Posted on: February 4, 2009 11:20 am
Edited on: February 4, 2009 11:30 am

Ben vs. Eli: We have a winner...

Back-to-back, fourth quarter heroics from a pair of gutsy QB's lead to Super Bowl victories. The debates between the faithful rage on, but there's already a clear cut winner .


On trails blazed years ago by the original "Comeback Kid" Joe Montana, and paved by a more recent legend in Tom Brady, two members of the NFL draft class of 2004 have shown that the art of the comeback is alive and well in postseason play. For now, we can bask in the glory of pure, unadulterated determination - and wave goodbye to the perpetual lopsidedness of a game that for all intents and purposes had become more of a footnote than a meaningful event. It's a sad thing when someone loses passion for what was once a favorite holiday like Christmas, or gives up hope on an old friend. Scores like 55-10 and 52-17 can ruin the magic of the Super Bowl for even the most ardent of us. That's why it's a blessing as NFL fans to be able to say that the best game of the season was the last game of the season, because it doesn't happen often enough.

What made these last two championships so special were the aforementioned pair of quarterbacks drafted in the first round on April 24th of '04. Quite possibly shaping up to be the best QB draft class since the Marino/Elway/Kelly threesome of 1983, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers are proving that all three teams that got them would have been in great shape no matter who they ended up with. But while hearty debates amongst fans of these teams involve all three players, anyone who dives into the deep end of the community pool here at CBS Sports knows that there's only one with legs; one that has been raging on for years that has a life all it's own. When you hear somebody say the name "Elvis", you know exactly who they're talking about. And three little words tell you everything you'd need to know about this ongoing deliberation... Ben versus Eli.

Teams have rivalries, and fans have rivalries. It's part of the game, and it rests on multiple levels that range from benign dislike to malignant hatred. There's usually a deep-rooted history between sides when you talk about true rivalry - with tales of historic battles, euphoric moments of victory and crushing blows to the spirit - all which feeds the beast that grows as the years pass. When it comes to "Ben vs. Eli", the beast is fed only by fandom's blind endorsement of it's own. It's safe to say that Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have little interest in our quest to prove which of them is "better".

We can talk about their stats, which favor Ben. We can talk about their championships, which after this past Sunday also favors Ben. We can talk about  endurance (Eli's strong suit) and toughness (which appears to be Ben's). We can talk about decision making and pocket awareness which at times is a strength and a weakness for both men. If you want to look at the ability to read a defense and change up a play at the line for positive results, Manning's the guy. And when it's all said and done there's no way to rationally resolve any of it, because there's no way to know how Ben would have been as a Giant (which would have been a reality had the Chargers not agreed to trade Eli for Philip Rivers, which is the sole reason the Giants selected him) or how Manning would have performed as a Charger. Different teams and circumstances - don't even attempt to make projections.

There is one undeniable fact; that both Ben and Eli have shown a penchant for cutting their teams loose from the grasp of defeat and finding new and electrifying ways to march them seemingly infinite distances to refuge. The Oasis. In the words of Jonathan Winters in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World - "The big dubble-yuh I tell ya... it's the big dubble-yuh!!". They can frustrate you and make you stand on your seat in the same possession, let alone the same game. They can go stretches of games that make you wonder where their heads are at, and they can be on fire for weeks - invincible. Neither of them have a Jerry Rice to throw to, or an Emmitt Smith to hand off to. Both have had to deal with questionable play calling from their respective offensive coordinators, and both have had the pleasure of working with solid running games (when healthy) and terrific defenses.     

Without being given a chance in hell and without the greater NFL community's expectations draped over his shoulder, Eli was able to enginner two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII - the second with a beautiful touch pass on a fade pattern with 35 seconds remaining. As everyone with a microphone or computer keyboard put it, he'd "grown up right before our eyes". He became the mount Everest of poise, maturity and leadership - compared to his brother and other greats in the game's history, not so much for his stats but for his guts. Forever the toast of New York, regardless of what the future holds for him.  

