Friday, October 12, 2012

Giants Team Grades: Week 5 vs. Cleveland Browns

Sunday, October 7th 2012
Final Score: Cleveland Browns: 27 New York Giants: 41
Giants Team Grades

A slow start by the Giants produced a grim feeling at MetLife Stadium Sunday afternoon, but the Giants were eventually able to put it all together and roll the Browns 41-27.  The veteran leadership shown through in this performance, as the older more experienced Giants eventually over-whelmed the young, inexperienced Browns. 

Passing Offense Grade: A
With starting wide receiver Hakeem Nicks out again, Ramses Barden out because of a concussion and Martellus Bennett getting a hyper-extended knee, Eli Manning was again left with responsibility of running an offense without main pieces and that is exactly what he did.

Manning hooked up with Victor Cruz for three touchdowns and continued to show no matter who is on the field he can produce.  This week, Domenik Hixon and rookie Reuben Randle stepped up for the Giants.

Hixon and Randle combined for 11 catches and 137 yards in replace of Nicks and Barden.

Manning finished the game 25 for 37 for 259 yards and three touchdowns.  Manning also had a tough luck interception, as a ball bounced out of Cruz’s hands and into Cleveland Browns’ Usama Young’s hands

Rushing Offense Grade: A+
The first carry of the game from Ahmad Bradshaw resulted in a turnover and quick score for the Browns, but Bradshaw did not allow that to affect him.  Bradshaw used that turnover as motivation as he dominated the Browns the rest of the afternoon.

With backup Andre Brown suffering a concussion early in the game, the onus was on Bradshaw to be the workhorse out of the backfield and he took the challenge straight on. 

Bradshaw finished the game with a career high 200 yards on 30 carries, dominating the Browns with every opportunity given to him.  Bradshaw was also a contributor in the passing game, catching four passes for 29 yards. 

David Wilson made a cameo on offense as well and made the most of it, ripping off a 40 yard touchdown run.  If you blinked, the play would have been missed as Wilson looked as if he was shot out of a cannon, showing off the speed the Giants became enamored with when they were scouting him before the draft in April.

The Giants totaled 243 yards on the ground against the Browns and if they can continue running the ball effectively, they will have the best offense in the NFL.

Passing Defense Grade: B
The Giants pass defense got off to a rough start, as Brandon Weeden connected with Josh Gordon on a 62-yard bomb in the first quarter.  Weeden also threw another touchdown near the end of the game, as the Giants struggled to get pressure on him, failing to register a sack against an offensive line that had allowed nine throughout the season.

Weeden eventually would make rookie mistakes once the Giants got a small amount of pressure on him, as Stevie Brown, filling in for the injured Kenny Phillips, intercepted Weeden in the second quarter.  That interception set up the tying score for the Giants and Chase Blackburn added an interception of his own later in the game in the end zone.

The Giants have been ravaged in the secondary by injuries, but will have to put on a better performance in the coming weeks with better opponents on the schedule.

Rushing Defense Grade: B
Trent Richardson was able to do what he wanted against the Giants defense, with the only thing slowing him down being the scoreboard.  He scored an early touchdown after the Bradshaw fumble and rumbled to 67 yards in the first half, but was limited in the second half because of the score.

Richardson ended with 81 yards on 17 carriers, adding five receptions for 47 yards.  It was a feat for the Giants though, as they held the Browns to less than 100 yards rushing even with Rocky Bernard out of the lineup. 

Special Teams Grade: B
The return game was unable to get going, as Wilson averaged on 13.5 yards per return after exploding against the Eagles in week 4.  Andre Brown had one return for 13 yards before suffering a concussion that knocked him out of the game. 

Lawrence Tynes continued his strong season, knocking his two field goal attempts through the uprights and nailing all five of his extra points.  Weatherford was brought on to punt only twice, but averaged 50 yards per punt.

Josh Cribbs was able to break a 74-yard kick off return, which would have gone to the house if not for Mark Herzlich’s hustle to tackle him.  But Cribbs also fumbled earlier in the game, as Will Hill forced the fumble and Stevie Brown recovered it, giving him two forced turnovers in the game. 

Coaching Grade: A
It definitely was not in the game plan to go down 14-0, but with how the Giants responded the coaching staff had viable reason to say they might have.  With seven key contributors sitting this one out, the struggles could have been insurmountable but the Giants overcame all the adversity against them.

The Giants were also able to avoid their yearly let down by playing down to their opponents level, eventually getting it going and hammering the Browns after giving up those 14 early points.  Slow starts will have to be something they work out, as starts like that will not be as easily turned around against teams the Giants have on their remaining schedule.

The coaching staff, in addition to the front office, needs credit for the continuous shifting going on in the lineups.  The ability for the Giants to just plug people into different holes when players go down is not something every team is capable of doing. 

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