Tag:Ray Lewis
Posted on: November 16, 2008 9:09 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2008 3:11 pm

RECAP: Giants 30, Ravens 10

Score one for the Irresistible Force

It's business as usual for the Giants running game as they improve to 9-1, and take command of the NFC playoff picture

The Baltimore Ravens came into today's game boasting the strongest rushing defense in the league, only allowing 65.4 yards per game. And as most expected, they extended their streak of not allowing a single running back in a game to gain 100 yards rushing to 29 games. But they certainly aren't happy about it. Ahamad Bradshaw - third from the top of the New York Giants RB totem pole - fell just short with 96 yards. And the only reason he didn't get the extra four was because the only thing left to do at that point was ask Eli Manning to take a knee at the Ravens' 16 yard line for the last two plays of the game to see zeros on the clock and secure the Giants 30-10 win at the Meadowlands.

The much anticipated showdown between the Giants running game and the brick wall known as the Ravens defense wasn't much of a showdown at all. In fact, I'd bet that Ray Lewis - who on his conference call with reporters earlier this week said, "The bottom line is that we stop the run.  That is fact." and said of starting RB Brandon Jacobs, "I don’t care how big his size is, football is football" - is probably embarrased at his defense's performance this afternoon. That's not to say it wasn't the effort of the giants offensive line, or the will of Jacobs, Ward and Bradshaw to get every last inch of field available to them that made the difference in this matchup. The Giants - despite an 8-1 record and being defending Super Bowl champs - were the ones who had everything to prove today. No one expected them to rush for 207 yards. No one.

Two hundred seven yards.

Jacob's set the bar high on the Giants' first possession, running for 53 yards and the game's first touchdown. On his first touch of the game, Jacobs ran to the right and smacked into a wall of players, but spun 270 degrees around and shot out towards the left for 36 yards on what was the most vital play of the game. The importance of gaining nearly half the total average the Ravens allow per game - in just one busted play - was something they never seemed to recover from. On 1st down from the Ravens 10, Jacobs plowed through the middle of the line and banged a few bodies before getting tripped up at the 1-yard line. By the time he scored the first Giants' touchdown two plays later, the faces of the Ravens defense told the story. They were already worried about what to expect next. By the end of the first quarter, Jacobs obliterated that per game average with 11 carries, 72 yards and two touchdowns.

Ravens defensive end Trevor Price was quoted after the game as saying "When you do that against our defense, you have some confidence. It makes things easier. The way it happened was a fluke; We had him, but he bounced and went all the way to the other side. You don't think that a big back can run that fast, but he does". So much for not caring how big his size is.

Unfortunatley, the first quarter would be his last quarter; despite not appearing to have been hurt, Jacobs left the field and headed into the locker room with initial reports being that he was going in for x-rays. Later in the second quarter, it was said that Jacobs simply needed some re-taping. In any event, Jacobs stood cheerfully on the sidelines the rest of the game and handed the reigns over to Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. We should expect to hear something by Tuesday if Jacobs did, in fact, sustain an injury of some kind. Derrick Ward shouldered the load through the second and third quarters, gaining 41 yards on 11 carries. Ward's true impact was in the passing game when Baltimore started to put more pressure on Manning, catching 4 passes for 54 yards.

Eli Manning (13 of 23, 153 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) looked sharp in the ealry going with a nice 21-yard strike to Plaxico Burress that set up that first Jacobs score. The Ravens were able to defend nicely against the pass, and Manning had some trouble getitng the ball to his well covered receivers. Manning's only TD pass was a 1-yard toss to TE Darcy Johnson early in the 2nd quarter.The interception by Ray Lewis at the 1:51 mark of the second quarter was a brilliant play; Lewis floated in the underbelly of the Giants receiver routes and saw Manning was looking for TE Kevin Boss. Boss was running to the middle of the field from the right, so Lewis got down low and broke in front of the pass form the left.

The star of the game was Ahmad Bradshaw. 8 of his 9 carries - all in the fourth quarter - totaled just 19 yards. But that one carry... the one with 14:31 left in the game. The first play of the drive... the handoff he took from Manning at his own 19-yard line that ended on the Ravens 2 yard line. That was the carry. The Giants were leading 27-10 at that point, and there wasn't much proof that the Ravens were going to come back in this one. But after having given up 120 yards on the ground, Bradshaw's 77-yard sprint right up the middle of the field was the salt in the wound. On the play, Ray Lewis was directly in front of Bradshaw as he wiggled through two defenders in the backfield; Lewis over-pursued Bradshaw and was only able to wrap his left arm around his waist as he cut to his right. Bradshaw was at full steam and broke away from Lewis on his way to the other end of the field. The Giants could only muster a field goal on the drive, but it was the final plunge they needed to drive a steak through the heart of the best rushing defense in the NFL today.

