Giants Beat Redskins in Dramatic Fashion

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Photo by: Rich Kane/Icon SMI

The Giants improved to 5-2 by defeating the Redskins 27-23 in what will likely go down as the game of the week. Eli Manning didn’t have a great game, but it was one of games where he giveth the lead, and then taketh away. Eli had two interceptions, both coming in the second half, and the second one coming on first down when they had the ball on their side of the field with a 7-point lead, which was criticized because they should have been running in that situation. That interception led to a Redskins field goal which brought the Giants lead to only four points. When the Giants got the ball back again, they had a 3rd and 1 and again decided to throw the ball instead of keeping the ball on the ground, and the Giants were forced to punt.

When the Redskins got the ball, it became an RGIII show, he eluded two sacks, and found an open receiver for a fourth down conversion, had some nice runs, and finished the drive by making a perfect pass to Santana Moss for the go ahead touchdown. However, this is when Eli made the decision to taketh away. It only took two plays and 19 seconds for Eli Manning to hit a streaking Victor Cruz on an 80-yard bomb for a touchdown to give the Giants a four point lead with only 1:13 remaining in the game. RGIII wasn’t able to complete a second successful drive for a touchdown, instead Santana Moss fumbled and Jayron Hosley recovered and the Giants were able to take a knee and improve to 5-2 and avoid starting 0-3 in NFC East play.

Check back tomorrow for our in-depth review of the game.

Robert Griffin Comes to Town

The New York Giants have started this season 0-2 within the NFC East. That division record puts added emphasis on today’s division game with the Washington Redskins. I hate to say must win, which this game is not, but if the Giants do not win this game, they are going to need a lot help throughout their division if they are going to want a chance at winning the NFC East. The winner of today’s game will take control of first place in the NFC East.

After a big win on the road last week, against the San Francisco 49ers, I have that thought in the back of my head that the Giants may come out flat today. Coach Coughlin needs to make it known throughout his team that they are 0-2 in the division and that is the only record that matters right now.

Keys to the Game: The Giants must limit the amount of big plays Washington creates. The Redskins this year have made their living with big plays on offense. Whether it be a run by Griffin, a long pass play to a receiver, or a gadget play that picks up a bunch of yards. To limit those opportunities the Giants need to start off by stopping the run. If the Giants can stop Alfred Morris and put the Skins in second or third and longs, Washington’s play calling will be limited to normal passing plays. But it is on those kind of plays that Griffin can move around and pick up the yards with his legs or completing a pass while on the run. Normally speedy linebacker Jacquian Williams would be in on those downs to spy the mobile quarterback. But he has been ruled out with foot problems. With Williams out, linebacker Keith Rivers will probably be promoted to that duty.

Take advantage of Washington’s weak secondary. The Redskins’ secondary is one of the worst in the league. But for whatever reason, the Giants’ offense usually struggles against the Redskins’ defense. Even when the Giants were dominating this series over the last five years, they would win, but never put together a great game on offense. Washington is going to put points on the board, their offense is too good not to. Thus the Giants must answer and put a beat down on the their spotty secondary, who is missing safety Brandon Meriweather.

Get another big play on special teams. David Wilson has been terrific this year on kick returns and if that trend continues the Giants will always have good field position for their offense. One thing that has been missing from special teams this year has been Steve Weatherford’s coffin corner punts. Weatherford was great for the Giants last year and sometimes the best way to defend an explosive offense is excellent punting. New York could really use some lethal punts by Weatherford today.

Injuries: New York has several of the same injuries they have had for the last couple weeks. Da’Rel Scott has been put on IR and Jacquian Williams, safety Kenny Phillips and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard are all out. Ahmad Bradshaw had complained of foot problems during the week, but he is too tough to miss a game like today. Linebacker Michael Boley has also been listed as questionable, but I would expect him to play as well.

The Redksins will be without receiver Pierre Garcon and safety Brandon Meriweather.

