This was a peculiar game. It had some moments where the Giants looked dominant and looked like they were in complete control of the game. But it had other moments where it looked like the game would completely slip away from them and the 1-4 Lions would be able to break their 23 game road losing streak. You could argue that the Lions made a few stupid mistakes, like the personal foul that gave the Giants another chance at a TD instead of settling for a FG; or the fumble that Deon Grant recovered that was the result of a drop, not a great hit or strip by the Giants. Many have said that the Giants should have dominated the 1-4 Lions (now 1-5) and that the Lions, down by 4, driving for the winning TD with only 5 minutes left in the 4th qtr indicates that the Giants were lucky to get out alive. They were favored by 10 1/2 and should have locked the game away early. That superficial analysis comes from an impression of the Lions from their 0-16 season two years ago. The fact is that although they were 1-4 coming into the game, 3 of those 4 losses were by less than 5 points. We all remember the opener against the Bears when Calvin Johnson caught a winning TD pass only to have the call reversed and ruled a drop because of a rule technicality. I'm not arguing the rule, just saying that the Lions had the game won. These 3 loses were by a total of 10 points. They are a much more talented team than their record indicates; they haven't quite figured out how to close drives and close out games.
Giants defense against the run was outstanding. Their pass defense was good, but not great. There were a number of dropped passes by Lion receivers that could have resulted in more yardage for their team. The pass rush was good, but not dominant. It would have looked better, statistically at least, if not for a few scrambles by the Lions QBs that resulted in some good gains and nullified some good pressures.
Bear Pascoe had a huge game and he is clearly more comfortable in his blocking assignments out of the FB spot than he was when he first took over for Hedgecock. It seemed like on every big run, Pascoe was leading the charge making a good lead block. He even made a good catch on a swing pass that Hedgecock never would have caught and eluded a tackler to tack on a few extra yards after the catch that Hedgecock certainly would not have done. Hedgecock is bigger, but Pascoe is quicker and might be a more effective player at the position. I go back to my preseason blog post where I praised Pascoe profusely and was certain that he was going to make the team. I was shocked that he did not and that the Giants carried only 2 TEs coming into the season. I hope his play has cemented his position on the team. He is definitely a keeper.
The OL is definitely coming around, especially in the running game and the Giants are near the top of the league in rushing yardage. But Diehl is still a weak link on this OL. On the two sacks that the Giants gave up on Sunday, one was right through Diehl. The second was really on Eli - he had an empty backfield and held the ball too long - allowing Suh to loop around and make the sack. I've been saying this for weeks now - Diehl is the weak link on the OL and every game he takes points off the board for us. On the first series of the game, when Eli missed a wide open Hicks on a deep post, he had to throw the ball early because Diehl let his man through and was about to clock Eli if he did not release it at that moment. Eli said in an interview after the game that because he threw it a little earlier than he wanted to, he had to guess exactly what angle Nicks was taking on his post route and he guessed wrong. With a great LT, Giants would have had two more TDs on Sunday. Nicks was in single coverage several times on Sunday and the Giants could have taken some shots deep if they had confidence that the pass blocking would hold up the extra second it takes for those downfield plays to develop. I sure hope they are at least planning on experimenting with Beatty at the position when he comes back from his foot injury, although it will be hard to experiment in the last 8 games of the year. Giants have 10 games left and 6 are against division opponents, which will be really tough games.
Eli was pretty good Sunday. Of his 10 incomplete passes, 4 were because he was rushed and threw the ball away, 1 was on a screen pass where the play fell apart and he threw it into the ground intentionally.
Antrel Rolle took a bad angle to the ball on Calvin Johnson's long TD pass. Terrell Thomas undercut the route looking to make a play on the ball, and Rolle should only undercut the receiver when he is jumping the route and is 99% sure he can make a play on the ball. Otherwise - he is a safety, which means he should keep everything in front of him. Later in the game, Kenny Phillips demonstrated how it should be done by giving help to Corey Webster on a deep sideline pass and arriving from behind to hit the WR just as the ball was arriving.
The Giants right side of the OL was very productive. Even when the Giants brought in Andrews as an eligible receiver and put him on the left side of the OL as an extra TE, they still ran back to the weak side and made good yardage behind Snee and MacKenzie.
It looks like the punter is starting to come around and we finally saw why Coughlin had so much patience with him. He has a huge leg. Even though he fumbled the snap on his first punt, giving the Lions a short field for their first score, he absolutely nailed a few other punts and didn't shank any of them. Maybe he's getting closer to become a real putner. On the first good punt he hit which was downed on the 4, Chase Blackburn got credit for covering the ball. But Zak DeOssie, who is the long snapper made a huge play by beating everyone downfield, slapping the ball back into the field of play when it looked like it would go into the end zone for a touch back. Great hustle by DeOssie. (Still my favorite trivia question - DeOssies are the only father/son combination to win superbowls for the same franchise.)