Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Giants Team Grades: Week 7 vs. Washinton Redskins

Sunday, October 21st 2012
Final Score: Washington Redskins 23 New York Giants: 27
Giants Team Grades
It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but the Giants were able to pull out the win against the Redskins Sunday afternoon 27-23 for their first division victory of the season.  The Giants witnessed what makes Redskins new quarterback Robert Griffin III so special, but in the end saw what makes their own quarterback in Eli Manning one of the best in the NFL.
Passing Offense Grade: B-
Eli Manning had a rough go at it for most of the game against the Redskins, struggling for the better part of the game.  The Redskins have given Manning problems throughout his career, has they are the only team that Manning has more interceptions thrown than touchdowns with at least 5 games played against; that trend continued  Sunday when Manning threw two interceptions compared to one touchdown.
Manning missed Victor Cruz in the first half for what would have been a touchdown and later over threw him on a bomb again.  But they connected when it mattered with less than two minutes left in the game, when they connected for a 77-yard game winning touchdown.  Martellus Bennett and Hakeem Nicks did some damage as well, both reeling in five receptions.
Rushing Offense Grade: C+
It was tough sledding for the Giants running game against the Redskins, as they were able to only total 64 yards on 19 attempts.  The workload for Ahmad Bradshaw was limited, as he gained 43 yards on 12 carries and scoring one touchdown.  Bradshaw was visibly upset at points in the game, getting into heated conversations with head coach Tom Coughlin and running backs coach Jerald Ingram. 
Andre Brown returned to the lineup after a one week absence because of a concussion and scored a touchdown of his own to go along with his 17 yards on five rushes.
Passing Defense Grade: C+
Robert Griffin III did not looked one bit intimidated during his first NFC East game of his career.  He picked the Giants secondary apart, showing off his athleticism on a 4th and 10 on the drive that put the Redskins ahead with just under two minutes to play.  Griffin connected with Santana Moss for two touchdowns and looked to have patience in the pocket.
The Giants were able to salvage the game by intercepting Griffin once and forcing him to fumble twice, recovering one for a turnover.  They front four was able to cause some chaos in the backfield for the second straight week in sacking Griffin three times.  Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck all registered sacks, with Tuck’s being his first of the season.
Rush Defense Grade: C-
The Redskins were the top rushing offense in the NFL entering the game and cemented that with a 248 yard effort against the Giants.  Redskins’ running back Alfred Morris rumbled for 120 yards on 22 carries and Griffin added 89 yards of his own on 9 carries.
The read-option attack that the Redskins employ gave the Giants fits all afternoon, but in the second half the defense stepped up as they forced two fumbles on rushing plays and slowed down the Redskins’ rushing attack enough to take control of the game.
Special Teams Grade: B+
Lawrence Tynes continues his outstanding season for the Giants, connecting on both of his field goal attempts and knocking through three more extra points.  David Wilson did not score a touchdown on his returns, but averaged a solid 26.5 yards per return.
The coverage teams were outstanding once again for the Giants, as for the second consecutive week they held in check a very dangerous return man, as Brandon Banks managed only 12 yards on one punt return.
Coaching Staff Grade: B+
The stats might not look like it, but the coaching staff led by Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell game-planned well against Griffin.  The Giants defense forced four turnovers and sacked Griffin three times. 
The game plan on the offensive side of the ball had more questions raised, as the limited running attack was surprising with how well the Giants had been rushing the ball recently.
Nonetheless, the bottom line is that the Giants won a critical divisional game at MetLife Stadium that was essentially a must win and head into Dallas on a three-game winning streak.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Eli Overcomes Struggles with Late Game Heroics

Sunday, October 20th 2012
Post-Game Re-Cap
Final Score: Washington Redskins: 23 New York Giants: 27
Eli Overcomes Struggles with Late Game Heroics

It was a lackluster afternoon for the Giants in all aspects of the game, but even while struggling they were able to pull out the victory over the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium Sunday afternoon 27-23.  The Giants were able to avoid what would have been a disastrous 0-3 start to their division games this season, moving to 5-2 with sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