Final Analysis: Normally this game would have trap game written all over it. But because the Giants are 0-2 in the division I would have to believe that Coach Coughlin has been on his players’ cases all week. The Giants will come out strong, but will they be able to handle the dynamic Griffin. The Giants have a great history of losing to quarterbacks similar to Griffin and it will be no different today. Washington 27 New York 24.

Canty is Officially Activated

The New York Giants have made it official. Defensive tackle Chris Canty will be active for the Giants’ division showdown with the Washington Redskins tomorrow. He has been fit on to the roster with running back Da’Rel Scott being put on injured reserve. This will give New York the depth they will need on the defensive line to chase Robert Griffin III around the field.

I would not expect Chris Canty to play a lot. But if he can give the Giants a solid 10-20 snaps, that would be great. Canty is excellent against the run and both him and Linval Joseph will be a stabilizing force in the middle of the defensive line. This game between two division foes will come right down to the wire and it just might be the Giants’ defensive line that influences the outcome of the game.

Meet the Giants Number One Fan, Joe Ruback A.K.A. The License Plate Guy

Joe Ruback is without a doubt the New York Giants most dedicated and number one fan. He has been going to every Giants home game for the past 25 years, and for the past ten years, he has been taking his passion on the road as he has travelled with the Giants to see every away game as well. If you have ever watched a video dedicated to either of the two recent Super Bowl runs made by the New York Giants, you have likely seen clips of the man with shoulder length blonde hair, paint under his eyes, and his famous chain of customized license plates, all being tributes to the New York Giants, hanging from his neck. That man’s name is Joe Ruback, or simply, the License Plate Guy.

Mr. Ruback was nice enough to talk with me on the phone about his passion for the Giants and some of his experiences throughout the years. Joe became a passionate Giants fan when he was young, and for his first car when he turned 16, he chose to get customized plates in honor of his favorite team. They were the orange New York license plates, and he had them say “G1ANTS”. Mr. Ruback was eventually dared by his father to wear the plate around his neck, Joe stepped up to the challenge, the Giants won the game, and a tradition known by all passionate Giants fans started to develop. However, the tradition didn’t fully begin at that point, but the wheels started spinning at that point to turn Mr. Ruback into the most passionate football fan I have ever witnessed.

When the topic of passionate New York sports fans is brought up, the epitome for that title belongs to the Jets super fan, Fireman Ed. Joe is often referenced as the “the Giants version of Fireman Ed”, so I asked Joe what he thought about the comparison and he said it is an honor to be compared to one of the most famous super fans, and in the past they have done events together. Events like last year when they were both on the Boomer & Carton show to represent their respective fan bases prior to the Giants vs. Jets game on Christmas Eve. However, Mr. Ruback did jokingly question Fireman Ed’s passion and loyalty by saying “if he was a bigger fan, he would go to all the games”, which is exactly what the License Plate Guy does.

Chris Canty Back to Practice

Chris Canty returned to the practice field today. His return could be just at the right time. The Giants are hosting the Washington Redskins this Sunday, and will need to be prepared to stop Washington’s run game led by rookie Alfred Morris. Morris is fourth in the league in rushing yards and has been quite the surprise this season.

Canty last played football in last year’s Superbowl. He started this season on the PUP list because he did not heal as quickly as expected after off-season knee surgery. Canty brings veteran leadership to the defensive line and even more depth, that the Giants’ organization craves. If Canty can get on the field this week, there will be more fresh legs on the line to chase around the mobile Robert Griffin III.

One thing that is an issue, is which player will be cut or waived in order to make room for Canty. There are rumors floating that Da’Rel Scott who just had knee surgery yesterday, will be placed on IR. If that is not the case I would suggest, waiving Marvin Austin who has shown absolutely nothing and place him on the practice squad after he clears waivers. He could be claimed off waivers, but he has really not put anything on tape to make any teams desire his abilities, especially since he has played a very limited amount of football in three years.

