There was no Plaxico Burress. There was no Hakeem Nicks, or Steve Smith. There was just a rookie free agent, who missed all of the regular season last year, and an unknown tight end who was brought in as extra protection for Eli. These were the go to guys for Manning on the game winning drive. Victor Cruz, a hometown kid from Paterson, NJ, returned to action this year after a season ending injury in the 2010 preseason. But before he sustained the injury, he left Giants fans everywhere with their jaws on the floor from his electrifying preseason performances. Today, he is the leading receiver for the New York Giants and salsa dancing extraordinaire. Not only that, but he has play making ability that will only continue to skyrocket.
When Kevin Boss decided to sign with the Oakland Raiders, it left a giant void to fill. Enter rookie free agent from 2010, Jake Ballard. Jake was signed on April 25, 2010. He was waived in August of that same year only to be signed, waived and signed again. He was added to the active roster on 12/16/10. He has made his presence known in the NFL since the 2011 season started. He has secured a spot on this team and a spot in the hearts of Giants fans everywhere. This isn no easy task. In short, two of the biggest assets that the New York Giants have this year, and surely years to come, are undrafted rookie free agents that were handpicked by Jerry Reese. Kudos to the GM! These were the two individuals that the Giants chose to get them down the field to win the game…and win the game they did!
Now, the defensive game plan was quite a bit different than the usual Big Blue norm. Taking a page from Pittsburgh’s game winning “how to” manual last week, Perry Fewell and co. made the decision to lay off their league leading blitz packages, and take away Tom Brady’s targets by concentrating on coverage and leaving the front four to handle the pressure. The game plan worked like a charm in the first half, completely shutting the Patriots down and leaving them with no points on the board.
Keeping with the “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” mentality, the Giants continued on with their defensive scheme and limited the Pats to a field goal in the 3rd quarter. Brady was quite the frustrated fellow on Sunday, more so than I ever seen him before. Rightfully so. Brady threw two interceptions on the day, fumbled it once and his team turned the ball over a total of 4 times. Deon Grant deserves special mention for his interception early in the 3rd quarter. Brady was looking dangerous on that drive but Grant picked him off and sent Brady to the sidelines with steam coming out of his ears. Grant had 4 combined tackles, 1 interception and 2 pass deflections for the day.
It wasn’t until the G-Men decided to bring the heat that they began to pay the price for it. Once the Big Blue blitz packages started coming in the 4th quarter, Brady began to find the holes and incorporate. That’s not entirely true. Aaron Ross‘ fumble midway through the 3rd quarter led the Pats to their first points of the day. The G-Men’s red zone defense kept them from putting 7 up on the board. Eli Manning’s first turnover in nearly three games also contributed to the Patriots scoreboard. The Pats took our two turnovers and converted them into 10 points. But the decision to initiate the Big Blue Blitz Machine helped add the next 10. As solid as the secondary looked yesterday in Foxborough, it was only because they had the extra bodies helping them out. Still, the secondary had a great day and deserve accolades themselves.