By Aaron Weiss
The New York Giants played their most complete game of the season, working surprisingly well on all facets of the game to beat the Eagles 28-23! Let’s break down the game and look towards week 10!
Eli Manning – Manning did throw two picks in the game, but in both circumstances it was due to lucky chance, and not poor judgement on Manning’s part (one was a tipped pass, and the other was a weird drop/fumble that turned into a pick via Odell Beckham). Eli completed 61% of his passes, only got sacked once, and threw for four touchdowns. Especially early in the game, with the help of some defensive turnovers, Manning seemed to be on fire, spreading the ball to 8 different players using what appeared to be far more creative play calls on the part of Ben McAdoo. Manning scored a touchdown on the Giants only red zone appearance, and had a 96.6 rating on the day. Had he maintained the momentum of the first half he could’ve had a truly great day, but all in all it was still refreshing to see an offensive unit look good.
The Defense – Somewhere Jerry Reese is patting himself on the back. Yet again the defense triumphed, recording two sacks, four tackles for loss, seven passes defended, six QB hits and two picks. The Eagles never got anything going on the ground game, gaining 96 yards on 25 attempts, and Carson Wentz only completed 57% of his passes. The Eagles only scored touchdowns twice on six red zone appearances, and they only went 3-15 on third down. Perhaps most notably for this game, the Giants held the Eagles to 1-4 on fourth down, as Eagles’ Coach Doug Pederson was incredibly aggressive throughout the day. The Giants also only recorded 5 penalties, another good showing for a mistake prone team. The only “mistakes” made by the defense were a few mistakes on some long throws, giving up passes of 58 yards, 33 yards, 32 yards, and 30 yards. Still, with the secondary not entirely healthy, and with the Giants impeccable in short yardage situations, this is mostly forgivable. The Giants are currently the 12th ranked defense in the league, up from last place just last year, so credit Steve Spagnuolo, Jerry Reese, and this new and improved defense.
The Rushing Game – When praising the Giants Defense I lauded them for holding the Eagles to 96 yards on 25 attempts. The Giants ran for 54 yards on 24 attempts. Another week, and another dismal showing, although there were a few bright spots as rookie Paul Perkins flashed potential. The Giants rank dead last in the league in total rushing yards, last in yards per game, 29th in yards per rush, 29th in longest rush, and T-23rd for rushing touchdowns. The only consolation is that the Giants are also one of the best teams as it relates to ball security, with only 1 rushing fumble. Nonetheless, the New York Giants are entirely one dimensional on offense, and that isn’t likely to change going forward.
3rd Down Efficiency – Compared to previous games there wasn’t that much to criticize, but the Giants once again were ineffective on third down, going 4-13 on the day. They also went 0-1 on fourth down, with Eli throwing one of his two picks. This is primarily due to the fact that the Giants cannot run the ball, as mentioned earlier, allowing teams to only put three or four players in the box. This is another facet of the Giants’ stat sheet that isn’t likely to change, but eventually the Giants will need to improve their third down offense if they want to contend.
Dwayne Harris – There wasn’t much that was ugly in this game. The most obvious was Dwayne Harris, who went a measly 30 yards on two kick returns and 10 yards on one punt return. The Giants special teams gave him no room the run on returns, and it led to some less than ideal field positioning. Brad Wing also shanked a punt late in the game that set up a potential game winning drive for the Eagles, but the excellent blocked FG gets the special teams unit off the hook for the week.
End of Game – To the surprise of no one, the Giants had to stress everyone out by giving the Eagles hope near the end of the game. After being up 14-0 to start the game, and 28-17 late in the third quarter, the Giants either threw picks or punted on their last four drives (excluding the victory formation at the end of the game), with a 4 play, 1:28 minute drive that ended in a punt, a 5 play 1:53 minute that ended in a pick, a 3 play, 1:31 minute drive that ended in a punt, and a 5 play, 2:03 minute drive that ended in a pick. Fortunately for the Giants the Eagles failed to score on either pick, and only notched field goals after each of the punts, but the Giants offense seems incapable of managing the clock when they need to.
Injury Report – The Giants were hit with a few key injuries, losing WR Victor Cruz to a sprained ankle and LG Justin Pugh to a sprained knee. Considering Cruz’s injury history and the way Pugh was hurt the Giants are incredibly fortunate that these injuries aren’t incredibly worse. Still, these two will be monitored closely and will most likely be day to day over the upcoming week. If Cruz isn’t healthy for next week he can be replaced by Sterling Shepard or the unexpectedly pleasant Roger Lewis. Pugh is one of the best guards in the league, and it’d be hard to find an adequate replacement if he misses time, but most likely he’d be replaced by Brett Jones. Additionally, rookie safety Darian Thompson will continue to be monitored after having missed the past 6 games.
NFC East Standings – Dallas thrashed the Cleveland Browns this week, and Washington was on their bye week, meaning that the Giants have slid into 2nd place with a 5-3 record. Dallas is at the top with a 7-1 record, Washington is in 3rd at 4-3-1, and Philly is in last at 4-4. The NFC East is still the only division without a team with a losing record. The Giants also current project to own the 1st wildcard spot in the NFC.
Next Week – The Giants have a long week ahead, playing on Monday night at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, currently 3-4-1, will be coming off of their bye week, having most recently tied with the Washington Redskins 27-27. While the Bengals have talented players in their backfield, I don’t expect this relentless Giants run defense to allow the Bengals much leeway. This will lead to the inevitable battle between the Giants pass defense and the inhuman AJ Green. If the Giants can win that battle they can win the game, but I’m not too confident.
Prediction – Cincinnati wins 31-27