Tag:Panthers
Posted on: January 9, 2009 4:23 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2009 8:35 pm
  •  
 

UPDATED: MADDEN '09 Divisional Round Sim RESULTS!

BigBluGeekazoid: The Results are in!

 "Great football is - is - is about great football *players* playin..' ya see... you need good football players in - in a big game and then ya -ya get great football, and - and - and that's what *that's* all about."

Semi-sim #1: BALTIMORE @ TENNESSEE - Saturday 4:30pm ET

*Prediction: Section_725: "It doesn't appear so cut and dry. (Titans) on a coin flip - How is that for a scientific method?"

*Prediction: BigBluMasochist: "Kerry Collins has to win this one for Tennessee, which doesn't bode well for them."

                                                                             31                   34 

1st QUARTER:

2nd QUARTER:

  • TEN: McCareins 437yard TD Pass from Kerry Collins; Bironas PAT (BAL 14 - TEN 10)
  • TEN: Chris Johnson 1-yard TD Run; Bironas PAT (TEN 17 - BAL 14)
  • BAL: Matt Stover 40-yard Field Goal (TEN 17 - BAL 17)
  • TEN: Rob Bironas 52-yard Field Goal (TEN 20 - BAL 17)

3rd QUARTER:

  • BAL: Willis McGahee 64-yard TD Run; Stover PAT (BAL 24 - TEN 20)
  • TEN: Bo Scaife 3-yard TD Pass from Kerry Collins; Bironas PAT (TEN 27 - BAL 24)

4th QUARTER:

  • TEN: Chris Johnson 1-yard TD Run; Bironas PAT (TEN 34 - BAL 24)
  • BAL: Willis McGahee 2-yard TD Run; Stover PAT (BAL 34 - TEN 31)

TEAM STATS:

  • SACKS ALLOWED:     BAL - 1           TEN - 4
  • TURNOVERS:              BAL - 2           TEN - 0
  • TIME OF POSS (X3):   BAL - 27:06   TEN - 32:54

PLAYER STATS:

  • PASSING:      BAL - Flacco 11 of 20, 180 yds, 0TD, 1 INT... 
  • PASSING:     TEN - Collins 16 of 24, 231 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT
  • RUSHING:     BAL - McGahee 19 for 128 (2 TD)... McClain 10 for 36 (TD)... Flacco 3 for 19... Neal 2 for 5 
  • RUSHING:    TEN - C. Johnson 17 for 106 yards (2 TD)... L. White 8 for 53... Collins 2 for (minus) 2
  • RECEIVING:  BAL - Fitzgerald 7 for 91.. Breaston 4 for 67 (TD).. Urban 4 for 19.. Doucet 3 for 15.. Pope 1 for 6
  • RECEIVING: TEN - M. Clayton 5 for 141... D. Mason 3 for 22... Heap 3 for 17

  


 

Semi - sim #2: ARIZONA @ CAROLINA - Saturday 8:15pm ET 

*PredictionImJustLazy03: "My head tells me to take the Panthers, but I think the Cardinals will eek this one out..."

*Prediction: Section_725: "...ultimately, the more balanced Carolina offense will win the game for them."

                                                                             15               24

1st QUARTER:

  • NOTE: Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin removed from starting linups due to his Hamstring injury.
  • CAR: John Kasay 51-yard Field Goal (CAR 3 - ARI 0)

2nd QUARTER:

  • ARI: Neil Rackers 42-yard Field Goal (CAR 3 - ARI 3)
  • ARI: Neil Rackers 27-yard Field Goal (ARI 6 - CAR 3)

3rd QUARTER:

  • CAR: Jonathan Stewart 77-yard Run TD; Kasay PAT (CAR 10 - ARI 6)  
  • ARI: Neil Rackers 37-yard Field Goal (CAR 10 - ARI 9)

4th QUARTER:

  • CAR: Jonathan Stewart 29-yard TD Run; Kasay PAT (CAR 17 - ARI 9)
  •  ARI: Steve Breaston 43-yard TD Pass from Kurt Warner; 2-point conversion failed (CAR 17 - ARI 15)
  • CAR: DeAngelo Williams 3-yard TD Run; Kasay PAT (CAR 24 - ARI 15)

TEAM STATS:

  • SACKS ALLOWED:     ARI - 4            CAR - 1
  • TURNOVERS:              ARI - 3            CAR - 0
  • TIME OF POSS (X3):   ARI - 27:57    CAR - 32:03

PLAYER STATS:

