Tag:San Francisco
Posted on: October 19, 2008 8:59 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2008 1:27 am
 

Giants/49ers Recap: All That Glitters Ain't Gold

29-17 not as good as it sounds

NY wins 5th in Sloppy Fashion - with a strong pass rush and a lot of luck.

Watching the game between the Giants and 49ers today conjured up memories of two of my favorite movie moments. Do you remember the opening scene to "Office Space", where Peter Gibbons and his coworkers are stuck in morning rush hour traffic? Peter would swerve out from his lane when he saw movement to his left, only to find himself at a dead stop watching cars pass him to his right. The other scene is from "Meet The Parents", as Gaylord Focker sped from red light to red light in a race to beat Jack back to the house before he discovered that it wasn't the "real" Jinxy.

For anyone unfamiliar with these movies, I apologize for such an extraneous reference - at the same time, I suggest you visit your local Blockbuster once in a while. For those of you who know exactly what I'm talking about but did not see the game, you get an idea of what it was like; there were periods of complete stillness followed by bursts of exitement that eventually came to grinding halts. When two teams combine for 24 penalties totaling 214 yards, it tends to slow the tempo a little.

San Francisco came into the Meadowlands with Frank Gore - 4th in the league in rushing with 524 yards and an impressive 4.9 yards per carry. They also brought J.T. O'Sullivan, who's lost some of the luster he had earlier this year following 7 interceptions in his last three games. O'Sullivan also leads the NFL in fumbles. On the other side of the ball, the Giants were taking the field without their defensive leader, linebacker Antonio Pierce (quad), and their starting weak side LB Gerris Wilkinson (mcl strain). Chase Blackburn and Bryan Kehl started in their place, respectively.

The good news for New York was that the relentless pass rush - that was non-existent in Cleveland - returned full force. They tallied six sacks on the day, including 2 from Justin Tuck and one from Fred Robbins, which ties them for the team lead with 5. The secondary was suspect, but all-in-all Steve Spagnola's crew managed to force four turnovers - an element of their game that has been lacking so far this year.

The Giants started off sluggishly on offense. Eli Manning was more accurate than his stats would indicate (16 of 31, 161 yards, 1 TD), in part the result of three dropped passes by Plaxico Burress, Brandon Jacobs and Amani Toomer in the first two drives alone. Manning was far from looking sharp, however. He had 4 passes batted away and was very close to being picked off three times - one on an out pattern to Steve Smith that Nate Clements read perfectly but couldn't leap high enough to grab. Another of Eli's throws seemed to be purposefully targeted at a white road jersey that simply couldn't hold on to the gift it was given. In the 4th quarter, Manning threw towards the right sideline for Toomer, but FS Keith Lewis cut off the pass and knocked it down - there's no reason why he shouldn't have caught that ball.

On the Niners second drive of the game, an illegal motion penalty and two Frank Gore runs that resulted in negative yardage pinned San Francisco back to their own 15. The Niners punted and Domenick Hixon took it in at the NYG 46. Four plays later, Brandon Jacobs found a seam on the right side of the line and rumbled toward the sideline, untouched, for a 26-yard touchdown to put them ahead 7-0.

On the ensuing possession, O'Sullivan (16 of 28, 256 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) appeared to find a rhythm remeniscent of Derek Anderson on Monday night; quick drops and quick releases on slant patterns as he marched the Niners up the field. The drive stalled and San Francisco settled for a 40-yard Joe Nedney field goal. The Giants scored again on the next drive with another Jacobs TD run of 2 yards to make the score 14-3. The drive went 8 plays for 73 yards, but 46 yards of it were the result of two Nate Clements penalties - an unnecessary roughness for 15 yards and a pass interference call on Plaxico Burress for 31 yards.

Speaking of Burress, the Giants nearly had a potential meltdown on their hands. Following an undeserved offensive pass interference call with 7:19 left in the half that had Burress visibly upset, he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct as New York was lining up to punt. His jawing continued as he passed Tom Coughlin heading back to the bench (leaving himself a 10-foot buffer between the two). Coughlin appeared to be asking him what the hell he was thinking out there. I haven't been able to decipher what Burress said in response, but the look on his face indicated it wasn't of the "rated PG" variety. Though the exchange was never heated, Eli Manning and others had to calm Plaxico down for some time before the next possession.

