I woke up this morning to see that yes, the Giants really did crush the Packers 38-10 last night. As much as I was looking forward to a better game from Eli and the Gmen after the bye, I don’t think anyone was really expecting a performance like that. The Giants thoroughly dominated every facet of the game, with the possible exception of special teams (catch the ball Rueban!). Here are a couple of thoughts from a game that left me and the rest of Giants Stadium feeling warm and fuzzy on a cold November night.
- The game opened with the Giants and Packers trading opening drive touchdowns thanks to a couple big plays from Ahmad Bradshaw and Jordy Nelson. The screen to Bradshaw was a perfect mix of great scheme, perfect blocking and an amazing individual effort by Bradshaw. He’s one of several Giants players (see: Hakeem Nicks) that obviously benefited from a perfectly-timed bye week. He looked energized all game and set the tone for the offense with his running. The Packers touchdown came after Webster bit badly on Nelson’s fake stop route, but he made nearly the same play later in the game and picked off a real stop route, so all is forgiven.
- The offensive line. Holy crap were they amazing. Eli was only sacked once (although I honestly can’t remember it) and had plenty of time in the pocket to pick apart a pass defense that was below-average even before they lost 4 starters for this game. The line also opened up huge holes for Bradshaw and Brown (more on him later), who averaged over 5 yards per carry between them and scored 2 touchdowns on the ground.
- The O-Line looked even better when compared to that of the Packers. The Giants’ D punished Aaron Rodgers to the tune of 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 interception. Rodgers was pressured on 17 of his 33 dropbacks, which is unbelievable, but I was actually more impressed by the secondary than the defensive line. There were a few times in the first half when Rodgers had all day in the pocket and no one to throw to, forcing him to either throw the ball away or tuck it down and run. When the score got out of hand in the second half, that’s when the D-line took over.
- We have to talk about Eli’s 13-yard run. On 3rd-and-7 from the Green Bay 34-yard line, the seas parted and Eli had a clear path to run for the first down. But our hero didn’t run to the first down line and slide, oh no. He lowered his shoulder into Tramon Williams and plunged forward for another yard. I’d like to believe that Eli fought for that extra yardage to inspire the team, but I think the much more likely explanation is that he’s afraid to slide after this. In a perfect world, I’d like to see him slide – properly – in that situation, but I honestly don’t know if he’s capable. After the game, Eli said he didn’t slide because he wasn’t sure whether he had the first down even though he was 6 yards past the marker, which is so Eli. I also don’t believe it for a second.
- The only damper on the evening was obviously the news of Andre Brown’s broken fibula, which puts his season in jeopardy. Brown has been great as a handcuff for Bradshaw, who always seems to be less effective when asked to carry a heavy load. Brown actually had more carries than Bradshaw last night (13 vs. 10), but Ahmad will obviously be the workhorse from here on out with David Wilson serving as the primary backup. Back in September, I wrote that the Giants may have wiffed on Wilson if all he turned out to be was a decent kick returner and he continued to be irrelevant on offense. Ignore that. He’s super important now.
That’s it for now. The Giants have another big game coming up next Monday night versus the suddenly second-place Redskins with an opportunity to put some real distance between themselves and the rest of the NFC East. The sun is shining and the Giants are 7-4. Today is a good day.