Webster's New World Dictionary
post mortem: adj. [L., after death] 1. happening, done or made after death
What a disappointment. I said I was nervous about the game going in. Sometimes you can over analyze a game and look at every minute detail and fail to step back and look at the broader trends that control the flow of the game or the flow of the season. Eagles have a top defense which was playing better and better as the season went along. Giants, though they had a wonderful regular season, had their offense slowly decline after Burress shot himself in the leg which ended his season. It is true that they had a productive game against the Panthers, but look what the Cardinals just did to the Panthers - they have an awful defense and Giants productivity in that game can be somewhat overestimated (not misunderestimated as "W" might say). Furthermore, the defensive line and the overall defense declined somewhat in the second half of the season and seemed to generate a pass rush rarely, mostly when they brought a blitz. You have to say that the Eagles defense really has the Giants number, matches up well against them and knows how to stop them. In the last two games that the Giants played against the Eagles, the Giants scored only 1 TD on offense - a late, meaningless garbage time TD at the end of the regular season game in Giants Stadium. On Sunday in the playoff game, the Giants scored 1 FG set up by the opening kickoff return and 1 FG set up by the Robbins INT, which means that the offense scored only 1 FG generated by its own meaningful drive. It is true that Carney, the soon to be ex-Giants kicker, missed 2 FGs after some movement by the offense. It is also true that the Giants gained more yards than the Eagles and they were not dominated by the Eagles. They were not blown out. It was a close, tough typical playoff game. Giants offense moved the ball a little bit here and there. They ran for 140 yards and made a few successful passes here and there, but the Eagles defense was sufficiently disruptive to the Giants offense that they could never put cohesive drives together. The Giants offense moved deep into Eagles territory 5 times and came away with 5 FG attempts, 3 of them made. That is where the loss of Burress really came to hurt them: deep in the opponent's territory. Ever since Burress left, Giants success rate in scoring TDs declined greatly. Gilbride and the offense were never able to compensate for his loss. The conversion rate on 3rd and long also declined after Burress incident. Replacing Burress and finding a real passing threat is a priority in the off-season. I am not quite sure why Moss was never worked into the offense. We have no idea if he is a pro player because of how little he was used. As a result of not using him, when Burress went out, the team did not have confidence in him and he was not game tested.
Eagles DB's were able to shut down the Giants WRs. Eli did not have a good game throwing the ball, but he did not have a lot of open targets to throw to. Giants WRs just could not get separation from the Eagles defenders. Eagles blitzed on well more than half of the defensive plays, both run and pass. When a defense gambles that much, you are supposed to be able to burn them some of the time, because if they don't get to the qb, you should have 1-on-1 coverage everywhere. It rarely happened for the Giants - Eli did not get sacked, but the pocket was always collapsing around him and he did not often have a nice clean pocket to throw from. I am still reviewing the video of the game and will have some interesting stats tomorrow as well as some breakdown of some of the key plays, but for now: there were not many opportunities for Eli to make plays that he missed. It was a real team effort: inability by the OL to block consistently, inability of WRs to get separation and Eli missing a few throws when he had the chances.
OF course, the big play was the INT that Eli gave away. It was a mystifying play. he hasn't made a play like that all year. He was rushed, had Hixon open for only a second and because of the rush, had a defender right in his face with his arms up, blocking the passing lane. Eli let the ball go without really seeing Hixon and threw it leaning back off his back foot. He should heave thrown the ball away or taken the sack. It was a terrible decision to throw the ball and a terrible throw, with his mechanics out the window. Eagles did nothing offensively in the first half until the last drive, when Giants sat back in a prevent defense, inexplicably. Even when they had the ball at the 2 after the INT, it took them 4 plays to get into the endzone. Still after a dominant defensive 1st half, the Giants went to the locker room trailing 10-8, when they should have been ahead.
The crusher play, the game turner was the 3rd and 20 that the Eagles converted on a great play by McNabb in the 2nd half. Giants had just taken the lead 11-10 after the FG following Robbins INT. They almost had McNabb sacked on that 3rd and 20, but he escaped. if they had gotten the sack, they would have gotten the ball back at about midfield and might have been positioned to take control of the game. But McNabb made that great play and the wind came out of the Giants sails. From that point on, Eagles were in command.
The 2 missed FGs by Carney were absolute killers. In addition to taking 6 points off the board, they left the Eagles in great field position and they moved in for scores on both possessions. The two failed fourth downs later on hurt, but the Eagles were already in control of the game at that point and the Giants were desperate.
More analysis tomorrow.