By Curt Macysyn
Maybe this victory cannot be placed alongside Mark Messier’s guarantee, or Willis Reed’s coming through the tunnel at Madison Square Garden, but it was special. The New York Football Giants (3-3) had dropped three straight contests, and trailed the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 with two minutes left in the game. New York was down to its final bullet on fourth-and-one, and Odell Beckham made sure it was a bull’s eye. OBJ’s second touchdown of the game, a 66-yard catch and carry, rallied the G-Men past Baltimore in the most important, and exciting, victory of the season.
This was vintage Beckham, as he re-established the trust with quarterback Eli Manning. Manning threw his 300th NFL touchdown in the game, a 24-yard pass to rookie Roger Lewis, Jr. in the second quarter. Manning is only the eighth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 or more touchdowns. As the Giants got themselves back into the NFC East race, let’s take a look at Week 6 team grades.
Okay let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. The Giants had a mere 38 yards rushing in the game. The rushing leader, Rashad Jennings, had 15 yards on the ground with a 1.7 yards per carry average. Bobby Rainey was not much better with 13 yards on six carries (2.2 yards per carry). The G-Men lost the time of possession battle again, this time by ten minutes. The Giants were only four of 14 (29 percent) on converting third downs, but three for three converting on fourth down.
Three turnovers this week for the offense. Manning had an interception at the end of the first half that was irrelevant. Manning’s other pick was one that should have been defensive pass interference on Tayvon Young. Incidental contact cannot allow one player to get an advantage, so the zebras had a tough day.
Let’s face it, the Giants were totally one-dimensional, but it did not matter because Big Blue has Odell Beckham, Jr. OBJ was efficient on Sunday, as well as prolific. He caught eight of the ten targets from Eli Manning for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie Roger Lewis became a footnote in history, as he hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Manning for number 300 for number 10.
Tight end Larry Donnell had six catches for 34 yards, and he makes everyone hold their breathe when he hurdles, or at least tries, to hurdle tacklers in the open field. Victor Cruz had three valuable catches for 31 yards. No holding penalties this week, allowing Manning to Beckham to be Manning to Beckham. And Beckham and the kicking net are officially in a bromance.
There were several things to like about the defensive effort, even after a really bad pass interference call on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie late in the game. The NFL should be thankful the Giants came from behind, otherwise Dean Blandino would have some explaining to do. The goal line stand in the first half was vintage Giants, as Jonathan Casillas was stout.
Baltimore was five of 18 (27 percent) in converting third downs, which is good news. The pass rush got to Joe Flacco twice, even though one was by safety Landon Collins. Collins lead the team in tackles with 12, in probably his best outing as a professional. He can and should hold onto more interceptions than he does, and his pass coverage needs to tighten up. Owa Odighizuwa had a critical personal foul call late in the game, and he needs to shows more intelligence than that, if he wants to stay on the field.
Janoris Jenkins was solid in pass coverage, except for one hiccup to Mike Wallace that turned into a 70-yard reception. Trevin Wade and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie battled all afternoon, and newcomer Coty Sensabaugh got a few snaps in. with the lack of depth here, New York needs to win time of possession battles to keep this unit fresh.
Special teams: B
Dwayne Harris fielded three punts and returned them a total of 11 yards. He should let them go if fielded inside the five yard line. Zak DeOssie got nicked up, but stayed in the game. He also had a hands to the face call that cost Big Blue 10 yards. Rookie Jerrell Adams had a neutral zone infraction call that allowed Baltimore to keep possession. Yikes, those type of calls are killer!
Brad Wing is surely making case for a Pro Bowl berth. He punted four times with a 51.4 yard average. The Ravens were able to return only one of those four punts for a measly three yards. Josh Brown was two-for-two on short field goals, and he was three-for-three on the no longer automatic extra points.
The best thing head coach Ben McAdoo did was keep the team’s morale up after some ill-timed (and perhaps bogus) penalty calls. Also, kudos to the brain trust for not falling on the sword for a rushing attack that obviously was not working. Getting Roger Lewis in the mix, paid dividends. If these coaches can get Larry Donnell to run north and south, they will be nominated for a Nobel Prize.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo did not go crazy with the blitz package, and that was the right call. The Ravens offense is no juggernaut, and the straight up play of the Giants proved that. Getting Beckham focused was critical, because the dynamic receiver is a game-changer. After the first quarter fumble, it was business as usual, so the coaching staff deserves credit there as well.