride had slowed the game down with the running game, although I suspect the Saints would've prevailed. Under Sean Payton, the Saints had been notoriously bad -- Brees called them "awful" -- coming off the bye week. On Sunday, though, they were brilliant on offense and opportunistic on defense.
In wins over the Buccaneers, Chiefs and Raiders, the Giants were able to mask some of their weaknesses on defense. They signed Boley to a lucrative free-agent contract because he's capable of covering athletic tight ends and running backs in the open field. They knew Brown didn't have the coverage skills of Kenny Phillips -- out for the season with a knee injury -- but they hoped he could elevate his game. On Sunday, he looked completely lost. Even when he was in position, Saints wide receivers treated him as nothing more than a nuisance.
"We had two people in spots a couple of times on the deep ball and didn't make a play," Coughlin said after the game. "They would go up and get the ball and we're standing on the ground. We've got to locate the ball and get up as if the ball is ours."
Brown finished with a team-leading 13 tackles, but too many of them came after huge gains by the Saints. I kept trying to figure out why the Giants didn't give recent addition Aaron Rouse a chance to play. It seemed punitive to let Brown endure the Brees-led onslaught.
But to be fair, Brown had plenty of help. A somewhat questionable pass interference call on cornerback Corey Webster in the second quarter gave the Saints a 35-yard penalty and first-and-10 at the Giants' 12-yard line. They quickly made it 27-10 and the Giants were pretty much done.
NEW ORLEANS -- If the Giants are the best team in the NFC East, it's time to reevaluate what we think of the division. In what was billed as a measuring stick game for both teams, the Giants didn't even belong on the same field as the Saints.
From the opening drive, Saints quarterback Drew Brees served notice that he would shred what we believed to be one of the best defenses in the league. Once Brees located where Giants safety C.C. Brown was lining up, he went to town. I've never seen a defensive back have a worse game. Early on, Brees found Lance Moore for big gains. He then started dialing up Marques Colston, who's emerged as one of the best receivers in the game.
The worst part was that Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride somehow let themselves get lured into a track meet with the Saints. Instead of trying to slow things down with the running game, Gilbride tried to match Brees throw for throw. On this day, that was a huge miscalculation.
Saints coach Sean Payton softened up the Giants' defense with the downfield passing game and then he gashed them with the running game. The Giants better hope they just saw the best team in the league. Otherwise, they have a ton of work to do.
Brees was 23-of-30 for 369 yards and four touchdowns. Payton mercifully removed him from the game in the fourth quarter. The Giants actually had a brief chance to stay in this game late in the first half, but Eli Manning fumbled after being sacked by safety Roman Harper. The Saints quickly scored to make it 34-17 at halftime -- and didn't look back.
Giants backup David Carr tacked on a late touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks to make the score look a little better. But there's no dressing up this performance. The Giants were dominated at every turn.
NEW ORLEANS -- This was supposed to be a measuring stick game for both teams. Well, the Giants aren't measuring up at all. This is the first game we've seen how much they miss safety Kenny Phillips. But it's about more than that. Drew Brees has toyed with the Giants' secondary all day. And there's absolutely no pressure coming. Even when Bill Sheridan sends a safety like Michael Johnson, Brees gets the ball away quickly.
Some of us were touting Eli Manning for MVP heading into this game. Right now, my vote would go to Drew Brees. Oops, Kevin Dockery just bit on another play-action fake. Saints up, 41-17. Dockery was screaming at C.C. Brown after that play. I've never seen a safety have this bad a day. He has no clue what's going on. Why in the world wouldn't Coughlin put Rouse out there? Brown's been exposed since the opening snap.
NEW ORLEANS -- The 35-yard pass interference penalty on Corey Webster was the absolute killer on the Saints' latest scoring drive. The officials ruled that Webster didn't make an attempt to play the ball. Replays showed that Webster and receiver Marques Colston both changed direction when the pass appeared to be thrown to the wrong shoulder.
In changing directions, the two players' feet became tangled. Webster was called for pass interference -- and the Saints punched it in for a touchdown on a short pass to Lance Moore on a play where nickel cornerback Kevin Dockery appeared to bit on the play-action fake.
NEW ORLEANS -- The Giants desperately needed someone to make a play after falling behind 14-0 -- and Domenik Hixon was up to the task. His kickoff return gave the Giants the ball near midfield. But he'll take some ribbing in the locker room this week for not being able to get past Saints punter/kickoff specialist Thomas Morstead. The punter did a nice job of somehow grabbing Hixon's jersey as he ran past. That's when it helps to have a 6-4, 225-pound punter. Shout out to the SMU Mustangs on Morstead's behalf. Not exactly an NFL hotbed.
Giants were forced to settle for a 49-yard field goal from kicker Lawrence Tynes. On the previous play, the Saints broke coverage, allowing Steve Smith to get wide open for what would've been a certain touchdown. Manning felt the rush and put too much mustard on the ball.
Not a great start for the New Orleans native.
NEW ORLEANS -- The Saints didn't even need a huge play on that first drive. They absolutely dominated the Giants at the line of scrimmage in making it 7-0. And the running of Pierre Thomas almost seemed to catch the Giants by surprise. I thought it was important for the Giants to take the crowd of it early -- but that's not happening. Saints are up early, and the crowd's going nuts before every Giants snap.
The Giants came out and threw the ball on their first three snaps. Big drop by tight end Kevin Boss. I'm a little surprised the Giants didn't come out and try to establish the running game with Brandon Jacobs early. They finally got to him on second-and-long -- and he did a nice job.
On third-and-3, Manning tried to dial up Domenik Hixon on a deep post, but Saints cornerback Jabari Greer made knocked the pass away. Really nice play by Greer in single coverage. Pass may have been completed if Manning had put a little more on the pass -- but I'm not sure.
NEW ORLEANS -- Saints kicker Garrett Hartley is back from his four-game suspension, but he won't get the call today. The Saints will go with the venerable John Carney. He was one of the most accurate kickers in the league last season while playing for the Giants.
Normally, position players aren't seeking out kickers before games, but I noticed several Giants jogged over to say hello to Carney. So far this year, Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes has struggled with short field goals. The one advantage Tynes has over Carney is the ability to connect from 50 yards or more. At age 45, Carney doesn't have the range he used to.
Join us on NFL Nation Live for a live chat once the game begins.
NEW ORLEANS -- Hope all is well as we prepare for the best game of the week. I hate that it's starting at 1 p.m. ET, but Saints fans don't seem bothered. The tailgating was already in full force when I arrived at about 9:30 a.m. local time. On the way over, I bumped into the families of Giants defensive tackle Fred Robbins and running back Brandon Jacobs. This is a big game for Jacobs. He's come across as very thin-skinned with all this criticism of his yards-per-carry average. He needs to come out and have a big day. He'd love to do it in his native state of Louisiana. As we speak, a local marching band is putting on quite a show.
In case you're interested, here are the inactives:
Giants: WR Ramses Barden, RB Danny Ware, CB Aaron Ross, LB Michael Boley, T Adam Koets, T Guy Whimper, LB Clint Sintim, DT Chris Canty
Saints: Emergency QB Chase Daniel, CB Leigh Torrence, RB Lynell Hamilton, LB Lo-Lonn Dunbar, C Nick Leckey, DTKendrick Clancy, TE Darnell Dinkins