G Men Dominate San Francisco 26-3

The New York Giants showed the world yesterday, why they are the defending Super Bowl Champions. They went into San Francisco and gave a team, considered by many to be the best in the NFL, a good old-fashioned rear end whipping. The 49ers who complained all off-season and pre-season about how they were the better team in the NFC Championship game, were shown that there is no doubt that the Giants are better.

San Francisco controlled the ball for virtually the entire first quarter, but were only able to put three points on the board; the only three points they would score all day. On their third possession, Alex Smith threw a pass on first down intended to Delanie Walker, but it was intercepted by Prince Amukamara who came out of his zone and jumped in front of Walker to make the interception. That interception by Amukamara, completely changed the dynamic of the game.

After the interception Eli Manning and Company drove the ball 67 yards, highlighted by two nice catches by Domenik Hixon, one of them for a 39 yard gain. The drive was capped by a salsa dance from Victor Cruz, who caught his sixth touchdown pass in as many games played. With the 7-3 lead the Giants started to take control of the game.

The defense was able to force a three and out on the Niners next possession and the Giants tacked on three more points.

However, at the end of the half the Giants almost screwed things up badly. With 1:34 left on the clock, New York moved the ball into position for another field goal attempt which was blocked. Okay, the Giants get kicks blocked every season. I am used to that by now. But with 11 seconds left on the clock does the defense need to allow Colin Kaepernick to throw the ball 36 yards for a 52 yard field goal attempt by Akers. Thankfully Mr. David Akers was in a giving mood yesterday, as in missing two field goals that he normally makes against the Giants. So instead of going into the half up 13-3, and then possibly up 10-6, the teams let the score remain at 10-3.

The start of the second half started with a bang. With David Wilson who has become a supreme kick returner, returned the kick 66 yards and set up another touchdown. Which Ahmad Bradshaw banged in, for a 17-3 lead and complete control of the game.

From here on in, New York flexed their muscles, sacking Alex Smith several times and Antrel Rolle intercepting two more passes.

The Terrific: The Giants’ pass rushers finally came to play as a unit yesterday. JPP and Linval Joseph have been solid all year, but Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have been below average at best. New York’s defense generated six sacks and put a lot of pressure on Alex Smith. Who, if everyone is honest with themselves, is not that good of a quarterback. One thing that may be helping this Giants pass rush is that Mathias Kiwanuka has been inserted on the defensive line, replacing Tuck at the defensive end position. If Keith Rivers remains healthy, Kiwanuka will continue to be utilized on the line instead of linebacker.

Not only did the Giants defensive line play great against the pass, but they stopped the 49ers running game in its tracks. Now I was baffled that San Francisco did not run the ball to edges, but kept it inside most of game, which has been the Giants strength against the run. Linval Joseph has been an unsung hero of this defensive line. Joseph has been playing excellent for New York, with rushing the passer and playing the run. With Canty coming back in the coming weeks, the Giants defensive line could return to its dominant form.

Antrel Rolle was absolutely terrific yesterday. He picked two passes off and made great tackles in the running game. Rolle was just all over the field and his two interceptions set up two field goals, that effectively ended the game. Along with Rolle, Prince Amukamara is starting to look like a real cornerback in this league. If he can continue to develop and play well along side Corey Webster, this defense can be an extemely formidable unit.

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Photo by: Rich Kane/Icon SMI

New York’s running game was great for the second consecutive week. The offensive line pounded Niners in the second half and Ahmad Bradshaw grounded out yards. Bradshaw finished the day with 116 yards and a touchdown with 27 carries, which is pretty special against this defense. If the offensive line is going to continue to block like yesterday, New York will be able to run on anyone.

Along with run blocking, the offensive line protected Eli Manning to perfection yet again. The 49ers punished Eli Manning last year. Yesterday they barely put pressure on him, let alone touch him.

I would be remiss if I did not mention David Wilson, who is the first real kick returner New York has had since Ron Dixon. Yes, the Giants finally have a real kick returner, and just not real, this guy is becoming a game changer on the kick return unit. In fact his kick return to start the second half, kick started the dominance of the Giants that followed.