  • PASSING:       ARI - Warner 19 of 27, 198 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT... 
  • PASSING:     CAR - Delhomme 8 of 20, 65 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
  • RUSHING:      ARI - E. James 13 for 33... Hightower 8 for 9
  • RUSHING:    CAR - J. Stewart 12 for 110 yards (2 TD)... D. Williams 19 for 114 yards (TD)... Hoover 3 for 1
  • RECEIVING:   ARI - Fitzgerald 7 for 91.. Breaston 4 for 67 (TD).. Urban 4 for 19.. Doucet 3 for 15.. Pope 1 for 6
  • RECEIVING: CAR - S. Smith 2 for 24... D. Hackett 2 for 13... Muhammad 2 for 11... D. Williams 2 for 14 

 


 

Semi - sim #3: PHILADELPHIA @ NEW YORK - Sunday 1:00pm ET

 

*PredictionThe Muffin Man: "I have to go with the Giants, as I am angry at the Eagles for beating the Vikings."

*Prediction: BigBluMasochist: "I don't predict Giants games."

*Prediction: Section_725: "Ah, the matchup everybody is looking forward to, well... except for fans of those other teams."

*PredictionImJustLazy03: "Not sure home field helps much in this one, but that extra week off (for NY) sure will."

                                                                            37             3

1st QUARTER:

  • None

2nd QUARTER:

  • PHI: David Akers 22-yard Field Goal (PHI 3 - NYG 0)
  • PHI: L.J. Smith 18-yard TD Pass from McNabb; Akers PAT (PHI 10 - NYG 0)
  • Note: Giants OL Shaun O'Hara left the game with a knee injury
  • PHI: David Akers 35-yard Field Goal (PHI 13 - NYG 0)

3rd QUARTER:

4th QUARTER:

  • PHI: Brian Westbrook 4-yard TD Run; Akers PAT (PHI 27 - NYG 3)
  • PHI: Correll Buckhalter 3-yard TD Run; Akers PAT (PHI 34 - NYG 3)
  • PHI: David Akers 44-yard Field Goal (PHI 37 - NYG 3)

TEAM STATS:

  • SACKS ALLOWED:    PHI - 5           NYG - 3
  • TURNOVERS:             PHI - 1           NYG - 4
  • TIME OF POSS (X3):  PHI - 40:54   NYG - 19:06

PLAYER STATS:

  • PASSING:      PHI - McNabb 20 of 30, 294 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT... 
  • PASSING:    NYG - Manning 15 of 26, 128 yds, 0 TD, 4 INT
  • RUSHING:    PHI - Westbrook 22 for 97 (TD)... Buckhalter 4 for 19 (TD)... McNabb  3 for 16
  • RUSHING:   NYG - B. Jacobs 9 for 38... D. Ward 4 for 14... Bradshaw 6 for 26
  • RECEIVING:  PHI - D. Jackson 6 for 96 (TD)... Baskett 4 for 83... Curtis 3 for 21... R. Brown 2 for 26...
  •                                    L.J. Smith 2 for 29 (TD)  Avant 2 for 21... Westbrook 1 for 18
  • RECEIVING: NYG - Boss 2 for 42.. Hixon 2 for 38.. Jacobs 1 for 19.. Manningham 1 for 18.. Smith 1 for 11 

 


 

Semi - sim #4: SAN DIEGO @ PITTSBURGH - Sunday 4:45pm ET

 

*PredictionImJustLazy03: "Big Ben in for a Big Game here, probably a pass heavy 'O' for the Steelers."

*Prediction: NFL_Solomon: "Eli Manning sucks."

                                                                            14                19                                                                     

1st QUARTER

  • NOTE: Chargers RB LaDanian Tomlinson removed from starting lineups due to groin injury.
  • PIT: Willie Parker 13-yard TD Run; Reed PAT (PIT 7 - SD 0) 
  • Note: Steelers WR Nate Washington missed the remainder of the half with a head injury

2nd QUARTER:

  • PIT: Santonio Homes 62-yard TD Pass from Roethlisberger; Reed PAT (PIT 14 - SD 0)
  • PIT: Jeff Reed 37-yard Field Goal (PIT 17 - SD 0)
  •  SD: Nate Kaeding 45-yard Field Goal (PIT 17 - SD 3)

3rd QUARTER:

  • SD: Nate Kaeding 55-yard Field Goal (PIT 17 - SD 6)

4th QUARTER:

  •  SD: Chris Chambers 19-yard TD Pass from Philip Rivers; Darren Sproles 2-pt conversion (PIT 17 - SD 14)
  • PIT: Safety - Philip Rivers sacked in SD end zone (PIT 19 - SD 14)

TEAM STATS:

  • SACKS ALLOWED:    SD - 3          PIT - 3
  • TURNOVERS:             SD - 2          PIT - 1
  • TIME OF POSS (X3):  SD - 33:12   PIT - 26:48

