Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Updated: October 13, 10:31 AM ET
Ball security key for Giants against Bills
By Ohm Youngmisuk
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants are coming off a game in Week 5 in which they committed five turnovers.
They led the NFL last year with 42 turnovers. And this week they face a Buffalo Bills team that flaunts an NFL-best 16 takeaways.
Head coach Tom Coughlin was asked if he's stressing ball protection more than usual this week.
"Usual is a lot," Coughlin said.
The Giants have made protecting the football as big of a priority as finishing games this season. And on Sunday, the Giants' offense will be tested as an aggressive Bills defense will surely try to do whatever it can to force turnovers.
This season, Buffalo has 12 interceptions, 10 coming in the last three weeks. The Bills (4-1) have intercepted Tom Brady and Michael Vick four times each.
And the Bills have scored a touchdown off an interception in their last three games against the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles. Buffalo is No. 1 in the NFL in turnover differential at plus-11 on the season.
So it's understandable if Coughlin nags his offense to take care of the ball even more this week.
"They've got 12 interceptions so they're doing a great job in the secondary," Coughlin said. "A lot of tipped balls. They've been Johnny-on-the-spot. They've really reacted well with the ball in the air. They've closed on the ball, taken advantage of a bunch of those opportunities and put themselves in position where they've given up yardage, but because of the turnovers, they've kept the opponent out of the end zone."
Nobody knows more than Eli Manning about tipped passes ending up in interceptions. Of Manning's 25 league-leading interceptions last year, nine came off tipped passes.
"They are fast," Manning said of the Bills' secondary. "They run around and they make plays. They are stripping balls from guys or just being around the ball and getting it tipped up. We have to make sure that we are careful with the ball. The receivers have to watch it all the way in and myself throwing it in the right spots, being accurate and making sure I am making the right reads."
Manning was a victim of another tipped ball for an interception last week when he tried to squeeze a pass to Victor Cruz, who slipped and got one hand on the pass before watching it bounce into Brandon Browner's hands for a 94-yard interception touchdown return in a 36-25 loss to the Seahawks last Sunday.
The Giants turned the ball over five times and let a game they could have won slip away.
The Bills should provide the Giants with a stiffer test than the Seahawks. Buffalo's offense is averaging 32.8 points per game. However, as opportunistic as the Bills have been, their defense is allowing 24 points and 421.8 yards per game. Buffalo has allowed opponents to average 138.4 rushing yards a game.
So this week is a good time for the Giants to finally get their running game going. Ahmad Bradshaw is still searching for a 100-yard game but the Giants offensive line is banged up. Pro Bowl right guard Chris Snee is recovering from a concussion he suffered at the end of Sunday's loss. And center David Baas just returned to practice on a limited basis after missing the Seattle loss with a neck/burner injury.
With the running game struggling, Manning has had success moving the ball through the air. But he will have to navigate the airspace carefully against Buffalo if the Giants want to win going into their bye week.
"Got to have great communication between quarterback and receiver," Coughlin said. "It's got to be decisive. Brady had four interceptions against them, so they obviously do a good job of that. So you work very hard to put yourselves in position where you're not so contested that the ball ends up being tipped."