With expectations of completing the Lombardi trophy six-pack and unfairly qualified as facing "a 9-7 team from a weak division", Ben was able to engineer a 78-yard drive and complete six of eight passes in 2 minutes to put his team ahead with only 42 ticks remaining on the game clock. Everyone will talk about Santonio Holmes' amazing catch and his ability to get both feet down, and they should. But Ben put the ball exactly where it had to be - where no one else but Holmes could grab it. Ben has quickly built himself a reputation and statistical resume that rivals the biggest names in the game during their first five years in the league. Forever the toast of Pittsburgh, regardless of what the future holds for him.

What is more impressive? Overcoming the pressure of fighting the school bully - who everyone thinks will kick your ass in the blink of an eye - by landing the blow that coldcocks him and proves you can fight with the best of them? Or nearly losing a fight you should win against a weaker kid, but having the tenacity under pressure to overcome a surprising shot to the gut that would have sent most others running with their tails between their legs?

So who wins? The answer's simple.

We do.


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 



  • 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)


  • 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)


  • 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)


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


  • 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


  • 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)


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


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


  • 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)


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


  • 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


  • None


  • 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)



  • 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)


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


  • 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                                                                     


  • 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


  • 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)


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


  •  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)


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


  • 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
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Post Deleted by Administrator

This message has been removed by the administrator.

Posted on: November 26, 2008 4:52 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2008 11:34 pm

A Holiday poem for my Favorites...

I know it's a bit early for this poem, but I'm officially in the holiday spirit and had the time to work this up so... Happy Thanksgiving everybody - hopefully we'll have at least one good game to watch tomorrow. The best to you and yours.


'Twas the night before Christmas, and sportsline was ripe -  with blogger's exitement and NFL playoff hype;
We'd posted our stories on the boards with great care, In hopes holiday trolls would stay far from there;

Jimmy_the_Greek planned to be up all night, preparing the turkey by soy candlelight;
Yanks 1in99  fell soundly asleep, as he dreamt of  the Jets - and Brett Favre going deep;

IGetNoRespect could not rest on his lounge, because more Bengals injuries had forced them to scrounge;
Rob Toxin knelt praying as Matt Schaub's knee swells, for he couldn't take one more week of Sage Rosenfels,

As Jokest5894 sat up in bed, and circled his choices with glee vs. the spread;
Sircheecks tiptoed lightly downstairs to approach, for a peek 'neath the tree for a brand new head coach;

momluvs in her 'terrible towel' kerchief, her man in Colts jammies to give her some grief;
Jellydonut leapt out of his bed with a "Yipe!", as he feared that perhaps someone else found his pipe;

And I with my football brain skull powder blue, had just lost more points for a comment on 'poo';
Not a blogger was stirring - not a hot thread in sight, as the sportsline community had called it a night 

When on the front page there arose such a clatter, momluvs logged back in to check on the matter;
Away to the sign in, she typed like a flash - her password she entered, her keyboard she bashed.

The web on the screen shined a light on her face, like the lustre of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl Trophy case;
When, what did appear like the "nutcracker" dancers? But a thread with five pictures - and eight stupid answers;

With a funny old writer - sunglasses in tow, She knew in a moment it was Shuless Joe;
More rapid than thread trolls, his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;


 "To the top of the page - to the top of the site! Now, write away - write away - write away ALL DAMN NIGHT!"

'Twas the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson, alright - and his cigarette holder was covered in ice! 
A big bundle of  goodies he carried inside, as the rest of us ran downstairs - eyes open wide!

The stump of his holder held tight in his teeth, as smoke encircled his Tilley hat like a wreath;
Though a black and white photo with no third dimention, he knew what to give without even a mention.