PLAYER STATS:

  • PASSING:       SD - Rivers 18 of 29, 209 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT... 
  • PASSING:       PIT - Roethlisberger 16 of 19, 248 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • RUSHING:      SD - Sproleses 18 for 119... Hester 6 for 21... Rivers  2 for 9
  • RUSHING:      PIT - Parker 19 for 76 (TD)... M. Moore 4 for 8... C. Davis 1 for 3
  • RECEIVING:   SD - A. Gates 8 for 100.. V. Jackson 5 for 46.. Chambers 2 for 23 (TD).. Sproles 2 for 15..
  •                                    Manumaleuna 1 for 25
  • RECEIVING:   PIT - H. Ward 9 for 107.. Holmes 3 for 85 (TD).. Washington 2 for 34.. H. Miller 2 for 22 

 

Thanks for the input, everyone! I'm looking forward to next week's Conference Championship matchups! Enjoy the games this weekend.

 

 

 

Posted on: January 7, 2009 5:32 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2009 5:33 pm
 

REMINDER: MADDEN Div Round Sim picks due tonight

BigBluGeekazoid's MADDEN '09 Divisional Round "Semi-SIm"

Reminder - please have your posts - with picks and commentary - in by tonight (Thursday 1/7). Results will be posted on Friday. If you're new to this, please read below. C'mon... join me, ImjustLazy03 and Section_725. If you don't participate, it'sour hands and our hands alone steering the ship on this one. Thanks!

 "Ya see...there's no place on CBS... not the sports site, not the - the - the news site, not the regular old CBS site, ya know where - where yah can find ah - ah - a picture of playoff teams... you know, teams *in the palyoffs* and *in the Madden game* yah see... and if yah can't find a picture of the '09 game with - with teams that are *actually* in the playoffs... well, then, that's - that's gonna - that's gonna usually result in - in - in a picture that's not really gonna be relevant to the - to the post, yah see. And Brett Favre knows that."

OK Folks, You know the Drill: Pick your winners and provide some game planning thoughts or predictions. Whichever team gets the most votes in each matchup will be the one I control; I'll also set up defensive or offensive schemes based on your suggestions. Not a true simulation but an offshoot of one that gets your input and suggestions as involved in the gaming precess as possible. Winners will be posted Friday night - complete with team and individual player stats.

 VS.            VS.            VS.            VS.

              

Posted on: January 6, 2009 12:23 am
Edited on: January 6, 2009 10:12 am
 

BigBluGeekazoid: MADDEN '09 Divisional Round Sim

 "There's no place on CBS... not the sports site, not the news site, not the regular old CBS site, yah know where - where yah can find ah - ah - a picture of playoff teams... you know, teams *in the palyoffs* and *in the Madden game* yah see... and if yah can't find a picture of the '09 game with - with teams that are *actually* in the playoffs... well, then, that's - that's gonna - that's gonna usually result in - in - in a picture that's not really gonna be relevant to the - to the post, yah see. And Brett Favre knows that."

OK Folks, You know the Drill: Pick your winners and provide some game planning thoughts or predictions. Whichever team gets the most votes in each matchup will be the one I control; I'll also set up defensive or offensive schemes based on your suggestions. Not a true simulation but an offshoot of one that gets your input and suggestions as involved as possible. Winners will be posted Friday night - complete with team and individual player stats.

 VS.            VS.            VS.            VS.

              

                  

               

Posted on: December 28, 2008 9:56 am
Edited on: December 28, 2008 9:01 pm
This entry has been removed by the administrator.

Post Deleted by Administrator

This message has been removed by the administrator.

Posted on: December 22, 2008 1:52 am
Edited on: December 22, 2008 10:12 am
 

RECAP: Giants 34, Panthers 28 (OT)

Running down a Dream

   

Ward runs for 216 yards; Jacobs' 3 touchdowns lead Giants to OT victory.

The road to Super Bowl 43 will go through East Rutherford. 

Who was that guy wearing #34 tonight?

Derrick Ward has been as valuable a member of the Giants offense as anyone this season, but the effort he put forth tonight was nothing short of unbelievable. So it's appropriate that on a windy night in East Rutherford, New Jersey that "Wind" howled for 216 yards rushing as the offensive catalyst. "Earth" provided the points, as Brandon Jacobs rumbled in for 18 of them to help Tom Coughlin and his team finish off a terrific football game in overtime and claim the top seed for the NFC playoffs. The Giants running game regained its mid-season form to the tune of 301 yards, averaging 7.3 yards a carry as a result of Ward's explosives.

After the game Derrick Ward told NBC-NY sportscaster Bruce Beck "We knew that coming into this game tonight, we had to come out and play like the more desperate team... we needed this, we needed it more and we played like it"

Brandon Jacobs simply said, "Sweet as candy".

