On the surface, we should be somewhat concerned about the Seattle game. It may not be a classic trap game, in the narrow sense of the word, but it still has some of the requisite elements. A trap game is one against a weak opponent (true), when your team is on a roll feeling good about itself (also true) and has a big game against a tough opponent coming up the following week (definitely NOT true.... our boys get the awful Cowboys again, at home this time). It fits 2 out of the 3 criteria for a trap game, so perhaps we should worry. The theory is that the overconfidence of the team, especially coming off a gritty road win, will make them treat the current opponent lightly and they will look ahead to the following week. Frankly, I don't see that happening with this team, they seem really together and don't have me-first, arrogant guys that will be overconfident.
More worrisome perhaps, are the memories we all have of the Giants last two games in Seattle, which were bitter defeats. In 2005, Giants got called for 11 false start penalties, 6 of them on Pettigout. Feely missed 3 FGs that would have won the game, but the Giants lost in OT. The game in 2006 was not close - Giants were down some 30 points in the first half, made the score respectable in garbage time, but were dominated in the game. That was the infamous "we were out-coached" (Shockey) game. So the venue itself may make it tough, but in addition to that, the Seahawks are 3-0 at home, are +8 in turnover margin at home and have a dangerous kick return game with ex-Jet Leon Washington doing a great job. The biggest threat is turnovers and ST, but that's not a big revelation; those are threats every week. The fact is that the Seahawks are near the bottom of the league statistically on both offense and defense and the Giants should beat them if they manage the turnovers. Consider the following which makes the match up look good for the Giants:
- Seattle has a weak OL, having given up 8 sacks last week to the Raiders. In addition they lost their best OL-man to injury; he was put on IR this week. Giants seem to get after the QB pretty well this year, so this match up looks good for the Giants.
- Hasselbeck is out and backup Charles Whitehurst (who is thought to be pretty talented and is their apparent QB of the future) will be making the first NFL start of his 5 year career. Perhaps he is good, he is talented, but he is also inexperienced and may have trouble against the Giants defense. I look for Fewell not to blitz very much, to let the DL take care of the pass rush and to try to confuse the young QB with different coverages rather than to gamble on blitzes.
- Seattle's defense is ranked very low in pass defense (29th) but not as bad in rush defense (10th). Defensive statistics can be a little misleading, but a weak pass defense also seems like a good match up to the Giants effective passing attack.
One thing to watch out for is that Seattle does have a lot of sacks, but that could partly be a function of the fact that they have a weak pass defense, so teams are invited to pass a lot against them, giving the defense more opportunity for sacks.
I saw a great quote from Pete Carrol in the paper. He was asked what the biggest difference was between coaching Seattle and coaching USC. He said: "We don't win every week".
Terrell Thomas and Steve Smith were both in Carrol's factory at USC. Smith said he saw on film some of the schemes and plays that they used at USC. I hope he was helping the coaches game plan for Seattle.
A look back at some coaching decisions in the Dallas game: Wade Phillips' first flag was to challenge the spot of the ball on Mario Manningham's first down in the 1st quarter. Even though it looked like a reasonable play to challenge - Manningham did seem to get a generous spot - it was really a stupid call by Phillips. First of all, spotting the ball is the hardest challenge to overturn and has a low success rate. Second of all, it really wasn't that critical a play to challenge. It was only a difference of 1 yard and while it is true that it meant a possession change, it was not that important - Giants were still in their own territory and it was only the first quarter. Under those circumstances, you have to be sure you're going to reverse the call.
Wade Phillips was signaling for a time out after the Witten fumble near the end of the first half. Why? Did he want to give the Giants more time to score? On a change of possession, the clock stops anyway; perhaps he wanted to make sure that the refs reviewed the play, but they were doing that anyway. The fact is, he just does not have control of the game.
What was Gilbride thinking when he called a pass with 3:35 to go in the game and the Giants up 18. The only way to make the game close was to allow the Cowboys to score quickly. And the only way that could happen is on a turnover. Giants should have run the ball, punted and made the Cowboys go the length of the field 3 times to win the game. Not much chance of that with 3:35 left.
Speaking of Wade Phillips, why did he not kick a FG to make it a 2 score game instead of going for it on 4th down.