By Curt Macysyn
The Seattle Seahawks are hardly a likable bunch, especially on defense, as evidenced by Kam Chancellor’s cheap shot on Jerrel Jernigan in garbage time against the Giants. Then again, no one said that Seattle was intent on heading east in order to make friends either. With the New York Giants playing the role of benevolent host to perfection, Seattle rolled over the G-men, 23-0, in an ugly affair at the Meadowlands.
New York was shut out for the second time this season; the only two shutouts in the entire NFL this year.
Seattle served notice to the rest of the league that they continue to maintain a “take no prisoners” attitude in the season’s stretch run, as they completely suffocated New York offensively. The Giants offensive line was the main culprit in this defeat, as New York’s offense crossed the 50-yard line for the first time with eight minutes left in the game.
Offense Grade: F
The statistics, or perhaps more accurately, the lack of statistics for the Giants offensive unit are as astounding as they are depressing. First, quarterback Eli Manning’s passer rating was an abysmal 31.9, and the veteran signal caller was intercepted by the Seahawks defense five times.
But the effort of Seattle’s defense was more opportunistic than anything. The Giants could not pass protect or run block against the Seahawks front four, so the unit could not get out of its own way for most of the afternoon.
And when Manning had a sliver of pass protection, he either threw an interception, or his receivers could not hang onto his passes. Manning passed for a paltry 156 yards, but he was certainly not helped by his receiving corps, who were clearly psyched out by the aura of the Seahawks defensive unit. Not only did Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Jerrel Jernigan all drop catchable passes, they were also outfought by the Seattle secondary on four of Manning’s interceptions.
Manning leads the NFL with an unsightly 25 interceptions, and the five-interception afternoon was a career-worst for him as well.
Big Blue’s rushing attack was not any better as they gained a mere 14 yards on the ground. Andre Brown had no running lanes to speak of and finished with 17 yards on 11 carries, averaging a scant 1.5 yards per carry. Jerrel Jernigan came on for an injured Victor Cruz, who left with a possible concussion, and led the offense with seven catches for 67 yards. Peyton Hillis had a couple catches out of the backfield for 24 yards.
Rueben Randle was invisible all afternoon and had zero catches in the game.
Defense Grade: B
The Seattle offense certainly did not dominate the New York defense. The proof lies in the fact that Seahawks Jon Ryan punted seven times in the game.
Statistically, Marshawn Lynch only gained 49 yards on the ground in 16 carries, for a lower than normal 2.9 yards per carry average. But Lynch did have six catches for 72 yards out of the backfield, as Seattle took advantage of Russell Wilson’s mobility and the lack of coverage skills of the Giants outside linebackers. Also, Lynch willed himself into the end zone from two yards out in the second quarter to put Seattle ahead 10-0.
The Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson did not light up the scoreboard statistically either. Wilson was 18-for-27 for 206 yards with one touchdown in the air and had 50 yards rushing, which led Seattle. To his credit, Wilson managed the game well, even if he was not as accurate as he normally is.
The Giants defensive squad has found its pass rush of late, as the unit sacked the elusive Wilson four times and broke down his pocket on several other occasions. Safety Antrel Rolle had an interception of Wilson, his sixth of the season, which puts him in a tie for the NFL lead. Rolle continues to push for a Pro Bowl berth and had seven tackles on the afternoon, giving him 86 total tackles on the season.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara had to come off the field in the second quarter as he became ill on the field and on the sidelines. Amukamara did finish the game with four tackles. Terrell Thomas seems to be wearing down as the season progresses and had only three tackles on the day.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell pulled safety Ryan Mundy out of mothballs. The Giants safety had been seeing time only on special teams recently. Mundy was put into the base defensive unit and responded with six tackles and a quarterback sack.
Special Teams Grade: C
Steve Weatherford continued his solid play with eight punts with a 47.8 yard average, but Seahawks return specialist Golden Tate did average 10.3 per return. New York’s defense was constantly behind the eight ball as Seattle was effective in playing the field position game.
Jerrel Jernigan replaced Michael Cox as the kick return specialist. Jerigan averaged 24.7 yards per return, and it would make sense for the Giants to continue to use him in that role, since he shows some break-away potential.
Much is made of the Seahawks stingy punt return defense that came into the game only surrendering 15 total punt return yards on the season. But Jon Ryan did benefit from field position all day, allowing him to trade distance for hang time. On the day, Ryan averaged six yards less per punt than Weatherford.
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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.