This game could have easily ended in regulation; The Panthers attempted a 50-yard field goal on 4th and 5 with :09 seconds remaining, but John Kasay appeared to stutter-step a bit as the ball was snapped, and it sailed just wide to the left, missing the post by no more than two feet. That was just one of the many magical moments in this game, as both teams came to claim home field in the playoffs. They came ready, and they came able - but Derrick Ward came in just a bit more willing than everyone else. Just as important was the Giants offensive line reestablishing itself as a force to contend with and to game plan around. Eli Manning was sacked three times tonight - a trend that needs to be dealt with  - but his overall pass protection was otherwise solid, and the run blocking was as good as it's been all season.

The Giants came out flying as fast as the arctic wind swirling around the Meadowlands. On the fifth play of the game, Manning scrambled away from the grasp of Julius Peppers and tossed a perfectly targeted 40-yard strike into the chest of a double-covered Domenik Hixon. The Giants eventually settled for a John Carney field goal for the early lead. For the remainder of the first half it was the DeAngelo Williams show.

Williams shredded the Giants defense for three touchdown runs in the first half, as the Panthers found themselves moving the ball very effectively thanks to the precision passing of Jake Delhomme who completed 8 of 10 to start the game. Particularly crushing blows were landed on a 60-yard completion to Mushin Muhammad, and a 35-yard strike to pro-bowl receiver Steve Smith; but when in range, DeAngelo got the call. Williams added a fourth touchdown in the second half on a beautiful 30-yard run to the outside, and would have been the toast of the coast had Carolina pulled this one out (the loss, along with Derrick Ward's performance, will unfortunately overshadow an otherwise phenomenal night for him). 

The Giants defense did not look sharp for the better part of the first three quarters, despite the return of sorely missed DT Fred Robbins; Justin Tuck - who did not show up on the injury report - was playing with the flu and was clearly in a haze for most of the night. He actually appeared to vomit on the field following a play in the 4th quarter, forcing the Giants to take a time out they would have preferred to save for later in the game. I don't know if it was better or worse for Justin to be taken in and out of the game as much as he was in the final minutes; understandably, the coaches wanted to give him some rest between plays but the man was literally wobbling at points. I wasn't sure if I should be applauding his efforts or screaming at him for not taking himself out of the game. Eventually the defense buckled down through some halftime adjustments to stop the run, as well as changing coverage schemes on Steve Smith.

As is usually the modus operandi  for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, he focused on the one player he felt could hurt the Giants the most; not that the tandem of Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart can't do a lot of damage, but Smith is the guy that will kill you if too much attention is payed to stopping the run. Whatever Spagnuolo did, it worked; Smith finished the night with 3 receptions for 47 yards. It was Smith's second lowest output of the season and halted a 4-game streak of 100+ yard performances. He was shut out the entire 2nd half and the overtime; his last reception occurred with 4:34 left in the second quarter. That play was a 3-yard quick out to Smith which was initially ruled a touchdown, but was overturned on a Tom Coughlin challenge because Smith's knee was down before the ball broke the goal line. It only delayed the inevitable however, as Williams plunged in from the 1-yard line on the very next play to put Carolina ahead 21-10.

The Giants scored another 3 before the half came to a close, but at 21-13 appeared to be as out of it as they had been the past two weeks against Dallas and Philadelphia. After exchanging punts to start the second half (twice for Carolina, who received the opening kickoff), the Giants put together one of their quintessential drives... they took 8:36 of the clock on a 12 play, 84-yard drive that culminated in a TD pass to tight end Kevin Boss that pulled New York within a point at 21-20. Boss had another key grab on the drive, when faced with 3rd and 10 form their own 16 yard line, Manning found Boss on the left side for 11 yards which kept the drive alive. Four plays later, Derrick Ward ran for 22 yards that put the Giants at the Carolina 33 yard line.

Following DeAngelo Williams' fourth TD run, the teams exchanged punts again. The Panthers found themselves pinned back on their own 5 yard line, and punter Jason Baker could only muster a 49-yard kick with so little room to work with. The Giants took the ball from the Carolina 44 and rammed another one in - Jacobs' second touchdown of the night brought them within two points, 28-26. Kevin Boss was again a key contributor on this drive, as his 12-yard catch on 3rd and 5 planted Big Blue right on the Carolina 5 to set up the score. Coughlin emphatically waved at the offense to stay on the field for the 2-point conversion. A nicely designed play faked the handoff to Jacobs running right, as Eli dropped back and hit Hixon to the left as he ran under the coverage of cornerback Ken Lucas. Tie Game. Carolina got the ball back with 3:15 remaining in regulation, and executed a perfectly constructed drive to get them within field goal range with just :09 seconds left on the clock. As I stated earlier, Kasay's kick sailed left... overtime.

