By Curt Macysyn
The New York Giants quest for the post season is over. The Giants loss at the hands of the San Diego Chargers 37-14, coupled with wins by the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, means that New York is on the outside looking in at the NFL post season party. In fact, Big Blue has not made the playoffs in three of the past four seasons.
Adding salt to the wounds of Giant fans is the fact that whoever hoists the Lombardi Trophy at MetLife Stadium in February will not be their beloved G-men. But that fact cannot surprise followers of the team.
Like most substandard efforts this season, this loss was a total team failure, as offense, defense and special teams were all equally inept. While coaching has not previously been brought into question, the fact that there are several recurring themes that show up each week would suggest that a coaching remedy is in order. The Giants coaching staff appears to think that these issues will somehow work themselves out, and that philosophy has cost the team a shot at the post season.
Offense Grade: D
The offensive line continues to be a problem for New York as guard James Brewer was wholly ineffective throughout the game. Brewer was not the only weak link, as David Diehl and Will Beatty also suffered through sub par efforts. Beatty also committed his weekly false start penalty.
Eli Manning was given credit for an interception on a pass that clearly could have been caught by Rueben Randle. Randle’s lack of focus came in a scoreless game, when the Giants had just gotten a rare big play from Hakeem Nicks, in the form of a 51-yard reception, that moved New York deep into San Diego territory. The Chargers took New York’s gift and drove for the game’s opening score. Regardless of what the final outcome might have been, the play itself was a game changer and swung momentum in the Chargers favor.
But perhaps nothing encapsulated New York’s season more than a careless Andre Brown fumble that was not called on the field by the game officials. So instead of getting to the line of scrimmage to snap the ball, the Giants allowed the clock to run down to the two-minute warning, like nothing had happened. After having adequate time to review the replay, Chargers head coach Mike McCoy asked for a booth review, which the Chargers won. Brown’s fumble led to a last-minute score by San Diego and an insurmountable 24-0 halftime lead.
Again this week, Eli Manning was slow to get an audible called at the line of scrimmage, and New York had its weekly delay-of-game call on the offense. What was perplexing about the delay of game is the fact that the Giants were trying to rally from a 17-point deficit when the infraction occurred. This team continues to display an alarming lack of urgency with regard to the level of effort necessary to win games.
In the “too little, too late” category, Hakeem Nicks caught five passes for 135 yards. Nicks still does not have a touchdown catch this season, however.
The offensive highlight of the day was Manning’s five-yard touchdown strike to tight end Brandon Myers. Peyton Hillis showed good second effort, as he bulled his way in from a yard out for the other Giants score.
Defense Grade: F
Speaking of recurrences, only three members of the defensive unit continually show up: Antrel Rolle, Justin Tuck and Jon Beason. Tuck had two more quarterback sacks, while Rolle and Beason had 10 and nine total tackles respectively. Beyond those three players, the defensive effort was well below par.
Mathias Kiwanuka had his weekly personal foul penalty that cost the Giants field position. And outside of Beason, the linebacking corps was again ineffective. The trio of Keith Rivers, Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams do not shed blockers and are unreliable in pass coverage. Paysinger had a pass interference call in the end zone that set up a Chargers touchdown. The position requires a personnel upgrade in the off-season.
Inexplicably, the entire secondary laid an egg in this must-win contest. First, Terrell Thomas was out-muscled and out-hustled by rookie Keenan Allen for a 43-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter. Then Prince Amukamara got twisted around and lost Allen for his second TD of the game with less than four minutes left in the second quarter.
Then with 19 seconds left in the half, Trumaine McBride blew the coverage of Danny Woodhead out of the backfield, and Rivers found the diminutive running back for a six-yard touchdown pass that put the Bolts up 24-0 at halftime. Woodhead has 65 catches on the season, so any defensive game planning would have taken him into account.
For good measure, Woodhead showed great determination when the shortest man on the field out-hustled Jayron Hosley for a jump ball on a 39-yard pass reception on third down in the fourth quarter. The Giants were outwilled by the more desperate Chargers all afternoon, despite the fact that both teams were fighting for their playoff lives.
Overall, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 75 percent of his passes (21-28) and had a quarterback rating of 137.4. The run defense was no better, giving up 103 yards on the ground to Ryan Mathews (1 TD), and another 42 rushing yards to Danny Woodhead.
Highlighting the defense’s inability to get off the field was the fact that San Diego punted only once in the contest.
Special Teams: D
Rookie Charles James lined up offside on a missed Nick Novak 41-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter. Given a second opportunity from five yards closer, Novak nailed a 36-yard field goal to put the Chargers up 10-0. Kick return specialist Michael Cox averaged an unimpressive 18.8 yards per kickoff return, with a long return of 23 yards. The Giants have no play-makers on their special teams units, so they cannot count on a jump-start by way of a kick or punt return for a touchdown.
Steve Weatherford punted three times for a 47.0 yards per kick average and has been consistently good over the past month.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.