For Greek he brought spices and jars full of sauce, for Jokest a "push" - instead of a loss;
sircheeks was so happy he started to cry... five more weeks with Derek for a proper "good-bye"

Jellydonut could not hide the smile on his face, as he hid his old pipe in its own brand new case;
Rob Toxin was given a gift oh so vital... a 2009 Texans division title!

momluvs's gift was simply too good to be true, a movie and dinner with Troy Polamalu;
For Respect and BigBlu was a stocking of coal, "I'm sorry," said Joe "'twas the result of my poll."  

Off the boards Joe did log as if shot by a missle, And "POOF" went his writers like Hochuli's whistle;
But I heard Joe exclaim, ere his avatar took flight,




Posted on: November 6, 2008 1:56 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2008 11:57 pm

New York Giants 2nd Quarter Report Card - D/ST

Big midterm exam vs. Eagles counts heavily towards final Grade

 1. An NFL teams' _____________ is directly proportionate to its _____________.

O  credibility; win-loss record

focus; discipline

O  overall ability; individual accountability

rushing success; offensive lines' performance

All of the above

Click on this link for the Offense report card www.sportsline.com/mcc/blogs/entry/

DEFENSIVE LINE / LINEBACKERS:  A+  (last quarter A+) This grading period started off on a bad note. Monday Night Football is always hit or miss for the Giants, but their trip to Cleveland was as uninspired performance by the defensive line and linebackers since week 2 of last season, when the Green Bay Packers came into the Meadowlands and ran roughshod over them. They did not register a single sack on Derek Anderson (who's job had been temporarily saved that night) and RB Jamal Lewis had his best game of the season to date. Granted, Antonio Pierce and Gerris Wilkinson were both hobbled with injuries, but that game served as a wake up call to these units. Since then, they've regrouped and regained their ferocity; they held Frank Gore to 11 yards on 11 carries the following week; they buried Ben Roethlisberger the week after, sacking him four times and knocking him down an incredible 16 times; and picked up where they left off at Heinz field by terrorizing both Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger last week against Dallas.

The Giants are 2nd in the league in sacks; outside of Pittsburgh's dynamic duo of Harrison and Woodley, Justin Tick and Mathias Kiwanuka are the most dynamic pair of defensive inds in the game today. The effort and effectiveness of Kiwanuka - shifted from linebacker to end after the loss of Osi Umenyiora - has given the d-line the continuity it needs to remain tough against the run. Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield have also stepped up their game, and their ability to force pressure on the inside has greatly improved since last season.  

Danny Clark continues to play well at outside linebacker, providing sufficent speed to cover the middle of the field where the Giants have historically been exposed by tight ends. Rookie Bryan Kehl has shown what a 4th round draft pick from BYU can do. He's filled in quite nicely in the absence of Gerris Wilkinson, and will no doubt continue to get playing time as the season progresses. In addition, Chase Blackburn has seen his role increased, even after the return of captain Antonio Pierce form a quad injury.


DEFENSIVE SECONDARY:  B+  (last quarter B+)  This unit could have garnered an "A" or even an "A+" for their performance over the past four weeks, but certain factors - some in their control, some not - have to be considered in grading.What works in favor of a B+ rating is the fact that the Giants are 2nd in the NFL only to Pittsburgh (AGAIN with the Steelers! Geez...) in total passing yards allowed and average yards per game, not to mention their newfound penchant for creating interceptions.

CB Corey Webster (3 INT), along with safeties James Butler and Michael Johnson (2 INT apiece) have been very proactive in reading the quarterback and getting to the ball. Of the Giants 11 INT's this season, 9 of them were picked in the last three games. They're not blowing coverage assignments as much as they had last year, and appear to be instinctively aware of how to react after the receiver has possession (for the most part - Butler's tap dance during Nate Washington's TD reception would be exhibit 'A' against that opinion). The play of 2nd year man Aaron Ross and Webster have pretty much relegated veterans R.W. McQuarters and Sam Madison to backup and special teams roles. Rookie Kenny Phillips continues to impress coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and Spags has responded by gradually increasing Phillips' playing time. Phillips is a heady player (which is how the organization would explain their desire & tendency to go after Miami U players year after year) with a nose for where the play is developing. He hits hard and can punish receivers, which is an element the Giants defense has been missing for a while. And with Kevin Dockery sidelined last week, Rookie Terrell Thomas got his first start of the year. Now that Thomas' nagging injuries are behind him, Spagnuolo might look to get him more involved as well.

