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Unpacking The Game: Giants @ Eagles

Welcome to the third installment of my weekly segment dealing with statistical breakdowns of each 2011 Giants matchup — Unpacking The Game.

Some stats speak for themselves, others need to be expanded upon because they speak volumes. This is the place where we get behind the numbers and show what’s really going on with the New York Giants.

Let’s begin after the jump

The score that says a whole lot more…

The Giants had great bookend efforts — but the Eagles controlled the middle of the game. The Giants let the Eagles back in the game in the second quarter – and it was hard to watch. I’m okay with that, because they are a very talented team. But I like that 4th quadrant here because the GMEN pulled away from an Eagles team that had nothing left in them. Kafka had nothing left, McCoy had nothing left, and there was no way the Giants weren’t finishing that game. The Giants took over and pulled away at the most critical point of the game – and ended it with a couple of nice scores and a 2 point conversion to boot. Finishing like this should propel the Giants to new heights this season, and I have a feeling the sputtering offense talk is all be dead now.

Onto the Team Stat Comparison

The Eagles moved the ball well, but clearly the Giants were more efficient and had more big plays. 41% to 46% third down conversions — about equal. And the Eagles are so hard to stop on third downs with all their weapons I felt the Giants came up big when they needed to. And the biggest victories came on the goal line for the second straight week. Bend but don’t break is the name of the defense and Perry Fewell’s scheme, and while the Giants look like they may never fully stop a team from gashing them in the middle of the field 20 yards from scrimmage — the goal line defense is a brick wall when it matters most.

The 4th down miss for the Giants really upset me… although I’m impressed with the team that they’ve taken so many chances this season (and preseason) by going for 4th downs so consistently. They had a perfect play called this time, and Travis Beckum tripped up and missed it by a yard. Hard to swallow — but I guess the Giants thought Victor Cruz and Aaron Ross’s off the bench magic was contagious. It wasn’t, obviously, and Beckum was the one blemmish on an otherwise great night of execution by the Giants offense.

Only one return by the Eagles this time around for 13 yards – I’ll take it! Steve Weatherford and the coverage, well done. I can’t even remember why the Giants punt game was so lousy last year…

Pick your poison, 177 yards on the ground or Michael Vick having his way with you on the ground and in the air? Not a ton of pressure on Vick, and the Eagles ran the ball well for their 40 attempts. I felt the Giants matched them well with their own run game, and Bradshaw broke several big runs for large chunks of yards to get that average up into the 4 yards per carry area where you want to see it. Overall, a very efficient day for the Giants run game.

Likewise, Eli Manning had an impressive day through the air. Nearly 70% completion, 232 yards net, 4 TDs. Thats is about as impressive a performance by Eli that you will see with a perfect mix of run, pass, and play action. THAT is the way this offense is designed, and the Giants executed perfectly.

Turnovers — 0 INTS and 0 Fumbles from the Giants. 3 INTS on the day for the Giants defense as well… looks like things are looking up this year, eh?

Another week where the Giants went 100% in the green zone, while the Giants defense held the opposition to only 1 conversion in the red zone. The Eagles were also 0-2 in goal to go range… a couple of truly decisive stands from the Giants defense.

More from the passing game.

Eli obviously was the best of the three — even though Vick looked good for the majority of the game. Thinking back, I can’t believe Kafka completed 4 passes… wow.

More on Eli, because he deserves it. That was one hell of a performance by our franchise QB I must say. He was on point all day long. I didn’t see one bad pass, not one. Everything was right on, even his missed pass early on to Victor Cruz just out of reach — a half step more and that’s a TD. Eli led him into it, didn’t work out that time. He kept taking shots and nothing was off or under thrown the entire game. Eli came to play and showed last year may actually be what most Giants fans believe it was — a fluke year for INTs.