The Disappointing: Not much to say here, other than the fact that the offense could not convert Rolle’s interceptions into touchdowns. Against better offenses, that could be the difference between a win and a loss, but yesterday’s game was never in doubt.

The Giants come back home and take on the Washington Redskins. This sounds crazy, but the Giants cannot lose next week. And you might say how can you possibly say that. One reason and one reason only. New York cannot fall to 0-3 in the division. If they do, they make every division game from there on in a must win. But for now bask in the glow of destroying the 49ers in San Francisco.

 

A Rivalry Renewed

The New York Giants and San Francisco 49rs had the best rivalry in football throughout the 80’s and early 90’s. But like all good things, it did finally come to an end in the late 90’s. Although these teams have faced each other in the playoffs since then, it was not the same kind of intensity that Giants and Niners fans had become accustomed to. Well that all came to an end last year.

The Giants traveled to San Francisco twice last season. Once during the regular season, in a 20-27 loss, and then again in the NFC Championship game, which New York won 20-17. The 49rs will be looking for revenge today and they will be prepared to do anything to ensure a victory. The Giants will need to put their best effort on the field today if they want a chance of winning.

Keys to the Game: The Giants must be prepared for anything. Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49rs are willing to call any play at any time. Their playcalling is very unique, especially when you consider the Giants Plain Jane play calling scheme. New York’s defense has been lousy through the first five games and if they do not change that today, they will get torched.

Stop the run. The Giants defense were dominated the last two weeks by Lesean McCoy and Trent Richardson. During the NFC Championship game last year Alex Smith only completed one pass to a wide receiver. The Giants must force Smith to pass the ball and the only way that happens is if the Giants can slow down Frank Gore.

The offensive line must protect Eli Manning. During the NFC Championship game last season, Manning was sacked six times and hit a dozen more. And he was just not hit, he was crushed. The unfortunate part about it, was that on more than a couple of those plays. Manning had guys open down field, but was unable to get them the ball because of pressure.

David Wilson needs to have a big kick return. Wilson has been so close to breaking a very long kick return. He has had many good returns, but he still needs to break through with that game breaking one. Wilson could change the whole dynamic of a game with one of those returns.

Injuries: The Giants will be without running back Andre Brown, safety Kenny Phillips, and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. On the bright side, Hakeem Nicks, David Diehl and Corey Webster are listed as questionable, but I would expect all three of them to play.

For the San Francisco 49rs former New York Giant, Brandon Jacobs is listed as questionable. Now there is no doubt in mind he will play and will probably receive a couple of handoffs.

Final Analysis: With the Giants getting back to full strength, they have as good an opportunity as any to knock off the Niners in San Francisco. The Giants cannot afford any turnovers, just like the NFC Championship game. The winner of the turnover battle will win this game. San Francisco 24 New York 17.

Hakeem Nicks Making His Return

It appears that Hakeem Nicks will be back on the field tomorrow against the vaunted San Francisco 49rs defense. Nicks has made the trip to San Francisco, which is important because you normally do not travel to road games if you are not expected to play. His return to the offense will be a huge asset for the Giants. His absence allowed other players to step into the starting lineup and get reps on the real stage, but he is a top receiver in this league and is an excellent complement to Victor Cruz.

Three players did not make the trip to San Francisco. Running back Andre Brown, defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and safety Kenny Phillips. New York does have the depth to replace these players, and although Stevie Brown played well last week, he is a downgrade from Phillips. The Giants will need to be at their best tomorrow to get a road win against the 49rs.

Hakeem Nicks Getting Healthy!?

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Photo by: Joe Rogate/Icon SMI

It has been reported from Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger that Hakeem Nicks took part in practice today. He worked during the individual drills, which is better than doing nothing at all. This does not mean that he is definitely going to play Sunday, but this is a big step towards that goal. Nicks has missed the last three games, but the Giants production on offense has remained the same. However, his ability will be needed against the better teams in the league, such as the 49rs, who the Giants play Sunday.

