By Paul Dottino
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Forget whatever you have heard or read about a second-half swoon. The Giants’ problems are not about a jinx or the calendar. There are many players who are not playing any where near their capabilities – and yes, a few of them are playing injured – so they are going to have to use the bye week to right themselves or there won’t be any playoffs.
The Giants were horrible in all phases of the game in falling to the Bengals, 31-13. Cincinnati clearly played with more enthusiasm, energy and intensity throughout the day. But this was a road game and it came after what the Giants termed a “painful” loss to Pittsburgh – they usually respond very well under such circumstances. Not this time.
Perhaps the only rational explanation is that the Giants truly are beaten and battered – physically, mentally and emotionally – from a 10-week regular season stretch that featured a revolving door of injuries and historic weather issues. Let’s get to our review:
Offense-RB Andre Brown. You could not ask for any more from him: seven carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. He also caught five passes for 29 yards. Clearly, he was more involved in the offense than in recent weeks, given Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot appeared to be more of a concern. All but two of Brown’s touches came with the Giants trailing in the second half, but he still deserves credit for his performance.
Defense- LB Chase Blackburn. This is more of a reward for his toughness than anything. He fought through a hamstring issue at practice during the week and gave everything he had in the game, finishing with seven tackles. Midway into the first quarter, he also forced a fumble on a punt return.
Special teams-S Will Hill. Hill returned from his NFL-imposed four-game suspension and recovered Blackburn’s forced fumble on Brandon Tate at the Cincinnati 27 with the Giants down, 14-0.
Offense-QB Eli Manning. It’s never only the quarterback’s fault. So many things are going wrong with this unit right now, however, there is no doubt that he made two horrible throws on his two back-to-back interceptions in the third quarter after the Giants fell behind, 17-6. He should have taken a sack inside his own 15 when he had a hurried toss tipped by DE Michael Johnson and picked off by DT Pat Sims – the Bengals scored a TD three plays later for a 24-6 lead. On the Giants’ next series, Manning under threw a covered Martellus Bennett and DB Nate Clements grabbed the ball at the Giants 37. Cincinnati scored another TD three plays later and it was 31-6
Defense-The unit. It would be wrong to point fingers because there aren’t enough to point. The Giants got off to a bad start on the game’s first series when S Stevie Brown did not come over top and behind CB Corey Webster on A.J. Greene’s 56-yard go route for a TD. Things got worse from there.
Special teams-RB Andre Brown. Again, we could give out a bunch of laps, here. But Brown missed a tackle that would have prevented Pacman Jones’ 68-yard punt return that set up the Bengals’ second touchdown for a 14-0 lead.
Has the Giants’ bye week come at the ideal time for them to turn things around? Sound off below…