Under the Radar Plays
One of my favorite things to do when analyzing a football game is to look at the "under the radar" plays. By that I mean - everyone notices the big plays, the sacks, the picks, the scoring plays and remembers those. Sometimes there are subtle plays that seem relatively unimportant at the time, but in retrospect have a big hand and a causative effect on setting up that big play. A few such plays from the Jets game follow:
Giants were up 20-14 and had the ball with 4:55 left, 1st and 10 at their own 18, trying to run out the clock. 3rd and 3, DJ Ware runs for 17 and gets hit out of bounds for another 15 yards. Advancing the ball 32 yards is not a minor under the radar play, except the Giants did not score on the drive, did not hold the ball much longer, ran it 3 more times and then were forced to punt. Nice play perhaps, but it didn't lead to any offensive points and didn't allow the Giants to run the clock down much. However, as I have often sermonized about on this blog, football is all about field position. The extra 32 yards brought the Giants out across midfield and when Weatherford punted, he did so from the Jets 40 and trapped the Jets down on the 8 yard line. That set up the safety by Canty which iced the game.
BTW - Weatherford has had a great year punting for the Giants. I remember only one bad shank, he has been directionally punting beautifully, getting some great length and hang time. Great move grabbing him. I was sure someone would grab Dodge after the Giants cut him because he has a cannon for a leg. But I guess teams want consistency from punters, not five great punts mixed in with two or three horrible ones. You can't only consider average yards per kick or even average net yards to measure a punter's effectiveness, but need also to view his kicks in percentiles. Punter needs to kick 95% mostly effective kicks, and have only a small percentage of shanks in order to be an effective kicker.
Another important, somewhat under the radar play was JPP's sack of Sanchez right before the half. Sanchez had just hit his TE Keller for 15 yards to the Giants 19. He then threw two incomplete passes and had a 3rd and 10. If he throws another incomplete pass, Folk is set up for a fairly easy 36 yard FG. JPP's sack knocked them out of chip shot FG into a 44 yard attempt that is a little harder. The difference in success for most kickers in FG accuracy for kicks below or above 40 yards is significant. Folk was sitting on the sideline for 3 plays expecting to kick an easy 35 yard (or so) FG and suddenly has to kick one that is closer to 45. He missed it badly wide right. (I love the sound of that - wide right.)
The PI call on Deon Grant against Dustin Keller on 4th down that kept the Jets second TD drive going was a ridiculous call. There was barely any contact, Keller saw that he was too well covered and that the ball was out of his reach so he initiated the contact bumping into Grant and acted like he lost his balance because of the hit drawing the PI. Without the penalty, Jets don't score. In fact, they needed a gruesome two many men on the field penalty against the Giants (isn't that a 2 minute minor?) to allow them to convert another 4th down play on their first TD drive.
On the Canty sack for a safety that iced the game, Tuck made a really good play to make it happen. Tuck got some penetration against Wayne Hunter, jumped up in Sanchez' face obscuring his vision, forcing him to pull the ball down and hold it a beat longer looking for an open passing lane. By that time, Canty broke through his block and sacked Sanchez.
I don't think we really appreciate how great year Victor Cruz is having and what a savior he has been. H is 3rd in the league in passing yards and couldn't get on the field in several of the first few games because Gilbride thought he made too many mistakes in route running. They were so concerned, in fact, that after Dixon went down with an injury, the Giants brought in Brandon Stokely as the slot receiver. Stokely got cut and Cruz got the wake up call necessary to motivate him to work harder and keep his job. Aside from massing piles of yards, he has made several critical catches that set up winning scores for the Giants. This past Sunday against the Jets, he made the 99 yard TD run, he caught a 36 yard pass that was the biggest play on the Giants second TD and he made a 30 yard run and catch that got the Giants down to the 2 and set up their FG.