The Giants won the toss and went 3 & out on their first drive. Carolina returned the favor, and punted deep into Giants territory. R.W. McQuarters fielded the kick at his own 19, but misjudged the ball as it came down; it bounced out of his cradled arms as panther blue & white jerseys descended upon him. Luckily for the Giants (and McQuarters in particular) he was able to regain control as he fell ass-backwards, but now Eli Manning had to start this drive from the 13. Here's how it all went down from there:

Derrick Ward: 51-yard run up the middle to the Carolina 36... Brandon Jacobs: 3-yard run to the Carolina 33... Manning: incomplete pass to Hixon... Ward: 14-yard run right to the Carolina 19... Ward: 17-yard run right to the Carolina 2... Jacobs: 2-yard touchdown run left guard.

Don't you just love those full play-by-play charts?

Two heavyweights standing toe-to-toe in the center of the ring. This was a fantastic game to watch, and the Panthers showed what a heck of a football team they are. Despite the lackluster play of the Giants in recent games, it's not easy to go on the road and face the defending champs in their house, frigid temperatures and windy conditions to boot. And yet they almost left New Jersey with a huge win had it not been for a boot a few feet to the left - and they would have more than deserved it. 

For the Giants, the goal they've tried to reach for weeks now is securely in their back pocket. The team swagger that Antonio Pierce had talked about "getting back" is back - for now. It will be interesting to see how the Giants handle next week's game in Minnesota. Everyone talks about the fact that last year, they played all their starters against the Patriots in week 17... there's no denying that decision - and their performance in that one game - set the stage for one of the most incredible and unlikely playoff runs in NFL history. But then, at that time, they needed that game - they needed that effort against an undefeated team. They needed to see that they could play with the best of them, and needed to gain the confidence that would fill the tank for the long drive to Glendale, Arizona. Some will rest; I would be shocked to see Fred Robbins, Aaron Ross (who suffered a concussion in tonight's game) or perhaps even Jacobs on the field at the Metrodome this Sunday. I don't know what to expect, and I have no thoughts at this point. I just know it feels different this year, so I'm not expecting the same all-out effort I had the pleasure of seeing live in week 17 last year.

In his postgame press conference, Coach Coughlin said, "You talk about losing two games to divisional teams, but losing them really in not good fashion - particularly offensively. So to go out and to play well... to hang in there - to have the opportunity to get the thing to overtime, was a very very good sign."

A very good sign indeed coach. A very good sign indeed.

 

NOTE:

*DeAngelo Williams' touchdown in the 4th quarter was his sixth rushing score from 30+ yards this season.  It puts him in the record books, sandwiched between the great Jim Brown and ...the great Jim Brown. "First Down" did it 7 times during the 1958 season, and 6 times during the 1963 season. Congratulations to DeAngelo on an amazing year.

 *According to play-by-play man Al Michaels, the pass interference call on Panthers CB  Ken Lucas was the first defensive pass interference call on Carolina this season

Quote sources: WNBC-TV, New York

Posted on: December 20, 2008 4:34 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2008 1:00 am
 

NY GIANTS "Things to Do" List for Sunday 12.21

Mirror Images

 

Antonio Pierce sees two 11-3 teams with striking similarites. He also sees one team that's not being given a chance in the current of thought.

Antonio Pierce thinks Carolina is very similar to Big Blue: same record, great running and strong defense. While his team is hosting the Panthers on Sunday night for what will determine everything regular season success has to offer for the post season - the top seed and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs - he's well aware that most sports radio hosts, newspaper columnists and talking heads on TV are not just questioning the Giants' chances, but are flat out picking them to lose. And Pierce seems quite comfortable with that.

During his weekly interview on WFAN 660 AM, Pierce was asked by host Mike Francesa if there was any sense that the Giants themselves had doubts about whether they felt they were the same team as they were a month ago, when they were in the midst of an impressive 7-game winning streak against solid teams like the Steelers, Eagles, Cardinals and Ravens. "That question doesn't even come into our minds" Pierce stated emphatically, "Hey, we faced two good teams that are fighting for a chance to get in the playoffs... people wish for us to be perfect but we're not...we didn't play perfect ball for two weeks, but does that totally erase the fact that we're 11-3 with a chance to play for the number one spot in the playoffs and a bye in the first week? We've put ourselves in a good position and now it time to finish it... get our swagger back."

That's right, Antonio.