Rookie wide receiver Josh Morgan (5 for 86, 1 TD) and O'Sullivan started clicking in the 2nd quarter, connecting on 3 passes for 58 yards on the next possession - including a 30 yard TD strike to make it 14-10. John Carney kicked his 13th consecutive field goal to put the Giants up 17-10 at halftime. Carney's streak would come to an end in dramatic fashion later in the game.

Aaron Ross, who was covering Morgan, struggled all day along with the rest of the Giants secondary. Despite two Michael Johnson interceptions in the 2nd quarter (which were more a result of exrtemely poor decision making by O'Sullivan), the Giants pass coverage looked very beatable this afternoon. San Francisco receivers were open more often than not. Had it not been for O'Sullivan's inexperience and some timely drops, San Fran's passing stats may have looked quite exceptional; it seemed like Steve Spagnola was in zone coverage, with d-backs always converging on the receiver after he'd already made the catch over the middle and gained some yardage. The loss of Pierce no doubt had a hand in this, but the speed we saw earlier in the season has not been there for the past two games.

A Manning-to-Burress hookup for 6 yards at the 9:13 mark of the third quarter extended the Giants lead 24-10. Despite O'Sullivan's success in finding open receivers in the second half, his penchant for fumbling and Frank Gore's inabitlity to penetrate the Giants front line pretty much sealed the 49ers fate. Their only other score was on a blocked field goal attempt with 2:03 left in the 3rd quarter when Jeff Feagles appeared to bobble the snap from Jay Alford, and Carney booted a line drive right into the open hand of Manny Lawson. Nate Clements scooped it up within a second and dashed 74 yards into the Giants end zone to make it 24-17.

O'Sullivan fumbled four times resulting in two turnovers; the last one happened as he was sacked by Justin Tuck at his own 20 yard line. The ball squirted out and rolled quickly towards the end zone when Josh Morgan intentionally kicked it past the end line, resulting in a safety for New York which gave them the 29-17 victory.  

NOTES

*Niners RB Frank Gore was held to 11 yards on 11 carries. It was his lowest yardage output as a starter in his career - and the least amount of yards he's rushed in a game since December 11th, 2005 when he had 2 carries for 5 yards.

*Derrik Ward had another impressive day: 4 carries for 19 yards & 3 receptions for 50 yards. It makes you wonder; if Ward were to take the majority of the snaps, would he be nearly as effective?

*Eli Manning - again - didn't appear to recognize when he was potentially throwing into trouble. It wasn't as noticeable as it was in Monday night's performance, but for the second game in a row he failed to utilize pump fakes, and wasn't checking off as often as he usually does. Maybe he felt he didn't have to, but as I stated above he was very lucky to escape this game without an interception.

*One of the characteristics of the Giants defense the past few years had been giving up the big pass at the most inopportune time. While that trend had reversed itself toward the end of last season, the 21-yard completion from O'Sullivan to Arnaz Battle in the 4th quarter was a bit frightening. Why? Because it was 3rd and 20, and the Giants were leading by 10 points early in the fourth quarter. That play won't be remembered, only because Josh Morgan - who had been solid all day - let a 40-yard pass that was right on the money slip through his hands. Had he hauled that ball in, San Francisco would have had 1st and 10 on the Giants 19 yard line.  

*The Giants were flagged for 11 penalties totaling 80 yards.  

*Plaxico Burress caught his 3rd touchdown this season, but had less receiving yards than Ward (50), Steve Smith (39) and Toomer (31). 

 

Posted on: October 18, 2008 11:30 pm
 

NY Giants: "Things to Do" List for Sunday 10/19

Getting a little soft in the middle?

The absence of a Giants pass rush on Derek Anderson last week had as much do to with an injured linebacking corps as it did a solid effort by the Browns O-line (which it was). Antonio Pierce was playing with that strained quad muscle, which put the burden of handling the defensive signal calling on Chase Blackburn while Antonio sat out consecutive series' on the sideline. What probably made matters worse was when Antonio actually played - he was visibly slower than usual and just didn't have the strength to cover anyone on passing routes over the middle. Losing weak side LB Gerris Wilkinson (MCL strain) in the 2nd quarter thrust rookie Bryan Kehl into full-time duty, which is not exactly the way Tom Coughlin would have liked to introduced Kehl to that responsibility.