Enough can't be said about the performance of Joe Flacco (20 of 33, 164 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT). While his stats won't indicate it, he showed great pocket presence and awareness of when to run the ball. The fact that Flacco was the teams leading rusher - accounting for 57 of the Ravens' 121 yards - says a lot about what he had to deal with in this game. He was sacked only one time and knocked down a few others, and of the two interceptions he threw one was not his fault; a nicely thrown ball on a crossing pattern by WR Derrick Mason bounced off his facemask and into the hands of Giants CB Aaron Ross, which Ross returned for a 50-yard touchdown. It was Ross' second interception of the game. They were also the first two interceptions Flacco had thrown since week 5 at Indianapolis. Despite the picks, Flacco had everything working against him today and yet he was the main reason the Ravens had a punchers' chance in the second half. His arm strength is unquestionable and his mobility is a terrific asset. Most impressive was his focus and demeanor in a critical game that was slipping away from him - he didn't look like a rookie.

For those seeking resolution to this week's overused paradox (I'm as guilty as anyone) promoting today's game as the "irresistible force" meeting the "immovable object", the answer was as clear as the season is long. And as always, we learn from this game as we have many others that there's no such thing as a sure thing. One thing is for sure - the Giants are for real. Most thought they hit their stride, that Manning finally matured and the team got a bit lucky in the playoffs. Most thought they defeated an over-confident, underachieving Patriots team with an injured quarterback in the Super Bowl. Many said they benefitted from weaker opponents earlier this season. Many felt they won in Pittsburgh because of a bad snap to an injured punter. Some argued that they beat Dallas because Romo was sidelined and the defense was depleted. Some contend they were lucky in Philadelphia after almost giving the game away, saved only by lousy play calling on Andy Reid's part.

In the days ahead, we might hear from a few that think the Ravens run defense simply had a bad game.

The Giants are 9-1. What else is there to say? 



 Another one bites the dust: Once again, the Giants were successful at stopping their opponents' leading rusher. Willis McGahee joins a distinguished list of backs this season such as Frank Gore, Marion Barber, Brian Westbrook and Clinton Portis. To appreciate the effectiveness of the Giants defense against these elite backs so far this season, look at the combined statistics of all five 75 carries, 198 yards /  2.6 yards per carry / 0 touchdowns.

 3 X 200 = 3-0: The Giants have rushed for over 200 yards in each of the last three games.                                                                               

 Corner-back in business: CB Aaron Ross' two interceptions were his first of the season. After a run of games where receivers were getting the better of him (beginning with Braylon Edwards in Cleveland, week 5) Ross' picks and his 50-yard touchdown should go a long way in rebuilding his confidence. 

 #372: Ravens Kicker Matt Stover set a record for consecutive PAT following Le'Ron McLain's 10-yard TD reception .

 Health Kick: Lawrence Tynes was handed FG kicking responsibilities for the first time since returning from his leg injury. His first few kickoffs were short, as he was reaquainting himself with the swirling winds of the meadowlands. John Carney was deactivated for the game.

'You play to win the game' : This Wednesday marks the 30th anniversary of the "Miracle at the Meadowlands" or as Giants fans call it, "The Fumble". On November 19th 1978, the Giants were perfectly positioned to pull off a huge upset over the Philadelphia Eagles. With possession, a 17-12 lead and time running out, a simple kneel-down would have ended the game. Inexplicibly, Joe Pisarcik attempted to handoff to Larry Csonka. Pisarcik fumbled the ball, and an Eagles cornerback named Herman Edwards picked up the loose ball and ran 26 yards for the touchdown. Former linebacker Harry Carson still considers that the worst defeat he was ever a part of, and perhaps the worst in Giants franchise history. '"HEL-LO!"


statistical sources: sportsline.com, nfl.com  /  Trevor Pryce quote: cbs sports wire reports  /  Ray Lewis qoutes: nyg.scout.com


Posted on: November 15, 2008 11:19 am

NY Giants "Things to Do" list for Sunday Nov. 16

Big Blue needs to remind Flacco, "this is what an elite defense looks like"

I love you Baltimore, every day's like an open door
Every night is a fantasy... Every sound's like a symphony

And I promise Baltimore, that some day when I take to the floor
The world's gonna wake up and see, gonna wake up and see
Baltimore and me...