The reason that the 'B+' grade sticks for this report card is two-fold: First of all, the quaterbacks they've faced have not been world beaters. They were ineffective against Derek Anderson (who was granted a stay of execution based on that game). Then they took on Big Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, they picked him off four times in rather athletic fashion (three, if you discount the desperation pass in the final seconds), but Pitt was without WR Santonio Holmes, and Roethlisberger's erratic performance had more to do with his getting drilled into the turf 20 times as opposed to making bad decisions. Then there was J.T. O'Sullivan, Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger. No explanation necessary. the other concern had been the lackluster play of Aaron Ross. Josh Morgan and Braylon Edwards schooled Ross in back-to-back games. He was better in Pittsburgh, and really started to return to form against Dallas. He's had a reoccurring shoulder injury which has no doubt affected him, but if he's in the game he's got to perform.

SPECIAL TEAMS:  B  (last quarter B+)  John Carney is 18 for 19 in field goal attempts, and what's more impressive is that his 44-year old leg is 3-3 on attempts from 40-49 yards. His kickoffs have been noticeably been shorter of late, landing between the 10 and 15 yard lines but without the hangtime we saw in weeks 1 through 4. At some point, Coughlin will make the decision to save Carney's accuracy and experience for field goals, and utilize Lawrence Tynes' younger, stronger leg for kickoff duites. Jeff Feagles is still doing what Jeff Feagles does; he's only been called upon 30 times this season (less than four times a game) but still manages to use the field position he's been afforded to his advantage, landing 13 of those inside the 20.

Domenik Hixon and Ahmad Bradshaw have continued to handle punt returns and kickoffs, respectively. They aren't averaging significant yardage, though. Hixon has returned punts at an average of 9 yards a clip, while Bradshaw's 20.6 yards per KOR is on the low end of the league average. While they've done a fine job protecting the ball and avoiding trurnovers, it would be nice to see those averages go up a bit as they get more comfortable in their roles - especially heading into the meat of the schedule. he Giants punt and kickoff coverage has been spectacular, thanks to the efforts of the aforementioned Ahmand Bradshaw, Zac DeOssie and Chase Blackburn. They rank 2nd in the league in average kickoff return yardage allowed, and 3rd in the leage in average punt return yardage allowed.


Statistical sources: sportsline.com, nfl.com, pro-football-reference.com


Posted on: October 26, 2008 9:46 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2008 2:34 pm

RECAP: Giants 21, Steelers 14

Who's the Boss?

Giants D batters Roethlisberger; Four Carney kicks & late TD to Boss gives NY victory

It was the championship prize fight it was supposed to be - two big boys slugging it out in the center of the ring toe-to-toe. The ring was the Heinz field gridiron; the reigning champ was the visitor - the former champ and #1 contender was at home, surrounded by fans and familiarity. Both came to fight and they fought hard. Jabs were few and far between as both seemed hell bent on knocking the other guy to the mat. In the end,  the reigning champ - who was against the ropes for the better part of this match - scored a late knockout and staked their claim as "current" champ.

What a great game. What a strange game. It was smashmouth football at it's finest. There were injuries - some that sidelined players for a bit, some that knocked others right out of the game. While the Steelers defense was more efficient in guarding against big plays and extremely effectiive against the Giants running game, the Giants defense was better at getting to the quarterback.

The Giants had the opening drive and couldn't do much with it, going 3 and out. The Steelers went to work quickly on the midsection of the Giants, pounding RB Mewelde Moore (who started in place of the inactive Willie Parker) and nailing TE Heath Miller on a 22-yard strike right up the seam. 2 plays later, Moore rammed through the right side of the line and sprinted 36 yards for the first TD of the game, putting the Steelers ahead 7-0 only 4:44 into the 1st quarter.