The Giants defense struggled at times Sunday afternoon in containing the dynamic Robert Griffin III and the NFL’s leading rushing offense.  Griffin had a strong game through the air and on the ground, completing 20 of 28 passes for 258 yards, two touchdowns and one interception; also adding 89 yards on the ground on nine carries.  Griffin led the Redskins on an improbable drive aided by one of the most impressive plays you will ever see from a quarterback on 4th and 10.  Thankfully for the Giants, Griffin was unable to duplicate that performance after Eli Manning led the offense on a game-winning drive of his own.
Rookie running back Alfred Morris ran all over the Giants as well, gaining 120 yards on 22 carries.  Morris and the Redskins gashed the Giants for big runs continuously, finishing with 248 yards rushing on 38 total carries.
The Giants were able to step up in the second half to take control on the game, forcing a Morris fumble and Griffin interception on back-to-back possessions.  The pass rush was able to get to Griffin, sacking him three times and causing two fumbles, recovering one, in addition to the interception.  Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck all registered sacks on Griffin, with Tuck’s being his first of the season.
Linval Joseph had another strong game as well, quickly becoming one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL.  Against the Redskins, Joseph caused and recovered a fumble; continue his strong junior season with the Giants.  With Chris Canty returning from injury, the Giants rush defense should improve immensely with Canty being paired with Joseph.
Stevie Brown needs to be recognized as well, as he got his third interception of the season and has filled the hole at safety left by Kenny Phillip's injury admirably.  Brown is making the most of his opportunity and is showing Giant fans why the front office didn't rush to bring back Deon Grant; just another example of the front office and coach staff doing thier homework on players and knowing what it is exactly that they have.
Manning once again was the savior with his late game heroics, but those heroics would not have been needed if he had played the way Giant fans have become accustomed to him playing recently. 
Manning missed a wide open Victor Cruz in the first half for what would have been a touchdown and later over threw him again on a bomb pass.  Manning also threw two crushing interceptions, the first of which was intended for Martellus Bennett inside the Giants 20 yard line.  The second was a poor decision by Manning, who threw his second interception of the game the play immediately following Griffin’s fumble, giving the Redskins the ball right back.
But no one will remember the off day for Manning, as he salvaged it all by hitting Cruz in stride for a game winning 77-yard touchdown reception. 
A problem for Manning’s struggles against the Redskins may have been from the lack of a running game.  The last two victories for the Giants, against the Browns and 49ers, the run game was clicking and even dominant at times, but against the Redskins it was non-existent. 
Ahmad Bradshaw, who was visibly hyped up and excited throughout the game, showing an enormous amount of emotion, gained only 43 yards on 12 carries, scoring one touchdown.  Bradshaw was seen getting into a heated exchange with head coach Tom Coughlin and later in the game with running backs coach Jerald Ingram.  There is no concrete evidence as to what had Bradshaw so worked up as he was not quoted after the game, so anything said is purely speculation.
The Giants will start preparing Tuesday for another divisional match-up, as they will head down to Dallas to play the Cowboys next week and look to exact some revenge against the team that beat them the opening week of the season.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Amar'e Stoudemire Out 2-3 Weeks

Amar’e Stoudemire Shut Down

The New York Knicks announced today that starting power forward Amar’e Stoudemire will be out 2-3 weeks with a ruptured popliteal cyst behind his left knee.  Stoudemire returned to New York City Sunday morning for a follow-up MRI on his knee bruise he suffered October 10th in practice and this injury was found.

Stoudemire had been drawing rave reviews from head coach Mike Woodson for being in tip-top shape coming into training camp and not missing a beat during two-a-day practices.

Sadly, Stoudemire is no stranger to injuries, as this just adds to a laundry list of them that has become quite extensive in his time with the Knicks.  Before coming to the Knicks, Stoudemire dealt with chronic knee problems and a detached retina.  Since joining the Knicks, he has developed lower back problems, the laceration of his hand in last season’s playoffs and now the knee issues.

This injury will have a huge impact on the Knicks roster.  With Stoudemire going down, it is almost all but guaranteed that Chris Copeland will make the final roster.  The Knicks cannot go into the season with Kurt Thomas as the only healthy power forward on the roster.  Look for Henry Sims to also get a much closer look at from the Knicks, as an able bodied big man is a necessity now.

Thomas is a solid backup, but asking him to play big minutes at the 4 would be problematic for the Knicks.  Look for the starting lineup to get a little shook-up, with Carmelo Anthony potentially sliding over to the 4 for the time being with Jason Kidd being inserted into the starting lineup. 

The other thing that suffers is the continuity of the team.  This is yet another lost off-season for Stoudemire to work on his chemistry with Anthony.  They are not yet on the same page offensively and are even further behind on the defensive end, looking good only in spurts.

Because of this, if the Knicks come out strong with Anthony as the vocal point of the offense Stoudemire needs to be moved to the bench.  There is no reason Mike Woodson should try and force something to work when one thing is working well.  It will take a lot of guts to make such a move, but it is a move that would become a necessity if the Knicks play well without Stoudemire.

At this point, winning should be of the utmost importance for the players on the Knicks; personal statistics and glory should be put on the backburner.  Stoudemire has been quoted saying that he will do whatever it takes to win and coming off the bench may be one of those things.  If the Knicks are rolling with Anthony as the vocal point from the start of the games, let Stoudemire be the vocal point with the second unit and do his thing.  No one likes to admit they were wrong, but it would benefit the Knicks as a whole if Stoudemire came off the bench, allowing him and Anthony to be the vocal points of the offense while the other is resting on the bench.