Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Giants - Packers review III

Some other little notes and observations from the Packers game follow:

It's still disappointing that Amukamara was not on the field at the end and the Giants had to rely on Blackmon, who was signed off the street just two weeks ago, to play man coverage on the outside against Jordy Nelson. They lined up right underneath me, I looked at the matchup and said to my brother, at the game with me, "if I were Rodgers, this is where I would go";  3 seconds later Packers were in FG range. Can't beat up Blackmon too badly - he said he hadn't played CB in 6 or 7 years and his coverage was really not that bad. It required a perfect throw by Rodgers, a great catch by Nelson and an athletic, acrobatic move by Nelson to twist his body around and keep his feet in bounds. Not sure Amukamara would have done much better, but I would have liked to see him on the field. In today's papers, Amukamara said he was battling some foot injury - the foot he broke earlier was sore and he turned his ankle during the game. But Fewell said after the game that the Prince was fatigued. So - which was it - fatigue or a foot injury? Reading between the lines, it sounds to me like Fewell was ticked that Amukamara got beat a few times and was sitting him. 

The Giants offense and Eli had a really great game and kept the Giants in the game with several key plays and clutch drives. Giants were down 21-17 at halftime and the Packers, aided by a bogus PI call against Amukamara, took the ball down the field and scored on the opening possession of the second half, giving them a 28-17 lead. If the Giants don't do something offensively right there and the Packers come back and score, all of a sudden with an 18 point lead, the game looks out of reach and could turn into a rout. Kind of what happened the week before against the Saints - Giants closed to 11, went down 18, made a turnover and instead of competing, they were mentally ready to board the bus to the airport. But Eli comes out and on the first play hits Nicks on a deep post for 50 yards, which immediately lifts the mood of the team and sure pumped up the crowd in the stadium. Then, Eli converts on the drive and takes them in for a score after only 3:20 and 5 plays to get the Giants right back in it, trailing by only 4.

Packers took the next kickoff, got a few first downs but Giants stopped them and forced a punt. Packers punted perfectly and covered it down on the 1. Here was the second impressive, clutch drive by the Giants. If the Giants play it safe, run it a few times and punt, Packers get great field position and are poised to get another score and open up that 11 point lead again. Instead, Giants move the ball impressively down the field from the shadows of their goal post and move into position for a FG, making the score 28-27. There were two great plays on that drive that showed me the quality of the QB and the offense. Giants had a 3rd and 7 from their own 4. Eli looked at Cruz coming across the middle on a short in cut. But the S read the play and moved up to try and pick off the pass. Earlier in the season, Eli probably would have thrown it and it would have been a pick, effectively ending the game. Instead, Cruz and Eli read the S, and adjusted the route. Cruz stopped in his tracks and faded back outside. Eli cocked his arm, but when he saw Cruz double back to the outside (maybe it was an option route where this was one of the reads) he held up, pulled the ball back, reloaded and hit Cruz on a beautiful little 10 yard gain for a first down. After that Giants OL opened some nice holes for Jacobs right up the middle who ran the ball effectively for about 30 yards on 4 or 5 carries, but Giants had another 3rd and 7 at about midfield. Eli was given good time to throw and hit Ballard on a beautiful out route, where he had to get it over the S and LB and drop it down into Ballard's breadbasket just before he went out of bounds. Giants drive stalled after that, but they kicked a FG, moving the ball impressively from their own 1. This FG made the score 28-27 and kept the game as a 1 score game, even if the Packers were to score a TD (which they did).

After an exchange of punts, the Packers scored with a little less than 4 minutes left and the Giants offense responded again with a TD drive to tie the game with a little less than 1 minute left in the game. In total, Giants had 4 possessions in the second half and had 2 TDs, 1 FG and 1 punt, all playing from behind, all critical to tying the game. Impressive stuff. 
Blatant Second Guesses (permitted if you're a blogger):

Giants had 1st and goal at the 2 with 1:16 left in the game trailing by 8. Of course they needed a score, but they also did not want to leave time on the clock for Rodgers. I understand that you can't waste plays - because you can't control how many tries you need to get in, but the Giants should have thought of running the ball there once in order to burn some clock. Instead, Eli threw two incomplete passes on 1st and 2nd downs, and hit Nicks for a TD on 3rd down. The scoring drive happened at 1:02 wasting only 14 seconds on the clock for all three plays combined. If they had run once and wasted say 30-35 seconds, they still would have time to score and would have left Rodgers only 25 seconds instead of 58. Then, perhaps the Giants play a more conservative defense, keep the Packers off the board and force OT. 

Jacquian Williams probably should not have gone or the ball on the first play after the Giants tied the game. He should have tackled Finley after 10 yards and not given him the extra 15. (Play the man, not the ball works in hockey, but also seems to fit here.) I don't know if Fewell reminded the defense to "keep them in front of you", or if the defense was instructed to play aggressively and go for the ball. Giants were in a man-to-man for that entire possession, so maybe Williams was just going with the flow. 

I've said this a few times - Williams has made some mistakes this year, but he is very athletic and will be a good player in the future. Giants will need him to play well this week against the Cowboys. Cowboys have very good outside threats and the S's on the Giants will be paying attention to Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Laurent Williams making sure they don't get deep. That leaves Jason Witten and Martellus Bennet as threats to hurt the Giants in the middle of the field. Boley, Williams and the LBs have to play well in pass defense this week, especially with S Phillips likely out this week.

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