The Giants controlled the clock in the early going, despite the quick strike by Pittsburgh. However, Tom Coughlin's "Green Zone" (his term for red zone) offense couldn't punch it in. Following John Carney's first of four field goals which made the score 7-3, Ben Roethlisberger threw his first of four interceptions on the day. Big Ben targeted Hines Ward (3 receptions for 30 yards) but threw low to the outside of his receiver and was picked off by a diving James Butler. The ensuing drive by New York carried over from the end of the first quarter into the second quarter. The Pitt defense was swallowing Brandon Jacobs (18 carries for 47 yards on the day) and were right on top of Giants receivers the minute they touched the ball. On 4th and goal, - inches from the end zone - Jacobs was stonewalled for the third straight time and the Steelers took over on downs. Pitt went three and out; on the punt, kicker Mitch Berger injured his hamstring and limped off the field. While Berger stayed in the game (and was quite effective), this was just the beginning of the Steelers punting units' woes.

Roethlisberger's second interception of the game came with 8:02 left in the half. By no fault of Roethlisberger's, a perfectly thrown pass to Nate Washington was outdone by a perfectly timed hit by Butler that popped the ball out of his hands right into rookie linebacker Bryan Kehl, who snatched it out of the air and ran it back to the Steeler 44. That possesion resulted in another field goal for the Giants, as the Steelers kept pressure on Eli Manning and the running game. NY was up 9-7 at halftime as the result of yet another stalled drive for the Giants offense and another John Carney field goal.

In the 3rd quarter, the "close but no cigar" antics of the Giants offense would bite them in the rear. Following a Jeff Feagles punt to the Pittsburgh 35 yard line, Roethlisberger heaved a perfectly thrown ball to Nate Washington along the left sideline for a 65 yard touchdown, putting the Steelers back on top 14-9. Safety James Butler actually looked surprised on the play; he displayed mad ballet skills as he pirouetted around Washington as he ran by him. In other words, Washington made Butler look ridiculous without having to do anything. It was Washington's only reception of the day, though he was denied another long TD pass later in the game - which I'll get to later in the story.

After the kickoff, the Giants again went three and out as the battle for time of possesion started to swing in favor of the home team. Pittsburgh started their next drive on their own 23 yard line, and began to move the ball effectively with the impressive work of Mewelde Moore (19 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD). Roethlisberger drove the Steelers to the Giants 36 yard line, and it looked like Pittsburgh had the Giants backed into a corner. The only thing needed to put the game out of reach was the knockout punch. Despite taking two consecutive penalties that pushed them back 20 yards- an illegal formation on Hines Ward, followed by an unnecessary roughness call on center  Chris Kemoeatu - Roethlisberger landed a haymaker in the form of another deep strike to Nate Washington for a 53-yard touchdown.

Flag on the play. Holding on Willie Colon. Beautiful pass, great catch - null and void.

Make no mistake about it, this was the turning point of the game. Colon held Justin Tuck as he shot up the middle after Roethlisberger, and it was clear that - had Colon not dragged Tuck down - Big Ben would never have gotten that pass off in the first place. The drive ended in another punt by Mitch Berger, who was limping onto and off of the field by this point. What was shaping up to be the moment a winded and defenseless Giants team was slumping against the ropes - expecting to see Mills Lane jump in flailing his arms - some weak punches and near misses gave them just enough time to catch their breath and muster the energy for one more barrage.

In the fourth quarter the Giants took nearly six minutes of the clock on a 12 play, 62 yard drive that ended with - you guessed it - another John Carney field goal to put the Giants within 2 points - just a fifth field goal away from taking the lead. Visions of Matt Bahr in San Francisco danced through my head. Steelers 14, Giants 12.

