Sunday, October 27, 2013
Halftime thoughts: Giants in control
By Dan Graziano
PHILADELPHIA -- Until the past two weeks, you thought the New York Giants had a quarterback issue. But after watching Minnesota on "Monday Night Football" and the Philadelphia Eagles so far Sunday, those 15 interceptions Eli Manning threw in the first six games don't seem like such a big fiasco anymore, do they?
A strong defensive game plan and execution have helped the Giants take advantage of the Eagles' quarterback mess, and the Giants have their second halftime lead of the season. They lead the Eagles 12-0 on the strength of four Josh Brown field goals.
Has it been pretty? Of course not. When you're 1-6, it's hard to make it look pretty. The Giants have outgained the Eagles 229 yards to 72 but have not scored a touchdown. They have seven penalties for 58 yards, including an astoundingly idiotic group celebration penalty after Antrel Rolle's first-quarter interception of Michael Vick. But the Giants are winning the game, and with an obviously injured Vick having already been replaced by rookie Matt Barkley, you have to like their chances of holding onto it.
The main reason is of course the defense. A Giants team that had nine sacks in its past 12 games and a league-low six for the season coming into Sunday, has two already in this game and also forced an intentional grounding penalty by Vick. Both of the sacks were by defensive backs -- Rolle and Terrell Thomas. Both forced fumbles, and Thomas' strip was recovered by Jacquian Williams deep in Giants' territory to snuff out a potential Eagles touchdown drive in the final two minutes of the half. The Giants' defense has struggled all season to pressure quarterbacks and to force turnovers, but it has managed to do both so far in this game.
On offense ... still a little spotty. But Manning looks much more comfortable, and I think you can tell by the way he's ducking pressure and keeping his eyes downfield while he does it. Peyton Hillis isn't going to run for more than what's blocked, but he does appear to be an asset in the passing game, both as an outlet receiver out of the backfield and as a blocker who can pick up the blitz. The Giants also are 5-for-10 on third downs, a very positive percentage for the third game in a row after ranking last in the league in that category through the season's first five weeks.
So it looks better, Giants fans. Though the best you can hope from the day is improvement to a dismal record of 2-6, at least there are continued signs that the rest of the season might be more watchable than the early part was. If the Giants hold this lead, they'll have won a road game and a second game in a row for the first time in 364 days.