Monday, January 23, 2012

Giants: NFC CHAMPS !!!

Some game - The defenses were clearly dominant, but IMO, the weather had a lot to do with the offenses not producing and particularly hurting the Giants. Nobody was whining about it and the field did not look muddy, but it was slick, especially in the 2nd half and particularly outside the numbers. You could see often that WRs were slipping when they tried to cut outside. This hurts the Giants - some of Eli's best throws are his out routes, his back shoulder fades on the sidelines and these were taken out of his arsenal. As a result everything had to be thrown in the middle of the field, between the numbers, where the 49ers active safeties were roaming, where their fast LBs were taking their drops and it was very crowded.

That having been said, the 49ers defense was very impressive. Their DL in the 2nd half particularly was taking it to the Giants OL. But there have been a few games this year where other defenses stopped the Giants offense, largely on the strength of a dominant DL performance. i am thinking of the home Eagles and Redskins game, where the Giants OL just couldn't block anybody. but I have not seen a game where the Giants WRs were covered so effectively by an opposing DB-field. The Jets did a good job, but that was mostly Revis; Cruz did in fact get free for a big play in that game, as you might remember. But aside from Revis, Giants WRs have had a great year and have been getting open for Manning all year. Not Sunday. 49ers DBs were all over them.

BTW - that play by Cruz will go down in NY Football lore, regardless of what happens in the Super Bowl, as one of the most pivotal plays in any season at any time. it will go down there with Bavaro dragging the entire 49er secondary for 15 yards on a Monday night football game during the 1986 season. In case you don't remember, or weren't alive at the time, 49ers led by Montana were all over the Giants and were up 17-0 at halftime. Simms hit Bavaro on a short pass and he would not be brought down. It inspired the entire team to stay with it, not give up and the Giants won 21-17. The 99 yard catch by Cruz turned around the Jets game, propelled the Giants into the playoffs and took the Jets out.

Jacquian Williams is going to be a star in the league when he gets a little more experience. his physical gifts are enormous. He made the big strip to force the fumble that won the game because of his speed and strength.The kick returner thought that he had eluded Williams and he was past him and he was not anticipating a hit. But Williams accelerated, reached out with his long arm and punched the ball out. The returner did not clamp down on the ball and secure it because he did not see it coming. Williams also showed great speed in pass defense earlier in the game. He knocked down a pass and showed great closing speed to get there. He was running like a CB.

Chase Blackburn played a good game also from the LB position. He is not the most talented athlete and got knocked around in the running game on a few plays. But, even though he is not the fastest, he made some real good drops in the passing game and also got his hands on a pass intended for Vernon Davis.

Giants gave up two long plays to Davis, mostly on blown coverages by the Giants. Other than those plays, 49ers had little offense. They ran the ball fairly well, gaining 150 yards on the ground. But nowadays, that does not win football games. You have to pass it.

Eli played a great game, this time showing how tough he is by taking hit after hit, hanging in there and throwing for 300+ yards. He is as good as any QB in football. Rodgers and Brees may run a little better, but Eli can make every throw on the football field and putting it in a somewhat convoluted way for comparison purposes: there is no throw that Rodgers can make that Eli can't. Trent Dilfer on ESPN today said it like this: Comparing Eli and Brady, the latter has a much more accomplished body of work, he has been in the league longer, won more playoff games, more Super Bowls and more games. But there is no QB in the league playing better than Eli is right now.

You have to hope Nicks recovers from his shoulder ding. He looked somewhat compromised to me in the later part of the game, even though he was out there. The extra week off should help.

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