I personally like the fervor behind his words... but should I (and other Giants fans) be a little skeptical about his choice of words? Do they come off as - pardon the pun - a tad defensive? Maybe. As the conversation progressed, Pierce discussed his ongoing issues with the Plaxico Burress investigation. "I'm going about my business the way I go about my business... I'm going out there and playing football, you know? When I'm at work, I'm at work. When I'm dealing with those things, I'm dealing with those things - that's life. That's no different than if I'm dealing with problems on my own that didn't have to do with that situation that happened."

That answer... I like. Why? Because it's never the fact that a player is distracted that bothers me. It's the fact that I never know how that player is dealing with the distraction that does. Hey - even if it's less than forthcoming, at least it's enough to carry me through until 8:15 tomorrow night. 

Pierce holds the Panthers in high esteem; he sees a strong likeness between Carolina and the Giants "A solid offensive line, a solid quarterback, great receivers and a good defense". He specifically acknowledged their terrific running game. He said it's going to be a lot of hard work and preparation to stop the combination of Jonathan Stewart - "a guy who's very big" - and DeAngleo Williams - "a guy who's very fast". With the anticipated return of a healthy Brandon Jacobs, the Giants will need to old up a mirror to that image, and show everyone why they were on top of the league in rushing for the better part of the season.

Pierce also touched on the current thought in the sports media - the current of thought - that the Giants have "lost something".

The tide is high when your team is winning, but the level of confidence in a team is directly proportional to their last watermark. Everyone knows that commontators and anylists make their living off the fortune and misfoutune of teams, players, coaches, etc. Every team in the NFL has gone through it this season. The Colts are the darlings of the NFL right now, but in week 6 there wasn't a single person talking about how they'd bounce back. Speaking of the Colts, was there anyone who predicted the Steelers would be fighting for the #1 seed this week at Tennessee after they lost to Indianapolis? Ben Roethlisberger was raked over the coals after his performances against the Giants and Indianapolis. Look at him now - nothing has changed, he's still the same. Just like Peyton Manning, who is apparently surprising everyone with his play over the past eight weeks. Perhaps they thought having knee surgery less than two months before the season began wasn't a big deal. The sports media is a river; drop a team or player in the river, and they'll control the flow based on the most recent events. If you don't agree, ask yourself this question: What have they been saying about the Cowboys over the last three weeks? What will they say about the Cowboys if they lose convincingly to Baltimore tonight, and where will the current take them?

So after watching NFL Live last night, I was neither surprised or bothered by the fact that Trey Wingo, Mark Schlereth and MarcellusWiley felt it was a foregone conclusion that Carolina would continue to play their hot hand and win the matchup. In the Meadowlands... in the snow... in freezing temperatures... despite the crowd, and despite the return of Brandon Jacobs and most likely defensive tackle Fred Robbins. The Panthers are hot, the Giants are not; that's what sticks to the wall. Being considered a team that shouldn't necessarliy get consideration worked well for Big Blue last year. Let's see if that same flow in the river works this week.

 


 

THINGS TO DO for Sunday December 21st:

1. "Brandon" design: If you've got it, flaunt it. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Any similar phrase applies to the return of #27 after missing time with a knee injury. Carolina's run defense is ranked 18th in the league this year, giving up an average of 112 yards per game. New York's offensive line will need to step it up and open up lanes again with Brandon Jacobs back in the lineup. Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride must go back to the formula that was successful all season - the old "tenderize, marinate & cook" formula. Tenderize the Carolina defense with Jacobs - let him pound them, pulverize them, beat them until they are softened up. Get Derrick Ward in there to add a little flavor, a little zest. Then throw them in the oven with Ahmad Bradshaw when they're too tired and too sore to keep up with him. Game time. Easier typed, than done - but when the Giants could carry it out, it's worked all season long. It will force Carolina to respect the run a little bit more, and even if it buys Eli Manning a single extra second in the pocket it will make a tremendous difference. Right tackle Kareem McKenzie (back) and guard Rich Seubert (illness) are both listed as probable after leaving the Dallas game last Sunday night.

2. Smart, patient play from the linebackers against the run: One of the biggest differences in the Giants' defensive performance the past three weeks has been the inability to stop the run. After limited practicing on Thursday and Friday, it's possible that Fred Robbins will be back on the field. That would be great news for the Giants, whose defense has looked softer in the middle than jolly old St. Nick himself. Tahsard Choice and Brian Westbrook had no trouble smashing through the defensive tackles the past two weeks, despite the efforts of Barry Cofield and Jay Alford. Robbins, if healthy and ready, is the cure for that ill - which would allow ends Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka to pursue the run on the outside. This means that Antonio Pierce, Danny Clark and Chase Blackburn should not feel the need as much to get up on the line of scrimmage as they shadow running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Pierce, in particular, overpursued plays the past two weeks to the point of taking himself completely out of them before they ever developed. In Jeff King and Dante Rosario, the Panthers don't have the mid-range tight end threat the Cowboys, Redskins or Eagles posess; With the big passing threat of Steve Smith being more of a downfield coverage concern for the Giants secondary, the linebackers need to stick to their assignments and act as another "wave" for the front four in containing the Carolina running attack.

