Well, the traditional second half downward spiral has continued for the Giants, who find themselves on the losing end of their trip to The Big Easy. The Saints routed the Giants 49-24 on Monday night, and it is clear that this team is going nowhere fast. The playoffs are not out of the question just yet, but at this point will it really matter? Even if they do sneak in with a wildcard spot, they will likely face a team like the Saints, who should have no trouble manhandling this team.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and focus on this messy game.
I don’t even know where to begin with this defense. After a horrific start to the season for the secondary, they seemed to improve as the weeks wore on. But now after two consecutive weeks of terrible coverage I think it’s safe to say they have regressed. The Saints clearly paid attention to last week’s footage and felt completely comfortable throwing it up the gut, knowing their receivers would be wide open right in the middle of the field.
In years past, the Giants have been able to get away with having a less than stellar secondary because their pass rush and run defense could easily pick up the slack. But this is not the case anymore. Once again, the defense did not sack the quarterback, nor provide much pressure at all. Drew Brees is a veteran who gets comfortable very quickly, so to be successful against him you have to pressure him early and often. Even when he was all but wrapped up by Justin Tuck, he managed to escape for a nice completion to move the chains. Tackling has become an issue as well across the board, and you know your team is in trouble when they can’t execute the most basic skills required to play the game.
It’s also worth noting that this was the first time in 23 games that the defense did not have a takeaway. This fact in and of itself probably shouldn’t be labelled a con, because it shows that the Giants have been consistently strong in this important area of defense. But this stat was really the only bright spot in this defense in recent memory, and while it doesn’t mean they have lost their turnover-making abilities, it also doesn’t feel good to have such an important streak come to an end.
The Saints are known for their tricks, especially on special teams. Just ask big brother Peyton about the onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl against the Colts. So it wasn’t altogether surprising that they attempted a fake field goal in the first quarter. It was good heads up by special teams to stop this play and force a turnover on downs. The Saints sent a message with that play, showing that they were confident enough to give up a virtually guaranteed three points against a sub-par team. The Giants answered back by denying them, then following up with a nice long drive down the field.
Unfortunately this nice long drive ended in a turnover, courtesy of Eli. As soon as he let go of that ball, standing off his back foot, I knew that play was doomed. The Giants really had a chance to control the momentum of the game with that drive, because it was early in the game and it came after the failed fake field goal attempt. Sometimes you can point to one play and say it changed the course of the entire game, and I really think this was one of those cases. Eli is the leader of that team, and when he makes plays like that, underthrowing off his back foot into the end zone when he could have had time to step into his throw, it just deflates everyone around him.
Of course, Eli is not the only one making bad mistakes that is killing this team. More dropped passes, especially out of Victor Cruz and Brandon Jacobs, are drive killers. This happens entirely too often with this team. And maybe, just maybe, there will come a time when the running game has any kind of positive impact. Jacobs had a couple decent runs, including the touchdown where he didn’t fall over the second he was hit, but overall it was more of the same out of this entire unit. This team is going nowhere fast if they can’t make something happen in the running game.
I can’t kill Eli too much more than I did about his interception, because he went on to have a great game after that play. He went 33/47 for 406 yards and two touchdowns. You normally see yards like that out of Drew Brees. He also continues to spread the ball around, completing to 10 different guys. Of course, the bright spot continues to be Cruz, with 9 receptions for 157 yards, including both receiving touchdowns. If he could work on not dropping the ball at least once a game, he would be unstoppable. Nicks also had a good game, and hopefully that rib injury isn’t serious.
Overall, not a great showing out of the Giants this week. And now they are getting ready to face the undefeated Packers on a short week. Is there anything more I need to say about that???