The New York Giants dropped to 2-2 and 0-2 in the division in brutal fashion on Sunday night, as they were about three yards short of being 3-1 on a Lawrence Tynes 54-yard field goal attempt. Ramses Barden became the scapegoat late in the game. After the Giants got two pass interference calls in their favor, Barden committed an offensive pass interference that put the Giants out of field goal range. My question was – why are the Giants going deep in that situation to begin with? That type of unnecessary risk is something you rarely see from Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin in late game drives.
Today, we take a close look at the Giants' week four loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and what we saw in all phases of the game from Big Blue.
Key Reason for Loss: Poor offensive execution and decision making
First and foremost, the third down offense was just some of the worst we've seen from this Giants offensive unit in quite some time. Two for ten on third down is not going to keep you in many football games, yet the Giants still had a shot to win this game on the final drive. The running game continues to fail to be an asset for the offense which certainly isn't helping their third down production.
Eli Manning had an interception in the red zone that took points off the board after what was the Giants most impressive drive of the night to that point. Finally on the final drive, we saw something extremely rare – as Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning both made what look to be poor decisions in hindsight. They've been so good in late game situations over the past couple of seasons that it was almost shocking to see Manning throw a dangerous ball towards the end zone when the Giants had a 44 yard field goal attempt in hand, and even more shocking perhaps that Tom Coughlin did not insist that the team run the football on that second down and pick up a couple more yards to put the kick very comfortably in Lawrence Tynes range. Instead, Manning took a risk and threw the ball down the sideline, Nnamdi Asomugha got in good position to pick it off and Ramses Barden committed an offensive pass interference costing the Giants ten yards on the kick.
These are things you rarely see from this Giants football team in close games and in the fourth quarter.
- Very quietly, Prince Amukamara had one of the best 60 minute performances of his young career. He did an extremely solid job when matched up with Jeremy Maclin and I saw a lot of physical play from him on the outside.
- David Wilson is a flat out threat on kick returns and he's added a brand new element to this Giants football team in the field position game. If he gets the slightest crease he can get skinny and explode through the hole with his speed and power to break through arm tackles. He was a huge positive coming out of this game, it was extremely disappointing to see the Giants come up with just 17 points with the type of field position he gave New York on the night.
- Domenik Hixon looks like the Domenik Hixon of a few years ago when he was a real big play threat on the outside for this Giants offense before his ACL injuries. He's very quick and crafty and clearly can make plays when he gets one on one matchups. Victor Cruz also played well for New York, proving to be a real Eagles killer with nine more grabs against them and a touchdown.
- Steve Weatherford was solid as you've come to expect from him with a couple of punts dropped inside the twenty along with a sixty yarder.
- Stevie Brown has brought another physical presence to the Giants secondary. A lot of intense, active play from him.
- 20% on third down. Can't say it enough – that's just not going to cut it. Especially for a talented offensive group like this.
- The Giants couldn't run the ball or stop the run on Sunday night. That's an understatement. The offensive line got very little push in this game, and defensively – LeSean McCoy was getting far too much space on the outside to make defenders miss as there was a real lack of discipline in the Giants front seven in terms of containment, particularly from Osi Umenyiora.
- The first time this year that Eli Manning makes it into this section of the game review, as his interception in the red zone and risky throw down the sideline to Barden on the final drive proved to be two big daggers for the Giants in the fourth quarter.
- The offensive line has got to play more physical and smarter. It's becoming a theme here with this group and that's got to be a concern for head coach Tom Coughlin. Holding penalties at inopportune times, and an inability to force defensive linemen back in the red zone where the offense needs the big guys most. Extremely disappointing play.
- Look, Tom Coughlin, by my estimation, is one of the three best coaches in the game without question. That being said, even he made some mistakes Sunday night – particularly on that final drive when the Giants went to a deep throw on the second down and then didn't attempt a third down play after the offensive pass interference that put them back ten yards. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but at the very least the Giants should have avoided taking a shot on a bad matchup for them in Ramses Barden vs Nnamdi Asomugha on the outside. They were already in reasonable field goal range. Throw the check down for five or run a draw and spike the football and your chances increase dramatically in that situation.
- Where is Justin Tuck, and where is the consistency from this Giants pass rush? This is the bread and butter defensively and it's just been a very inconsistent unit all year. The Giants are not going to be an elite football team without the pass rush playing at a much, much higher level.
PLAYER OF THE GAME – WR Victor Cruz
Nine receptions, over 100 yards, and another trip to the end zone for Cruz who really shows up for these divisional football games. Regardless of where he lines up and who he's matched up with, Cruz finds a way to be a headache for opposing defenses. Nice job from start to finish.
OVERALL PERFORMANCE GRADE
It's just as surprising as it is disappointing that the Giants offensive attack and pass rush have both been extremely inconsistent this year. Eli Manning lighting up the scoreboard and the Giants defensive ends creating havoc – that was the recipe for success for this Giants team down the stretch last season and they have not had that on a consistent basis this year.
Giants really shot themselves in the foot in this game, but they also were not able to slow down LeSean McCoy and the offense came up with an unacceptable 17 points after getting great field position all game thanks to the electric play from rookie David Wilson on special teams.
Don't blame Ramses Barden for this one. He felt that the ball might be intercepted and what he did was understandable in my mind. That being said, it probably should have never got to that point. The good news is – the Giants very rarely mismanage those situations and often things go the other way.
But New York lost this game on the ground, in their third down inefficiency, and the shortcomings in execution and decision making late in the ball game. That's what it comes down to.
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