By Paul Dottino
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EAST RUTHERFORD – Now what? The Giants have lost two straight games in different fashion, but ugly just the same.
Getting blown out by the defending AFC champion Indianapolis Colts on the road is rough, although it’s got to be easier to digest than returning home and doing nearly everything possible to self-destruct in a 29-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The positives, if there were any, for coach Tom Coughlin to take from this one are that his players did not quit and that his team was unified in taking responsibility for tossing away the game. No sense in belaboring any points here, so let’s get to our weekly awards/demerits:
Offense – TE Kevin Boss. He showed no ill effects in his return following a one-week absence because of a concussion. In fact, he provided a huge spark on the Giants’ opening drive with a 54-yard catch-and-run (on a deep post pattern) that likely had a few folks talking about Mark Bavaro or Jeremy Shockey. On the play, Boss dragged defensive backs Jason McCourty and Michael Griffin several yards before hitting the turf. (Note to you younger folks: It was an exciting and impressive play, but Bavaro was responsible for making eight defenders look foolish on his trademark catch-and-run in San Francisco, but feel free to call this one Shockey-like.)
The bad news is that Boss didn’t have another reception until the Giants were two scores down in the fourth quarter.
Defense –OLB Keith Bulluck. In playing his most snaps of the season, Bulluck showed his former team that he’s still got gas left in his tank while doing a terrific job in helping to contain running back Chris Johnson (32-125). Johnson broke off a 42-yarder on the nearly meaningless final scoring drive during which he had five carries for 53 yards.
Bulluck only finished with six tackles on the stat sheet, but he was active and lit a fire under a defense that kept the Giants in the game despite numerous offensive mistakes. Defenders were in Johnson’s cutback lanes all day, something Bulluck was able to emphasize in deciphering how to limit his former teammate.
Special teams – KOR Darius Reynaud. It’s hard to find a game ball for this horrendous unit. We’ll give one to Reynaud for his somewhat impressive 31-yard kickoff return after the Titans tied the game at 10 early in the second quarter. See what I mean about horrendous?
Offense – RB Ahmad Bradshaw. Every dynamic play he was able to make with the ball gets wiped out by his fumble at the Tennessee 5 and his chop block in the end zone (resulting in a safety), both in the third quarter. Let’s get to the safety first.
It was a close call as Chris Snee barely was in contact with lineman Tony Brown as the time Bradshaw took out the defender’s legs – but it wiped out a 43-yard bomb to Mario Manningham, put the Titans on top, 12-10, and Tennessee took the ensuing free kick and marched 49 yards for a touchdown. The fumble? You can ask Tiki Barber how Coughlin feels about those. Later, down 19-10, the Giants march from their own 11 to the Tennessee 6 when Bradshaw loses the ball on the doorstep in what really became the offense’s last gasp to make it a game.
Defense- CB Corey Webster. This a real tough one because the defense truly played well enough to win, but we’re going to go to Webster. He was the target for three catches on the Titans’ third-quarter scoring drive, including a sensational high 13-yard stab by Kenny Britt for the touchdown that made it 19-10.
Special teams – Coordinator Tom Quinn. Where else can you turn after the whole unit continues to find ways to fail? We’ll simply point to two of the more disappointing plays without getting into Lawrence Tynes’ missed field goals (53 wide left, 44 wide right). The Giants closed the first half with a TD to tie the game at 10, but allowed Marc Mariani to return the opening second-half kickoff 45 yards to the Titans 48, allowing them to tilt the field – significant because the Giants took over at their own 1 after a punt and then got caught in the Bradshaw safety/penalty.
The coverage team looks as if it’s running downfield without any assertiveness about what to do. Early in the fourth, the Giants got flagged for a delay-of-game penalty on a field goal, turning a potential 38-yarder into a 43 yarder that missed. Not good.
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