Courtesy of our contributing author lovingly referred to as” “The Tall Guy”
The watchword from Tom Coughlin this year was “finish.” The Giants didn’t finish last year when they had the chance, and it cost them. This year, they are following the mantra. And now, the after action review.
The Cardinals showed up dressed in black, and showed up playing with a fire that the Giants lacked. A look at the statistics indicates that our fears about the Cards’ were well-founded: Beanie Wells gashed the G-Men for over 5 yards a carry, and Larry Fitzgerald got his catches and yards. While Todd Heap wasn’t as much of a factor as we had feared, others stepped up. Doucet was a key threat, and the Cards were able to move the ball seemingly at will. The absence of Justin Tuck in the line-up looked to have had an impact, and Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t have as much of an impact as we thought. On the other hand, the defense was able to get pressure on Kevin Kolb, and sacked him, pressured him, and hurried him. If Justin Tuck had been in the line-up it might have been even worse for the Cards.
The turnover battle was even. Eli Manning didn’t have an interception, but did fumble the ball. Antrel Rolle was able to follow Kolb and pick off the pass intended for Fitzgerald, so the turnover battle was even. Time of possession was more balanced, and in the second half the Giants were able to control the clock. Towards the end of the game, Manning had all day to throw. He also got into a rhythm with his receivers, especially Hakeem Nicks. Victor Cruz also had a big game, and is looking to be the unexpected development that the Giants have been looking for. Manningham wasn’t the threat that we thought he would be, but still had a productive game.
From the tight end position, the Giants look to have found a solution to their problems. They have a tight end they drafted from a Big Ten school who really stepped up this Sunday. That’s right, The Ohio State University’s Jake Ballard came out of nowhere with a couple of key catches that resulted in a TD and set up another one by Brandon Jacobs. On third down efficiency the Giants were 6 out of 13, while the Cards were 3 out of 12 on third down conversions.
Now for the ugly. The G-Men struggled to get any kind of a ground game going. The Cards were able to stifle and frustrate the Giants offensive line. Defensively, the Giants had trouble stopping Arizona. The Cards had 11 penalties for 118 yards, while the Giants were flagged 7 times for 55 yards. Some of the flags were questionable, and others were just flat out ugly. The two teams had been relatively disciplined in the first three games, but not this time. The Giants were also quite lucky, as the referees absolutely blew the call when Victor Cruz left the ball on the ground and nearly cost the Giants the game. I say that honestly as a Giants fan. The sight of Eli Manning putting his hands on his helmet after bringing the team back was almost too much to bear. If I was a bettin’ man, I’d put money on Coach Coughlin emphasizing this point in practice this week. On the opposing side, the failure to call a time-out before fourth down in order to make sure the right play was called allowed the Giants to take over on downs and run out the clock.
Bottom line: A win is a win. To quote Branch Rickey, luck is the residue of design. The big fear was that the team would play flat, and they certainly started that way. In the second quarter the team was coolly efficient, and were able to control both sides of the field. Other than Manning missing a wide open Manningham at the end of the second quarter the G-Men looked to be in control of the game. In the fourth quarter the defense rose up, and the sack of Kolb towards the end of the game gave the defense some breathing room. The passing game is clicking, and the Manning to Nicks connection looks to be all that the Giants and their fans had hoped it would be when Mr. Nicks was drafted. While there are still areas of concern, the Giants get a couple of games at home, and October is Manning’s month (he’s notoriously hot, in case you were wondering). Once again, the Giants must avoid a let-down, as the Seahawks appear to be a weaker team. Just the same, we get to breathe a little easier for the next week. 3-1 at the quarter mark, and tied for first in the East.