-Tracy Turnblad's opening number from Hairspray

I imagine that Joe Flacco's outlook over the past two month's would resonate with the feisty lead character from the John Water's movie. Though his stats are average, at this point in the season it's clear that he's the Ravens quaterback of the future and deserves to be. He's a tall, lanky guy with a strong arm and keen awareness in the pocket. He's willing to do anything necessary for a Ravens victory - even running deep routes as a receiver when called upon.

What the Giants have that Flacco hasn't seen in some time is a top-notch defense; his last four games have been against the Dolphins, Raiders, Browns & Texans. Those defenses aren't exactly instilling fear in the hearts of quarterbacks this year. It's against those teams that Flacco has furthered his development and sharpened his skills. Before that he'd faced Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Indianapolis (the Colts couldn't stop the run if they armed the d-line with AK 47's but their pass protection ranks 7th in the league). Those consecutive matchups accounted for all three Ravens' defeats this year. In those three games Flacco was sacked five times and threw 5 interceptions to only 1 touchdown.

It's not to say that Flacco didn't learn from those experiences, and it would be unfair to suggest that less intense defensive opposition over the last few weeks has in any way relaxed Flacco. Just the opposite should be expected - which is why Steve Spagnuolo has to come out flying Sunday. The only hope Kevin Gilbride's offense can have is that they learned something against the Steelers and whatever adjustments made to go head-to-head with the Baltimore defense will be successful. The game will be won for the Giants if they can keep Flacco from putting points on the board.

THINGS TO DO for Sunday November 16th:

1. Don't abandon the run: Sure, Baltimore hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 28 straight games - and it's easy for me to sit at my computer and proclaim that streak won't last forever. The Giants can't run the ball with the express purpose of winning the "mine is bigger than yours" battle, but that shouldn't be a concern because Tom Coughlin is smarter than that. However, it's an element of the game that Coughlin can't avoid - nor should he want to. There's a reason the Giants are the #1 rushing offense in the NFL, and testing his offensive line and running backs against the best in the game will be strictly about getting the "W" and continuing the growth process of his team. Too many teams go to the pass when their worst nightmares are realized in the first half against the Ravens. Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward are not on those other teams - and Baltimore hasn't faced a running game like this (with the exception of Tennessee in week 4, but one could argue that rookies Chris Johnson & LenDale White were still finding their way around a formidable NFL defense).

2. Force the Ravens to abandon theirs: With all the talk about "Earth, Wind and Fire", it's easy to see why Baltimore's 149 rushing yards per game slips under the radar. Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain and the emerging first-year Rutgers standout Ray Rice provide the Ravens a nice little 3-headed monster of their own. The New York front four of Justin Tuck, Fred Robbins, Barry Cofield and Mathias Kiwanuka will have their hands full with the Ravens o-line. With field position and time of possession being the key factors in what should be a low scoring game, the Ravens running game needs to be stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey. Make Joe Flacco throw the ball and hope that Kenny Phillips, Corey Webster & company can do their jobs.   

3. Be smart, Eli: The Ravens are fully anticipating they'll stop the run this week. In all likelyhood, they'll go as far as to load up the box and challenge Eli Manning to beat them through the air. The one thing that concerns me in this game is Eli's penchant for having that one atroicious home game every year (last year's was the 4 interceptions against Minnesota - three of which were returned for touchdowns). Inexplicably, Manning's done this every season, and this game just screams of an encore performance. Eli will have had this in the back of his mind all week, but he won't have a fleeting thought of it come Sunday. No matter what he accomplishes, Manning's consistency and mental toughness will always be questioned. Time to show the league that the perennial model of defensive toughness can challange him, but not nake him flinch. It's not about stats or flash, it's about Manning making good decisions as he has the majority of the season. He has the weapons with Kevin Boss, Steve Smith, Amani Toomer, Domenik Hixon and Plaxico Burress. Someone will be open.


statistical sources: sportsline.com, pro-football-reference.com.

Posted on: November 13, 2008 11:39 am
Edited on: November 14, 2008 12:26 pm

Giants running game vs. Ravens rushing defense

King Kong vs Godzilla

What will happen when the Irresistible Force meets the Immovable Object this Sunday at the Meadowlands?