The Steelers were pinned in their own zone for much of the fourth quarter as the Giants defense began smacking Roethlisberger to the ground with regularity. It had been a long, hard fought game by this time, but it was obvious that the Giants defense benefited from the rest Eli Manning and the offense provided them. The Pittsburgh offensive line, which had done a very good job for most of the game, had nothing left in the tank. On 4th and 22 from their own 18 yard line, Pittsburgh was forced to punt. Long snapper Greg Warren had left the game with a knee injury, so linebacker James Harrison replaced him (in one of those "ouch" moments that make you look away and grit your teeth, Warren's left knee buckled under him as he was being helped off the field - bending in a direction no man's leg should ever bend). Harrison's snap sailed over the head of Mitch Berger and out of the end zone for a Giants safety to tie the game 14-14. While the ball sailed 8 feet over his head, the fact is Berger wouldn't have been able to handle anything but a perfect snap because he couldn't jump or move side to side with his hamstring issue. Berger was very uneasy waiting for the snap and looked as if he was hobbled just standing still. His body language was telling about the extent of his pain; he showed a lot of guts in staying in the game and kicking as well as he did.

Ahmad Bradshaw pulled down the free kick at the 31 yard line and scampered 16 yards up to the 47. On a key 3rd and 7 from the 50-yard line, Eli Manning fired a bullet into the gut of Steve Smith (3 for 45) down to the Pittsburgh 25 yard line. Brandon Jacobs found light for the first time and barreled for 8 yards down to the 17. Three plays later, Manning tossed his first and only touchdown of the game, finding a wide open Kevin Boss (4 for 34) to put the Giants ahead with 3:11 left in the game. Pittsburgh ran their last four plays on the next drive, with Roethlisberger's 50-yard desperation launch getting picked off by safety Kenny Phillips to seal the deal.


*Ben vs. Eli :      Roethlisberger - 13/29 for 189 yards - 1 TD - 4 INT       Manning 19/32 for 199 yards - 1 TD - 0 INT

*Between The Lines : Ben Roethlisberger was knocked down 15 times and sacked 5 times. By comparison, Eli Manning was not sacked, and knocked down only 3 times. The rushing yardage totals were close, though neither team reached 100 yards. The Steelers, however, were much more effective in their running attack - averaging 4.5 yards per carry. New York averaged just 2.4 yards a carry.

*More "dropsies" for NY - Four to be exact. Two short ,simple passes to Madison Hedgecock went in and out of his hands like a hot pot of coffee. Mario Manningham dropped a similar pass later on with no one around him, and Jacobs took a handoff on a run that he let slip out of his grasp a few steps beyond the line. Manning may want to ask the coaches about this, because after three games of similar problems no else seems to notice.

*Injuries : Giants CB Kevin Dockery was knocked out of the game with muscle spasms. RB Brandon Jacobs also spent time on the sidelines during the fourth quarter, and appeared to be walking gingerly at times. He did come back in the game however, but team doctors will want to take a look att him this week. The Steelers lost Greg Warren as mentioned, along with Strong Safety Ryan Clark. No word yet on the extent of Clark's injury. As mentioned, punter Mitch Berger was hobbling and both will likely be evaluated on Tuesday. Also, Roethlisberger appeared to grab his left hand after a 1st quarter handoff to Moore. He immediately went to the sidelines to have it wrapped. It didn't seem to bother him afterwards, but it might be worth keeping an eye on.

*Terrible towels? How about Terrible Support : How about terrible attention to details... I had previously posted here that I was really surprised at the number of empty seats during the last 2 minutes of the game. As momluvsfootball pointed out, fans might be watching from the ramps along the upper tiers. I did in fact notice that during the last drive but never equated one with the other. I also spoke to a friend and Steelers fan today who has gone to games at Heinz field and said he's done this as well. Steelers fans (knowing some of them personally) are in fact loyal and knowledgable, and my questioning of the empty seats was more out of wonderment than trying to be accusatory. So in light of this information I apologize for the original criticism of the Steelers faithful I had posted.




Category: NFL
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