Hard to complain about Ahmad Bradshaw’s 5.7 yards per carry, he had some great runs Sunday – my favorite being the draw play leading to a stiff arm. Instant classic. And while Brandon Jacobs finest moment came in the passing game of all places — more on that later — he never has a good game against the Eagles who love to load up the box when he takes snaps. Fine with me. And I didn’t miss DJ Ware at all this game — sorry to say it so bluntly but I liked Bradshaw getting his snaps as the third down back just fine. More on that later too…

LeSean McCoy is good. DAMN good. And full disclosure, I started McCoy in my fantasy league last week fully knowing what might happen. And I’m more impressed with McCoy after last week than I am disappointed in the Giants run defense… I think Shady is that good. There were times Big Blue had him down in the backfield and he made some plays to get out of trouble and make some ground — he’s just a really remarkable player in that respect.

No fumbles from the Giants! Yay!!

Onto the receivers.

Victor Cruz was obviously the story of the day — his heroics to break that 74 yards TD catch and run to put the Giants up by 14 would only be trumped by his second leaping catch in double coverage to get over the goal line for a game changing score. I’m not sure which was more impressive, but one things for sure his days in the slot are over. He’ll be competing with Manningham for a #2 spot from here on out.

But, for the second straight week I’m happy to report Ahmad Bradshaw was 100% on his checkdowns and screen passes – 5/5 and 53 yards and the game clinching TD. This was the aspect to the Giants offense they’ve been missing for some time… and as much as we’ve talked about it I don’t care anymore. I’m just glad Eli is checking it down like we all know he had to start doing, and I’m glad Bradshaw is executing at such a high level when he’s targeted.

The BJ27 playaction for a TD was a thing of beauty. When Casey Matthews bit on playaction and Jacobs blew by him, you knew what was happening before it happened. Eli threw a PERFECT pass over the top to Jacobs for the catch and run — and it was so nice celebrating that TD with my friends at the Forest, surrounded by Eagles fans. That will be a play I’ll rewind in my head for years to come. The wherewithal on that play from the call to the execution was just incredible.

Of course, that play would not have happened unless one special corner made a great play on a tipped pass for an INT. Aaron Ross. Time for me to eat some crow.

Interceptions.

Aaron Ross had one hell of a night, and you can’t take away anything from him because he showed resiliency, he showed a ballhawking attitude, he showed physicality… it was a complete game for him. If he stunk a couple weeks ago, he’s on his way to being a stud now. Hopefully he turned a corner this past game and the high level of play continues.

BTW – thank you former Giant WR Steve Smith for the tipped ball that went for an INT and ultimately a TD. Benedict really took an Arnold on that play, if you know what I mean.

Notice no INTs for the Eagles to return… interesting indeed.

Onto the sacks.

As I mentioned just after the game ended, 3 sacks > 3 INTs. I’ll take Eli going to the carpet a few more times from an offensive line in transition VS him having all day and forcing the ball where it doesn’t belong and having a turnover. I think the Giants offense as a whole has shown they have some answers this year for not turning the ball over, and one of them is Eli taking some sacks. The other as we discussed above is the increased amount of check downs.

Now 3 sacks from the Eagles D-Line is pretty reasonable if you ask me, the line held Trent Cole to 1 sack for a 9 yard loss. I’ll take it… Cole OWNED the Falcons last week and the Giants really did a nice job to keep him in check this week.

JPP with 2 sacks in another impressive game is reportedly going to be ok, he only cramped up which is why he went down after his second sack of the night. At first when I saw it, I was SURE it was going to be an ACL — very glad it’s not.

Tackles

Jacquain Williams is a stud in the making. Dude is all over the field making plays, he’s quick and physical. I have a feeling the Giants have found another OLB if Kiwanuka wants to play DE again. Just sayin…

JPP is of course continuing his excellent play. I won’t say dominance yet, but by seasons end he could be a very dominant player for the Giants.

Michael Boley is playing extremely well right now — since 2009 he’s just gotten better and better. Keeps his head in the game, plays good solid ball all the way around. His coverage improved this week as well. It needs to come just a bit more though if the Giants are going to shut down that 20 yard skinny post route they like to give up… but thats not all on him.

***

That’s about all I want to cover this week. A great team win by the Giants over the Eagles any way you slice it. Good to get inside the numbers, better to get a win, best it’s over the Birds.

[stats via National Football Post]

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