Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Giants: Conference Championship game review

Steve Weatherford had a great game punting for the Giants, particularly with some 50+ yard punts in the 2nd half when the Giants needed to protect field position in the low scoring game. He also made a great play on the low snap to pick it up and get it down for Tynes on the game winning FG. Laces out for Ray Finkel.

Also - great punt by Weatherford early in the 4th quarter, aiming to kick it right off Kyle Williams knee so the Giants could recover. They must have worked on that in ST all year and finally it paid off. Great throw by Eli to Manningham on the TD pass that put them ahead following this muffed punt recovery. It was also a gutsy call to throw the ball into the end zone there. It would have been real easy, on 3rd and 15 to play it safe and settle for 3 points on the theory that you only then need a FG to win the game. Great call, great read, great throw.  

That's two conference championship games in a row that Giants have been in where Tynes hit the game winner in OT following a turnover by the opposition deep in their territory. This game also hearkens back memories of the last time Giants played a conference championship game on the road against the 49ers. Of course, that was the famous 3-peat game, when Matt Bahr kicked 5 FGs, the last one coming as time expired, also after a late 49er turnover in Giants 15-13 victory. Not that I'm superstitious or anything, but I watched the game Sunday with my good friend, with whom I also watched that game in 1990.  That 1990 game had everything in it - Giants called a half back option pass on the goal line with Dave Meggett throwing to a wide open Maurice Carthon in the end zone and Carthon dropping the easy TD pass. It had a fake punt by the Giants early in the 4th quarter, with Giants LB Gary Reasons who was blocking as the up-back taking the snap from C and running about 30 yards to set up the Giants 4th FG. It had the Giants knocking Joe Montana out of the game on a blind side sack from Leonard Marshall. It had the 49ers bringing in Steve Young off the bench, who nearly won the game for the 49ers, until DT Erik Howard stripped RB Roger Craig with LT recovering the fumble. Hoestetler hit a few plays to Mark Bavaro and Stephen Baker to move the Giants in FG range and Matt Bahr kicked the winning FG ending the 3-peat. I love nostalgia, now back to the 2011 season.

Did anybody notice that Jacobs did not even see the field in the 2nd half. Bradshaw ran tough, if not very effectively and caught a nice pass down the sideline. After the Giants recovered the fumble in OT, Bradshaw made some nice runs to make the kick easy instead of a long nail-biter like the one in Green bay 4 years ago.

Giants first two Super Bowls were four years apart, in 1986 and 1990. They won last in 2007 and it is now 4 year later in 2011. I'm just saying. Giants beat the number one and number two NFC seed in 2007 to get to the Super Bowl and have done the same this year. Again, I'm just saying. Lots of other similarities, but let's leave it at that for now.

The coverage by the Giants CBs against the 49ers WRs was excellent. I am not forgetting the bad/blown coverage on the two Vernon Davis TDs, but that turned out to be errors by the safeties and one (IMO) formation problem. Nevertheless, the coverage on the WRs was excellent. Giants have to put on their defensive thinking caps to figure out how to handle the Patriots very talented TEs.

I watched the Patriots-Ravens AFC conference championship game replay on NFL Network tonight and Patriots defense looked average. Not terrible, which is a step up from where they have played this year, but not unbeatable either.

Giants OL had it taken to them in the 2nd half against the 49ers. They need to play much better against the Patriots, who don't have the depth and quality at DL that the 49ers do. Vince Woolfork is still in the middle of the Patriots 3-4 defense but is not quite the dominant run stopper he used to be. Giants blocking by the TE position against he 49ers was average and against a 3-4 it needs to be really sharp, especially with athletic LBs which the 49ers have. There was a phantom holding call against Baas which set the Giants deep in their own territory. The delay of game call on the Giants at the end, when they had two timeouts left was inexcusable.

On the 49ers first possession of the 2nd half,  the Giants had them in a 3rd and 21. They had good coverage and forced Smith out of the pocket but Aaron Ross was called for an illegal contact penalty. It was a terrible call, Ross reached out and pushed the WR within 5 yards, not beyond it, so it was a legal push. Giants stopped the 49ers on that possession, so you could say it didn't really hurt the Giants, but remember that football is all about field position. 49ers got a first down because of that penalty, then gained another 20 yards before they were stopped on 4th down. This means that instead of punting from their own 28 they punted from the Giants 49 and with a good punt pinned the Giants down on their own 7. When Giants punted back, the 49ers got a good return and had the ball out near midfield again and scored on this drive on the second TD pass to Vernon Davis. Field position is king in football.

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