Over the last two seasons the Giants D has made its living off of blitzing the quarterback into submission. Adjustments had to be made to account for losing Michael Strahan and Kawika Mitchell. Further tweaking to the defensive scheme was required when Osi Umenyiora was lost for the season. While they haven't resembled the sack-happy bunch that dropped opposing QB's 53 times last season, they've been able to hang tough and apply pressure quite effectively with Justin Tuck & Mathias Kiwanuka on the outside.

But losing Pierce and Wilkinson?  Even the most ardent supporter of "system" over "talent" should be concerned about this matchup with San Francisco tomorrow. J.T. O'Sullivan may have hit the skids in his last few games, but all the Giants need to do is look back at Derek Anderson on Monday night. As Chris Farley's character Matt Foley would say, "I'm here to tell you that you're probably gonna find out, as you go out there, that it's not gonna amount to Jack Squat!!"  

The Browns effectively used timing patters in the passing game to keep Anderson from holding the ball too long. Either we simply witnessed a lackluster performance Monday night, or Romeo Crennel figured out how to handle the Giants "v.08.3" pass rush. Should the latter be the case, the Giants better expect a lot more of the same from O'Sullivan this week. They need to set the tone and right the ship now, before they open that creaky basement door and descend down the cobwebbed staircase towards the hellhole which is the second half of their season.

1. Make O'Sullivan beat you deep. Lets face it, Cleveland was a hibernating monster. Spring arrived last week and New York happened to be the clueless tourist walking through the forest when the monster woke up. The Niners don't have the same caliber passing attack, but are talented enough to take advantage of an inexperienced trio of linebackers. RB Frank Gore is the bread and butter, and he's given the Giants fits before. Crowd the box; stop Gore and bring the safeties up to contain the intermediate and midfield passes. Forcing O'Sullivan to throw deep to Isaac Bruce, Vernon Davis and Bryant Johnson might be the most effective approach.

2. Press coverage to force interceptions. O'Sullivan broke fast from the gate, but over the last 3 games has thrown 7 interceptions and just 4 touchdowns. In building on item #1 on this list, have cornerbacks Corey Webster & Aaron Ross play man-to-man. They both have enough speed to keep up with Bruce and Johnston (who may yield time to Josh Morgan if his groin injury is still bothersome) and both have the ability to catch and hold the ball.

3. Spread the wealth, Eli. Manning has been able to hit multiple targets and involve everyone in the passing game this season, but last week he locked in exclusively on Burress. The pair teamed up for 4 completions for 58 yards and a TD, but they were out of sync for the majority of the game. After it was clear that nothing would be happening between the two, Steve Smith became Manning's safety valve, hauling in 9 catches for nearly 100 yards. Eli took the heat for the disconnect with Burress, but it ultimately doesn't matter who was at fault. Smith, Sinorice Moss, Amani Toomer et al. need to be involved to take pressure away from Burress and spread the defense. When in this mode, Manning isn't telgraphing his passes and, as a result, not throwing interceptions.

 

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 17, 2008 5:54 pm
 

Once is a lapse, Twice is a choice

Giants can put Monday Night behind them with strong effort at home this Sunday

The title of this blog entry is making a bold suggestion; that if Tom Coughlin's troops were to come up short again this Sunday, a more prepared, more determined opponent would not be the reason why.

The old adage. On any given Sunday... But does that term really apply to every situation?

On the surface, it most certainly does. The St. Louis Rams trip to to FedEx Field last week is proof of that. Miami defeating both the Chargers and Patriots supports that statement even more. However, I've been thinking about two games the Chargers played - the Monday night affair against the New York Jets, and the New England game this past Sunday. I had no doubt whatsoever that the Chargers would win those contests, and win them big. It was based strictly on a hunch - a gut reaction to something rather than scientific breakdowns of the matchups, personnel and likely gameplanning. If I were a betting man, I would have felt comfortable with plunking down a hefty (but budgeted - in case my wife is reading this) sum on San Diego in both of those games.

