Just In Time For Playoff Push, Giants’ Run Game Finally Arrives
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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — After watching Eli Manning carry the offense with his arm for the first three quarters of the season, the Giants are finally showing signs of life in the run game.
For only the second time this season, the Giants (7-6) head into Sunday’s game against Washington (4-9) coming off consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts as a team.
“I thought we started to run a little bit better against Green Bay and I thought it was continued improvement in this game,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said of Sunday’s 110 yards on the ground in the Giants’ remarkable 37-34 win over the Cowboys. “We don’t have huge stats, but I’m looking for consistency. I thought for the most part we got that.”
Brandon Jacobs was outstanding in the game, rushing 19 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback win that vaulted the Giants into first-place in the NFC East.
New York — still ranked last in the league in rushing offense, averaging 85.8 yards — had gained 100 yards rushing against Green Bay, after failing to hit the century mark in the three previous games.
The big difference seems to be new line, the fifth starting combination used this season.
David Diehl was moved from left guard to left tackle three games ago after Will Beatty suffered a detached retina. And then, the left guard and center positions were switched the following week when David Baas suffered from severe headaches and continuing neck problems.
That forced offensive line coach Pat Flaherty to move Kevin Boothe from left guard to center, with second-year pro Mitch Petrus taking over the guard spot. Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie remain at the right guard and tackle spots, respectively.
The line opened a couple of excellent holes that allowed Jacobs to get through the first level with some speed and forced the Cowboys defensive backs to come up and stop the 260-pound back.
“I think we have guys in the right place,” Jacobs said. “I think guys are working hard and doing everything they can to make the run game work. I think the offensive line is doing a fabulous job of moving people out of the way and I think E (Eli) is doing a great job of getting us in things that we need to be in. Our coaches are confident in what we are doing and I am confident in what we are doing.
“We just have to keep going.”
Jacobs also ran as hard as he has all season in getting most of the carries with Ahmad Bradshaw sitting in the first half because of disciplinary reasons. There were no signs of the hamstring injury that bothered him for a couple of weeks.
Redskins defensive tackle Barry Cofield, a former Giant, said watching New York’s run game is a shocking, considering Tom Coughlin’s team always was among the league leaders.
“It’s just not like them,” Cofield said. “They’re not the team that they used to be. They used to pound the ball, and I’m sure they would love to get back to that. … I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come out and see them pound the ball.”
Gilbride and Jacobs feel the running game has only taken baby steps. It still has to improve, especially with the Giants next three games being at MetLife Stadium where the wind can make it tough to throw.
“It can be a factor here, weather wise,” Gilbride said. “That’s where you would like to be able to run the ball, but regardless of that, you always would like to have the ability to force people to play honestly. To do that, you have to be able to run the ball a little bit. I think the fact that we did it a little bit better (against) Green Bay, did it even a little bit better last game is a good sign. We’re headed in the right direction.
“We’re not where we want to be, but we’re headed in the right direction and I think that just makes us more difficult to defend.”
Having a run game will make Manning twice as dangerous in a season in which he has already thrown for 4,105 yards and 25 touchdowns.
“It’s a different team. It’s just a completely different look. They’re playing differently,” Cofield said. “They’ve got a lot of different faces in there because of injuries and things like that, and it seems like Eli’s matured, a couple of seasons’ worth of maturity in one year, with how well he’s playing down the stretch this year.”
NOTES: DE Osi Umenyiora probably will not play this weekend because of a high ankle sprain and Baas also seems unlikely the way he talked after missing practice on Thursday. … DE Justin Tuck is nursing a sore toe and probably will be a gametime decision on Sunday. … A subdued Perry Fewell, the defensive coordinator, says his unit has not played a complete game this season. … S Kenny Phillips (left knee) hopes to play Sunday after missing the Cowboys’ game.
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