By Paul Dottino
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Now what? Coach Tom Coughlin and his staff must figure how to stop what officially has become a losing streak, given the Giants lost their third straight – an embarrassing 49-24 defeat in New Orleans on Monday night.
That’s right. Back-to-back losses are not necessarily a big deal, but tack on a third and it’s officially a streak, no matter how you cut it. So the Giants are in a tailspin that threatens to dash their playoff hopes and ruin their season.
If there is any reason to think they will have a chance to salvage their goal it’s that they will play four of their remaining five games at their own stadium (three home games and a ‘road’ game against the Jets) AND they’ve got three divisional games, including two against the first-place Dallas Cowboys, in front of them.
So let’s get to our weekly review:
Offense – WR Victor Cruz. He stepped into the starting lineup when it was determined shortly before the game that Mario Manningham (knee) would not be able to play with a sore knee, as was hoped. Despite one second-quarter drop, Cruz picked up the slack to the tune of nine catches for 152 yards and two TDs, including a 72-yard catch-and-run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Believe it or not, that brings his season totals to 55 receptions for 957 yards and seven touchdowns.
Defense- None. There would be no problem if you wanted to name Jason Pierre-Paul or Prince Amukamara because they are very young players who gave everything they had for four quarters in the blowout. It’s certainly productive to watch players like this perform in an admirable way during a blowout. But we’ll opt to keep the game ball this week. The defense was atrocious, allowing 31 first downs and 577 yards (205 rushing).
Special teams-None. Rookie Da’Rel Scott would have been in line for this one, given his 28.8-yard kickoff return average on four tries. But guess what? He lost a third-quarter kickoff when he was stripped by Tracy Porter – the Giants lost a video challenge. So we’re taking away the game ball, even though the Giants were down, 28-10 at the time.
Offense – TE Jake Ballard. Ok, you say this isn’t fair because the offensive line and the running game collected just 73 yards on 22 carries. True, but the line also protected Eli Manning to the degree where he was able to go 33-of-47 for 406 yards and two TDs (with one INT) – with only one sack. So we’re going to point to the first hole in the Giants’ balloon – and it came at the end of their first scoring chance. New Orleans failed on a fake field goal on the game’s first drive, the Giants took over from their own 10 and marched downfield. One first down from the Saints 18, Manning slightly under threw Ballard on a post route and the tight end failed to fight for the ball, allowing linebacker Will Herring to make an athletic interception in the end zone. At worst, this should have been an incompletion. At best, a touchdown. It became a turnover.
Defense – The entire unit. Where was the pass rush? Where were the physical jams at the line of scrimmage? Where was the fire with which this unit was expected to play with, realizing they had a difficult task in front of it? The key drive of the game came just before the half, when the Saints went 88 yards in six plays, capped by Lance Moore’s 10-yard TD catch to make it 21-3. QB Drew Brees took over from his own 12 and found Marques Colston three times (beating CB Corey Webster on each throw) for 78 yards. The first down pass was a short toss to the left sideline – and Webster whiffed on the tackle, allowing it to become a 50-yard gain to the Giants 38 and prompting the crowd to erupt. To make matters worse, the drive ended with what apparently was a busted coverage as Moore scored.
Special teams- P Steve Weatherford. The punter apologized on his Twitter account after the game for running with the ball on a fake punt that had been called off near the end of the third quarter. Down, 35-10, the Giants had a 4th and 7 from their own 33 and Coughlin said Tyler Sash called off the fake, adding Weatherford “claimed” he didn’t see the signal. Weatherford ran for no gain to the right side.
Coughlin said the move was “foolish” and “a very bad play on his part.”
How do the Giants ‘right the ship’ against the Packers? Leave a comment below.