Before facing the Jets, San Diego suffered a very controversial and frustrating loss to Denver. This was the game that changed Ed Hochuli's life; ruling Jay Cutler's fumble an incomplete pass. The whistle blew.  No change of possession. The Chargers went home with a thorny 39-38 loss in their side. I had no doubt that SD would come out firing against the Jets - and being the better team that's exactly what they did. Fast forward 3 weeks later, and they're trouncing a delapidated New England squad. This was following what they would consider an embarrassing performance against the revitalized - yet less talented - Miami Dolphins. What's the connection between these two games? Why was I, like so many others, so confident that these games would end up just as they did?

It wasn't because Phillip Rivers is a better QB than Brett Favre or Matt Cassel, or that Norv Turner can out-coach Mangini or Belichick. It wasn't about analysis or head-to-head stat comparisons. There are three very simple, lucid reasons - They were home, they were pissed, and they're a better team. Doesn't that just seem to make so much sense? Would they're be any other angles to look at, details to flesh out or elements to consider? A team gets embarrassed on the road. They want revenge. What else do they need to get back on track if they're home, they're pissed and they're better than who they're facing? Does this imply that preparation and focus can be tossed aside? Of course not. And why not? Right. Say it with me this time... they're home, they're pissed and they're better. Besides, the "better" is born out of preparation and focus anyway, so it's already taken care of.

This is, in fact, a Giants blog. Not that you would remember that after reading that much blah-blah about a team 3,000 miles away from New York. Hopefully you're still here, and starting to see the big picture come in to view regarding this game at The Meadowlands on Sunday (FOX @ 1:00 pm). The Niners are on a 3-game losing streak, but you can bet you're $99 NFL licensed Danny Kannel jersey (#13) that they watched that Monday night game. They watched an uninspired defense allow Cleveland full acces to downfield passes, and an uneven "new and improved" Eli Manning make bad decisions that many (including me) thought were long behind him. San Francisco needs a win. They feel the NFC West is still within reach. They're coming to Giants Stadium this weekend to get that win.

Are the New York Giants looking for that win? Try asking anyone on the team that question and they'll either laugh or growl. It's a stupid question - the kind that doesn't apply to the notion that there's no such thing. This is one that shouldn't be asked. Because it shouldn't have to be asked.

The Giants are home. The Giants are better. Are the Giants pissed? We'll know by the mid-way point of the first quarter on Sunday. There's no question they want to put Monday night behind them and show the world that they aren't that team. That Eli Manning isn't that quarterback. That yes, indeed, they're defensive line is that good. The Giants and they're fans will feel a whole lot better if they are convincing, and everyone will sleep well Sunday night knowing that what happened the first four weeks wasn't an empty promise to themselves and their faithful. No predictions, no promises. Just the question of whether or not the Giants are pissed.

It's their choice. In the next three weeks they face Pittsburgh, Dallas and Philiadelphia. Three teams that can limit choices pretty effectively.  

One more thing... Week 2 of Preseason. On August 18th the Giants humiliated their opponent at the Meadowlands. There were dropped passes and botched handoffs, and a devistating blow to their quarterback who was led by trainers to the locker room for head x-rays. Do you remember which team that was?

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NY Giants Quotes for this week:

Tom Coughlin:

"We've got a lot of stuff to correct. It begins right away unfortunately. It's a short week for us, but we have a lot of things that we have to deal with and I think we'll be about the business of correcting."

" We do have to focus on a lot of things. Our formula for winning kind of went by the wayside, in terms of we haven't turned the ball over [and] we did turn it over and that's not a good thing. We didn't really effectively stop the run and that hurt us."

Eli Manning:

"From play to play, game to game, you can't think about what previously happened. Whether it is a good play or bad play, you have to move on and think about this next play or this next game and what you have to do to prepare."

"Sometimes it is harder than just saying it, but I think over the years I have learned to do that and do it well. I have put it behind us, try to learn from it, learn why those mistakes occurred and what to do next time, and I think you learn some good lessons and you never stop learning lessons at this league and whatever level, just reminders of what to do under certain situations. I think I have learned that and I am ready to play this week."

Justin Tuck:

"We don't have to wait an entire week to get back onto the field to get that taste out of our mouth"

"We didn't really show up on Monday night, we didn't like the way we lost. I'm not psychic, so I don't know but I am willing to say that you will see a different Giants team. Guys are very eager to get back on the field."

 

Quote Sources: Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning - New York Post (10/16/2008), Justin Tuck - New York Daily news (10/16/2008)

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