3. Make Jake Pay: Jake Delhomme has played well recently, but remains an up-and-down performer overall. Will anyone be able to forget his game against the Raiders earlier this season? Seven completions (27 attempts) for 71 yards and four interceptions... he has three passing touchdowns and seven interceptions in six road games this year, and the Giants Stadium winds will wreak havoc on his ability to throw downfield to his favorite target, Steve Smith. The book on Delhomme is that he'll try anyway, without regard for the conditions. Number two on this list works hand in hand with number three. If the Giants can contain the running game of the Panthers just enough to force them to air it out, Delhomme should provide Corey Webster, Kenny Phillips and Aaron Ross some takeaway opportunities.

 

Antonio Pierce quotes: 660 WFAN "Mike'd Up"   /   Statistical sources: sportsline.com, sportsnet.ca

Category: NFL
Posted on: December 16, 2008 11:31 am
Edited on: December 16, 2008 2:24 pm
 

NY Giants: What Are We Witnessing Here?

Mediocrity Exposed, or just missing Lynchpins? 

           

For the road to Super Bowl 43 to pass through East Rutherford, Big Blue needs two healthy bodies and one clear-minded leader to face Carolina this Sunday.

It was evident from the first snap Eli Manning took; DeMarcus Ware bolted from the left side untouched and plowed into Eli, knocking the ball loose (recovered by the Giants) and creating a 2nd down & 19 situation. That is not how this Giants team starts games. Or at least, it wasn't.

The Giants had an opportunity on Sunday night to all but seal the deal for themselves - a first round bye and home field throughout the playoffs were not guaranteed, but were more realistic than irrational reach when John Carney booted the opening kickoff in Irving, Texas. Defeating the Cowboys in their final visit to Texas Stadium would have been the cherry on top of what has been a season more successful than even the most ardent fan could have imagined. Alas, victory wasn't in the cards - and Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg may become a fitting symbol for the defending Champions who are now displaying a less egregious, but more demoralizing form of self-injurious behavior... One lands you on the DL with a suspension; the other gets you a plane ticket and hotel accomodations should you be fortunate enough to make it to the NFC Championship.

Give credit where credit is due. The Cowboys took care of business at home against a division rival, and they need the victory to stay alive for the postseason. They're defense continues to get healthy and improve, getting more aggressive as the season rolls along. Though receivers Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith showed a lot of toughness and fight, losing tackle Kareem McKenzie to an injury and guard Rich Seubert to an undisclosed illness for the second half did the Giants in as they couldn't get the running game established. In the end it was the eight sacks on Manning and the overall inability to sustain drives that made the difference in the game.

In last year's season opener in Dallas, Manning suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder. Luckily he didn't miss any time, as the injury wasn't serious enough that he couldn't play through it. As a Giants fan, hoping that Manning would emerge unscathed from the piles of white jerseys was the hardest part of getting through the entire game on Sunday. Hats off to Dallas - no one should question their talent or legitimacy regarding the playoffs; Tony Romo was back behind center and was not going to give up - regardless of the amount of pain the Giants' pass rush inflicted on him. 

While the past two games against the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles were dissapointing, there's as many reasonable excuses to point towards as there are unreasonable ones. Mediocre teams don't pull off an 11-3 record in the NFL by sheer luck; meaning, the Giants are not mediocre. They are what their record says they are, and despite the past two weeks and the Burress situation had a very impressive string of victories against solid opponents heading into week 14. Some of what we're seeing with the Giants is obvious. No matter the circumstances, Philadelphia was hell-bent on leaving the Meadowlands with a victory two weeks ago, and Brian Westbrook was the project manager. 

Was it the distractions of week-long headlines about the Latin Quarter, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Antonio Pierce that derailed the Giants against the Eagles? It certainly had an affect on them. But then what about their performance in Dallas? Did Tony Romo's presence make that much of a difference? Even in the two regular season games the Giants lost to them last year, they played with more intensity and managed to stay in the game until the end. On Sunday, the difference was alarming; the 7-3 lead the Cowboys held for most of the game felt like 27-3. So what has happened the past few weeks to keep the Giants from being competitive against these teams?

Three answers: Fred Robbins, Brandon Jacobs, Antonio Pierce.