I have this vision in my head I can't shake: Brandon Jacobs being flown in by helicopter a-la "Operation Dumbo Drop" to the summit of Mt. Fuji, where awaiting his arrival - clenched teeth, fists securely on hips and head held high - is Ray Lewis. Jacobs is released from the harnesses and plummets to the ground, rolling as he lands to break his fall and taking cover behind a large boulder. Lewis begins to stomp towards the boulder when Jacobs grabs his legs from behind and the battle begins. Fire, lightning, and a whole lot of destruction ensues as the two rumble their way down the mountain and drag each other through the Atami Castle and crash into the Pacific Ocean. 

Anyone who's been around long enough to remember the epic battle that occurred in the climactic scene of Ishiro Honda's 1962 movie "King Kong vs. Godzilla" can relate to the story above. It's a ridiculous vision, but it's the one I have - my reoccurring theme whenever a much anticipated game is on the horizon that has a story line such as this one.  

The Baltimore Ravens have had the most dominating rushing defense in the league this season, allowing opponents a measly 67 yards per game. When Baltimore ceremoniously dismantled the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, the Ravens defense was considered to be one of the best NFL fans had ever seen; at least since the days of Buddy Ryan's '46' of the Chicago Bears in the mid '80's. In the four seasons following that Super Bowl, Baltimore's run stopping ability struggled at times, but was still formidable (their worst ranking was 13th in 2002). But over the last three years, Coordinator Rex Ryan (Buddy's son) has roused the dormant beast - and the resurrection of  the Ravens defense is complete. His 3-4 scheme is thriving with such talents as Terrell Suggs, Bart Scott and of course Mr. Lewis. Ryan's squad finished 2nd in the league in run defense in 2006 & 2007; they're currently 1st in the NFL as they travel to New Jersey this weekend. Their travel companions are a 2.8 yards per carry average and a shot at sole possession of first place in the AFC North (they're tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who host a desperate San Diego Chargers team). 

The Giants - as an organization - have always placed more emphasis on the running game than the passing game. From the dissapointing Doug Kotar, Larry Csonka &  Bobby Hammond era of the mid 1970's to today, New york has fixated on the ground attack. It served them well in later years with the likes of Joe Morris, O.J. Anderson, Rodney Hampton and Tiki Barber. But what we've seen from the Giants backfield since the latter part of last season is an entirely different beast. It has three heads, and every head has it's own unique talent. Combined with a Pro-Bowl caliber offensive line that's opening holes to the tune of 169 rushing yards a game, the Giants are 1st in the NFL in rushing offense this year with 1,520 yards and a 5.2 average per carry.  Brandon Jacobs is 4th in the league with 806 yards, which is impressive when you consider he's 12th in the league in rushing attempts.

Ray Lewis and the Ravens will not be the only obstacle the Giants have to overcome on Sunday. A successful Giants' ground game will be reliant on the energy level of an offensive line that's been through the ringer the past three weeks. Three weks ago they faced James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and the Steelers. That contest seemed to take a lot out of them, because the Dallas Cowboys registered four sacks on Eli Manning a week later, which is the most they've allowed in a single game so far this season. They rebounded last week against the always physical and sometimes nasty play of the Philadelphia Eagles (not that there's anything wrong with that... it's a divisional game, both teams were ticky-tack), allowing just one shot on Manning while Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw ran for a combined total of 219 yards.

You have to wonder how much gas is in the fuel tank, at least for this week's game. I have no doubt that the o-line is primed for the long haul. They're a stable, solid unit that is firing on all cylinders. Had the schedule makers constructed things differently - if the Giants last three games were against the Rams, Seahawks and 49ers for example - confidence in their energy and readiness would make this an even matchup. The reality may be - and Giants fans need to be prepared for this possibility - that the o-line has no more than a punchers chance in this one. It will take a herculean effort for them to get the job done on Sunday. Fortunately, these are the five guys who can do it if anyone could.   

King Kong & Godzilla's battle raged into the Pacific Ocean, as I previously mentioned. At the end of the film, Kong comes out of the water and pounds his chest before swinning off into the sunset toward his home on Faro Island. You're left to wonder what happened to Godzilla. Did Kong defeat him? Is Godzilla dead? Did he slip away, retreating to safety so he could live to fight another day? We already know the answer to that one - 40 years of lesser quality sequels (everything's relative) proved that Godzilla was not done, not by a longshot. Gojira - as the japanese call him - would be back as a force to be reckoned with for a very long time, wreaking havoc on evil monsters all over the eastern hemisphere.  

Whatever the outcome of the Ravens/Giants game on Sunday, I have a suspicion that the loser will be heard from later in the year and live to fight another day, a force to be reckoned with.


movie info source - Barry's Temple of Godzilla: www.godzillatemple.com ; statistical source: sportsline.com


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