What a long strange trip it’s been. From an offseason of promise to 0-6 out of the gates… from 0-6 to 4-6 and renewed life… followed by disappointment… followed by elimination of hope. The Giants were thoroughly outclassed by a 5-7 Chargers team late on Sunday afternoon, falling 37-14 and officially closing the door on any and all postseason aspirations.
This can almost be classified as “ugly” in my book, but I’m searching for positive fodder here. Hakeem Nicks put forth his top receiving effort of the season, hauling in five of his seven targets for 135 yards – which included a meaningless 43-yard grab caught at the six-yard line as the halftime bell sounded. Hey Hakeem: where were these big plays when your team needed you? When the season still had a pulse? His 51-yard catch in the first quarter was his longest since week one at Dallas. It’s apropos that he’d show heart when what’s left of the season is only a string of life. You can be sure he’ll break the touchdown seal in week 17. Nicks is gone.
Justin Tuck followed up his all-time effort with two more sacks of the quick firing Philip Rivers, including a strip sack to open the second half. He earned a 1.5 pass rushing rating on Pro Football Focus. All four of his tackles resulted in stops, or failed offensive plays. Tuck, a face of the franchise, is playing like he wants to remain a Giant in 2014-2015.
Rookie DT Johnathan Hankins recorded three tackles (2 stops) on 19 defensive snaps. “Big Hank” better see more field time in the final three contests. Fellow rookie DE Damontre Moore was credited with a quarterback hurry on nine pass rush snaps, but also committed a costly penalty.
Scroll down straight to the ugly
The Giants were dominated in the time of possession battle. San Diego controlled the rock for 37 minutes, converted 10/15 third-downs. They had four scoring drives of 10+ plays, all covering between 67 and 80 yards. The Chargers were forced to punt ONCE all afternoon, on the game’s opening drive. Rivers completed 75% of his 28 pass attempts.
So much for playing penalty-free football… The Jints were penalized seven times for 72 yards, and three of those penalties handed the Chargers free first downs. When your opponent is operating as efficiently and balanced as SD was, there is no margin for foolish error.
When blitzed, Eli Manning completed 4/10 passes for 38 yards and two interceptions. Following the 51-yard pass to Nicks in the first quarter, in a zero-zero game, Manning served up an errant toss behind Rueben Randle that was deflected and picked off. Over the next 54 minutes, the Giants never again sniffed momentum.
The Giants guards were abused, again. Newly minted LG James Brewer graded out at -4.7 overall according to PFF, while RG David Diehl brought his usual stellar performance level to the gridiron:
While it may not be the style of this franchise to look towards the future, there is simply no other alternative. Audition the youngsters. Prepare for 2014.