No decision will officially be made on Nicks until the staff sees how his knee reacts to the activity. If the swelling continues, you will not see Nicks participate Sunday, at least, I do not think you will. The Giants are going to be very cautious with any knee injuries, as they should be.

Early Scare Cannot Stop New York’s Offense

The start to Sunday’s game could not have been any worse for the New York Giants. On their first play from scrimmage, Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled allowing the Browns to score a Trent Richardson touchdown two plays later. Then after a punt, the Browns took the ball and Brandon Weeden connected with Josh Gordon for a 62 yard touchdown reception. That 14-0 nothing lead was a bit nerve racking.

After a Giants touchdown and trading field goals, Browns had the ball up 17-10. Cleveland was moving the ball with ease, which they did for most of the day. Trent Richardson was gaining yards at will and broke what seemed like two tackles on every run. Then on a third and one on the Giants 25 yard line, Brandon Weeden threw a terrible pass that was intercepted by Stevie Brown and returned 46 yards to the Browns 40. Brown was playing for the injured Kenny Phillips. On that play this game turned on a dime.

New York tied the game two plays later on a touchdown run by Bradshaw. Then on the ensuing kickoff the Giants forced return man Josh Cribbs to fumble, recovered by Stevie Brown, which set up another touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. Cruz finished with three touchdown catches on the day. And finally right before the end of the half, the Giants received a gift when the Browns interfered on a pass to Reuben Randle, allowing Lawrence Tynes to kick a 40 yard field goal right before the half, giving New York a 27-17 lead. Just like that the Giants scored 17 unanswered points, putting this game on ice.

New York finished the game leading 41-27, improving to 3-2. They will have to keep pace with their division rivals, after falling to 0-2 to start the season within the division.

The Despicable: This Giants defense was so bad yesterday, that they should all purchase the Giants offense dinner for the week. They never stopped rookie running back Trent Richardson. Richardson continually bounced the football outside and picked up yards every time. The secondary had a couple of lapses, none worse when Stevie Brown forgot to cover Josh Gibson on the 62 yard touchdown pass. And in what is becoming the epidemic on this defense, is the fact that they cannot generate any sort of pass rush. Are Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora ALIVE!? What in God’s name have they done this year aside from be blocked. And I hate to do it, but JPP has to break through a double team at some point. All the great defenders do it….Strahan, Bruce Smith, LT, Reggie White. If Pierre-Paul wants to reach the levels, that he seems capable of, he needs to get better against the blocking schemes that will be used against him. If this Giants defense performs remotely close to how bad they were yesterday, they will be in for a very long day in San Francisco next week.

The Excellent: Eli, the offensive line, Bradshaw, Cruz, Randle, Hixon, and Martellus Bennett should all be thanked for their excellent play and the reason the Giants were able to win yesterday’s game. The Browns committed a lot of penalties in their secondary yesterday, and that is due to the ability of this receiving corp who ran circles around those defenders. In Reuben Randle’s first real action in the pros, he performed really well, with six receptions and 82 yards. He looks like he is well on his way to developing into a long term option at receiver.

Martellus Bennett hyper-extended his knee early in this game, but was still able to come back and play great at tight end. He might be the best blocking tight end in the NFL. Bennett blocks defensive ends on his own and can get up field to put his body on linebackers in running plays too. The man is a beast and has been a great signing thus far.

This offensive line and Bradshaw combined to have the best day of them all. The offensive line was clearing holes like the Giants of 2010 and Bradshaw was running very hard. In total, Bradshaw rushed for 200 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. If this line could go back to opening holes like that, this offense will not be stopped by anyone.

And finally, Eli is Eli. Manning does what everyone has come to expect from him, play great football when he has to, and win. His one interception could have easily been called back had the refs called pass interference, but other than that the man played a mistake free game and put a lot of points on the board.

Next week the Giants have a NFC Championship rematch with the San Francisco 49rs. This game will be a very rough and hard fought game. Hopefully the Giants can heal up some more before they travel out to California.