The New York Giants played some terrible football on Sunday. Not only did Eli Manning throw three interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown), but Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Vincent Jackson had his way with the Giants defensive backfield throughout the game. In short, the Giants appeared flat, and defeated for three quarters of the game.
However, in typical Eli Manning fashion, Big Blue scored 25 points in the fourth quarter to secure a thrilling 41-34 victory. While the Giants defense had their issues throughout the day, this unit came up big when it counted.
Needless to say, the Giants are not going to win many more games if they turn the ball over three times. There is a lot this team needs to improve upon if they want to survive the NFL's toughest schedule. That said, a win is a win, and the Giants needed one badly today.
Let's take a look at the good, the bad, and the mixed from today's matchup.
The Running Game- Ahmad Bradshaw went down early in the game with a neck injury. However, Andre Brown provided a much needed spark to a Giants offense that looked lethargic in the early goings. After David Diehl went down for the game, holes seemed to open up in the run game. Brown went on to average 5.4 yards per carry for the remainder of the game. The third-year product out of NC State ran with power between the tackles and provided a semblance of balance to a Giants offense that has lacked a consistent rushing threat.
Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz- The Giants dynamic receiving duo put on a show. Cruz was consistently open in the middle of the field, and scored his first touchdown of the season on an 80-yard pass from Eli Manning. He was a man on a mission today.
Hakeem Nicks had his way with Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib for most of the second half. Despite nursing an ankle injury, Nicks came up with a huge 50-yard reception that put the Giants in position to win the game with under two minutes to play. He caused consistent matchup nightmares on the outside for the Bucs throughout the game.
Jason Pierre-Paul- JPP was all over the field today. He came up with his first sack of the season on Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman. With that, he also came up with eight tackles on the day. While the Giants pass rush was inconsistent throughout the day, JPP was a force for the entire game.
Pass Rush- The Giants had trouble generating a consistent pass rush without blitzing. In fact, both of Big Blue's sacks came when defensive coordinator Perry Fewell called for at least five men to rush the passer. However, the Giants were unable to put pressure on Josh Freeman with soley the front-four down linemen. This is the second game in which the pass rush has been sub-par, so this may be an issues to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Injuries- The Giants suffered three key injuries early on in the game. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw left with a neck issue, wideout Domenik Hixon suffered a hit to the head and right tackle David Diehl left with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Andre Brown and Will Beatty came into replace Bradshaw and Diehl, respectively. Both players actually provided a boost to the Giants offense. However, the Giants need these players come back healthy to avoid becoming thin offensively.
Red Zone Offense- The Giants took five trips to the red zone and came out with field goals on four of them. With that, the only reason they came out with a touchdown in the red zone was because the Bucs allowed Andre Brown to score in an attempt to get the ball back late in the game. Eli Manning missed a wide open Ahmad Bradshaw in the first quarter that forced the Giants to kick a field goal, and the Giants dropped several passes that should have been caught. This aspect of Big Blue's offense must improve if the team wants to beat the elite squads on their schedule.
Eli Manning – Eli Manning threw three interceptions, one of which was returned 60-yards for a touchdown. However, he went on to explode in the second half to wind up with 510 passing yards for the game. As frustrating as it was to watch Eli potentially throw the game away in the first half, he played lights out in the fourth quarter. He won't be able to throw three interceptions and win many more games, but Eli did just enough to get the Giants a win today.
Martellus Bennett- Martellus Bennett dropped some key passes today, two of which would have resulted in touchdowns. However, he caught a huge 33-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning in the fourth quarter that gave the Giants a seven-point lead with under four-minutes left in the game. Bennett came up big when it counted, but he needs to improve his pass catching ability going forward.
Corey Webster- Webster got torched by Vincent Jackson several times throughout the game. He was a complete liability in the secondary at times, and did not look like he had improved from his poor Week one performance. However, he came up with a big interception on an ill-advised Josh Freeman pass. Webster needs to play better one-on-one coverage in the coming weeks.
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