Reporting Paul Dottino
By Paul Dottino
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Obviously, the Giants are auditioning for the latest edition of Football Follies because they’ve put together a rather impressive collection of bloopers this season – with each reel being almost more unbelievable than the previous one.
Let’s see. They hold the Philadelphia Eagles to 3-of-14 on third down, recover two fumbles, collect three sacks while not allowing any, give up one pass plays of more than 24 yards, limit scrambling quarterback Michael Vick to 34 rushing yards and still find a way to lose, 27-17. Turnovers, dropped passes and poor gap control will do that do a team.
So this leaves the Giants, who have lost back-to-back games for the second time this season, at 6-4 and on the outside of the NFC playoff picture, the vehicle in which they originally hoped to star. Let’s get to the review.
Offense – C Rich Seubert. Let’s start by saying the Eagles were unable to sack QB Eli Manning, despite sending an array of blitzes on nearly two-thirds of the Giants’ snaps. Seubert had the difficult job of making line calls to unit that was playing its second game together and he would have received heavy consideration for this piece of work itself. Now, throw in his two fumble recoveries and this was an easy choice. Seubert grabbed an Hakeem Nicks fumble to convert a third down at the Giants 47 with nearly 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Giants on top, 17-16. And nearly five minutes later – with the Giants down, 24-17 – Seubert was able to cover up a loose ball at the Giants 40 on the back end of CB Asante Samuel’s interception.
Defense- DE Justin Tuck. Another easy choice and we didn’t need to look at the stat line to figure it out, but we’ll recite his numbers anyway: seven tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. No doubt, an NFL defensive player of the week performance if the Giants had won. He separated the ball from Vick with a third-down sack twice in the fourth quarter. On the second snap of the period, he got to the quarterback and Barry Cofield recovered at the Eagles 27 to set up the Giants’ go-ahead touchdown. On the ensuing drive, Tuck knocked away the ball from Vick again, but the quarterback recovered at his own 30 with 10:22 left.
Special teams –CB Terrell Thomas. On the final play of the first half, he came off the right edge of the defense and blocked David Akers’ 42-yard field goal attempt to keep the deficit at 13-3. It was the only one of five tries Akers failed to convert on the night.
Offense –QB Eli Manning. We’re going to put his three interceptions aside for just a minute so we can get him an appointment with a major league base-running instructor who can teach him how to slide FEET first. His failure to lead with his feet on a slide against the Eagles has cost the Giants for the second time in two years. This time, he aborted the potential tying TD drive when he scrambled 16 yards to convert a fourth-and-6 from the Giants 44 and voluntarily dropped into a horizontal slide. The ball popped free from underneath him and DE Darryl Tapp recovered with 2:51 remaining.
Last year at Giants Stadium, Manning lost the ball while going to the turf after contact by Brodrick Bunkley – and was charged with a fumble because he didn’t go feet first. (Note to the NFL: If you really want to protect quarterbacks, they need to be ruled down at the starting point of their slide, regardless of which body part comes first! But maybe the commissioner is too busy trying to figure out how to export more regular games overseas.) How did Manning repeat a similar mistake?
“No reason, I have to slide,” Manning said. “Sometimes you’re just going with your momentum and you’re trying to get us much yardage as you can and you’re just kind of running and it comes to the point where you don’t want to slow down, or maybe it’s too late, and you just go down the fastest way you know how to. It has happened to me before, I just got to not worry about the yardage, we already have the first down and I need to go feet first and move the chains.”
As for the three interceptions? Samuel blanketed Nicks and jumped inside his curl route at the Giants 23 in the second quarter. With nearly 4 minute left in the game and the Giants down by 7, Manning’s pass over the middle deflected off WR Derek Hagan and DB Joselio Hanson’s helmet to Samuel at the Eagles 43 before Samuel was stripped by Ahmad Bradshaw. Then Stewart Bradley intercepted a desperation throw to Hagan with 1 second left in the game.
Manning has thrown 16 interceptions this season – seven have been the result of tipped passes.
Defense-LB Michael Boley. He got caught making an inside move and left his rushing lane on both of the Eagles’ touchdowns, including LeSean McCoy’s go-ahead 50-yard burst through the left side with 4:34 to play. On fourth-and-1 from the 50, Boley immediately charges inside while S Antrel Rolle races into the box and hurls himself over the center – both are looking for an interior rush, likely a Vick sneak. But Vick gives the ball to McCoy, who runs through a gaping hole on the left side as TE Brent Celek ties up Boley in traffic on the inside, LT Jason Peters blows out S Deon Grant and LG Todd Herremans wipes out S Kenny Phillips. There’s nobody else to help because Rolle was blitzing on the play – that’s why it’s called a “zero blitz.” In the first quarter, Boley took an inside move and lost contain as Vick bolted wide around the right edge and scrambled for a 4-yard TD and a 7-0 lead.
Special teams –Matt Dodge. He continues to provide a mixed bag of results, although his two gaffes didn’t cost the Giants in this game. He shanked a 25-yard punt after the Giants’ opening possession and ripped off a 60-yarder for a touchback – AFTER he muffed the snap for the second time this season – with 8 minutes to play. Dodge’s other two punts went for an impressive 56 and 67 yards.
- Vick, McCoy Lead Eagles To 27-17 Win Over Giants (cbsnewyork.com)