The Giants barrage of field goals forced the Eagles to submit on Sunday, upping their season mark to a “rising” 2-6. It was another less than sterling effort from Big Blue, but another week of climbing the standings nonetheless. As the NFC East is positioned today, the Giants are a 0.5 game behind Washington, one game behind Philadelphia and two games behind first-place Dallas. The door is wide open heading into the bye week.
Eli Manning played a solid game behind center. He was accurate on 70% of his throws, minus drops and throwaways, and he didn’t make any critical mistakes or misreads. His only panic decision came on an intentional grounding, a penalty that feels ritualized at this point. Most importantly, the Giants sustained drives, controlling the clock for 38 minutes. Manning’s 81.8 NFL QB Rating was his highest QBR since week #1; far from spectacular, but an upgrade from early season form.
Hakeem Nicks didn’t drop a pass. Nicks was targeted a team-high 12 times, hauling in seven for 51 yards. He displayed his strong hands of yesteryear, snatching a back shoulder toss while being bodied up by corner Bradley Fletcher. For the second consecutive week he beat his man and had space in the end zone, but the ball was a shade overthrown and he couldn’t get a second foot inbounds.
The defense controlled the game from the opening gun, with an Antrel Rolle sack/fumble of Michael Vick on the Eagles first play from scrimmage setting the tone. They collared the dynamic LeSean McCoy for the second time this season, holding him to 48 yards on 15 carries. Six of those carries went for two yards or less. The Giants defensive backfield gave up only two plays of 15 yards or more – both in the fourth quarter – and neither one to DeSean Jackson. They kept the Eagles playmakers under wraps. Four sacks and five QB hits on the Vick/Barkley combo is always a welcome sight.
While the Giants won the ever important turnover battle, they certainly did not win the penalty battle. They were penalized 92 yards on an exorbitant 11 penalties, including six pre-snap offensive penalties (two illegal formations, two motion penalties and two delay of games).
Rueben Randle played his lowest percentage of snaps (36.8%) all season. Randle was targeted one time on a quick crossing route, and dropped it. He was almost matched in snap count by Jerrel Jernigan. In other words, Hakeem Nicks isn’t going anywhere in 2013.
The running game, and more specifically the run blocking, left much to be desired. The Giants two-headed monster of Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox combined for 89 yards on 29 carries, with a long run between them of nine yards. Hillis found some success off shotgun draws on passing downs, but mostly the rushing attack is akin to pulling teeth. Right guard David Diehl and left guard Kevin Boothe combined for a run blocking grade of -11.1 on Pro Football Focus – on 12 designed runs in their general vicinity, the Jints picked up 34 yards.
Just when you thought the Giants were in the clear for victory number two… the punting unit. With 4:19 remaining in the game at their own 36-yard line, long snapper Zak DeOssie snapped the ball well over the head of punter Steve Weatherford. Weatherford had a chance to kick the ball out of the end zone and preserve a two-score lead, but apparently Mr. W is incapable of stopping gracefully. Weatherford awkwardly stumbled right past the football and allowed the Eagles to score seven. He also shanked a 30-yard punt earlier in the game.