Every team in the NFL will suffer their share of losses, injuries and off-the-field turmoil. The Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals have proven that some will suffer more than others (check out the Bengals blog by fellow member IGetNoRespect for a well written, heartfelt look at the rash of injuries his team has experienced).  As the 2008 NFL season got underway, the Giants had their own issues to cope with. Michael Strahan retired, Kawika Mitchell and Gibril Wilson - two main cogs in the defensive gears - were lost to free agency, K Lawrence Tynes suffered and leg injury, and Super Bowl hero David Tyree ( their best special teams player ) was put on the PUP list. Then the most devistating of all: losing Osi Umenyiora for the season to a torn lateral meniscus in a preaseason game with the Jets. This was a lot to overcome for the Giants, and to Tom Coughlin's credit they've managed to do just that. The underlying concern has been how they would do if hit with a few more injuries to key positions. In the Giants case, it could take a potentially elite team and render them quite ordinary, All the depth in the world couldn't change that. 

Now we come to the crux of the Giants current state, which is that the wheels are beginning to wobble a bit. Check the lynchpins. 

I'll begin with Antonio Pierce. Pierce is the captain and emotional leader of the new "Crunch Bunch" (a little nostalgia for inspriration - I used to have a poster with Lawrence taylor, Harry Carson, Brad Van Pelt and Brian Kelly wearing hard hats sitting on top of a bulldozer). But Pierce has found himself on the outside looking in; standing around the pile-ups as opposed to being buried in them, and watching backs and tight ends run past him instead of being taken down by him. Here is what I wrote following the loss to the Eagles back on December 7; it's eerily applicable to his performance in Dallas, and I see no reason to alter my commentary of Pierce's performance two weeks ago, while offering it up as somewhat of a bullet point (no pun intended) for future consideration: Antonio Pierce is playing this (Plaxico Buress situation & overall distraction) up as if everything is fine, and that there's nothing taking his focus way from football. After watching him and the rest of the defense today, I wouldn't necessarily agree. It may be unfair to lay everything on Antonio, but he was not on his game today... He was caught out of position quite often, and over-pursued on many of the plays out of the backfield... I'm curios to know if anyone else thinks that Chase Blackburn should have taken over for him at some point... He just seems out of it.

Now let's take a look at Brandon Jacobs. The loss of Jacobs is something the Giants offense can deal with when playing less physically overbearing opponents. However, the Eagles and Cowboys are anything but pushovers; both teams have stout, quick defensive lines that pride themselves on physical domination at scrimmage. What has made the Giants running game so efficient is the 1-2-3 combination of Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. Community member Jimmy the Greek might appreciate the culinary references I like to attribute to Earth, Wind and Fire:  I call them TenderizeMarinade and Cook. Jacobs is the Tenderizer - he pounds you, pulverizes you until your soft and malleable. Ward comes in at this point and gives the offense a little flavor; a little spice to liven things up and provide some zest. Once Bradshaw enters the game, it's time to cook the meat - and the Giants like it "well done". That's the game. Have you ever tried marinating a steak fresh out of the freezer? It doesn't work, does it... well, without Jacobs there to punish a few defenders, the running game doesn't work either. Not against the like of Dallas and Philadelphia anyway.

Finally, the underrated defensive tackle Fred Robbins - the unknown soldier. Robbins has been nursing an injured shoulder for a month. Over the past three weeks, Robbins sat out the Redskins and Cowboys games, and played sparingly against the Eagles. Jay Alford has been filling in for Robbins and while he's done a fine job, does not have the strength, size or experience that Robbins has. In tandem with fellow defensive tackle Barry Cofield, Robbins wreaks havoc in the middle of the line, bottles up runners and forces them to the outside where Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka can either run them them down or allow the linebackers to track them as Tuck & Kiwanuka rush the QB. Clinton Portis was pretty much shut down in large part because of nagging knee injuries; and with Cowboys guard Montrea Holland out, much of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's success in pressuring Tony Romo was a result of mismatch opportunities against Cory Proctor. But don't think it's gone unnoticed that Tashard Choice & Brian Westbrook gained the majority of their rushing yards straight up the middle of the field. In fact , 22 of Westbrook's 33 carries against the Giants were right up the gut, and with the exception of his 30-yard TD run, his 10 carries to the outside only garnered 11 yards. Tashard Choice's blast right through the heart of the line for his 38-yard score further emphasizes the point that Robbins' presence on the field is sorely missed. 

We'll know a lot more as information is released about the Giants infirmary as the week progresses, but it's not overstating it to say that a healthy Brandon Jacobs and a healthy Fred Robbins are a must for the upcoming matchup against Carolina.

And Antonio Pierce having his head in the game wouldn't be the worst thing either. 

Lynchpins. They don't look like much, but they keep the wheels from falling off.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com