By Aaron Weiss
The shorthanded New York Giants eked out their fourth straight win on Monday Night Football, beating the Bengals 21-20! Let’s break down the game and look towards week 11!
To celebrate the Giants 4 game winning streak, we’re scratching the ugly section entirely! The Giants played well enough to make that section moot, and instead we’ll highlight even more good things from the game!
The…Running Game? – 19 teams in the league average over 100 rushing yards a game. The Giants, last in the league in rushing are not one of them. Yet, for the first time since losing Shane Vereen for the season, the Giants ran for over 100 yards. They rushed for a season high 124 yards on 25 attempts (excluding two -1 yard kneels at the end of the game), averaging a sweet 5.2 yards per rush. Granted, 38 of those yards came on the last drive, as the game was basically over, and granted, 49 of those yards came on just two plays, and granted, Cincinnati has the 16th ranked run defense, but considering how putrid this run game has been, and considering the Giants were without star lineman Justin Pugh (plus his backup, Brett Jones, was out for the game after the first drive with a calf injury), we will reward this run game for a respectable showing.
The Defense – This unit somehow keeps getting better week by week. Janoris Jenkins and the secondary held AJ Green to one of his weaker games of the season (and by weak I mean 7 for 68 yards and a touchdown, but considering this is AJ Green that’s pretty great). The Giants collected 3 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, 7 passes defended and 6 QB hits. Andy Dalton was pressured all night, and never got the run support or pass protection to get comfortable (the run game only generated 78 yards). PFF estimates Dalton was pressured on a third of all dropbacks. Landon Collins collected yet another interception, and Olivier Vernon collected a whopping 10 tackles. Barring one blown coverage on Tyler Eifert due to some clever trickery on the Bengals’ part, this defense was incredible all night.
Eli Manning – Without Victor Cruz, Justin Pugh, and Pugh’s replacement Brett Jones, Eli barely missed a step, leading a mostly one dimensional offense to success. He completed 64% of his passes, and threw for three touchdowns. Despite several key drops from the likes of Sterling Shepherd and Will Tye, Eli and the Giants managed to convert 6 of 14 third downs, much better than their efforts in previous weeks. He did throw two picks, one which was an exceptional play by Dre Kirkpatrick, and the other a truly painful pass by Eli, but all in all it was another great showing by Manning, in part due to the man below.
Odell Beckham Jr. – Odell collected ten catches for the first time since his rookie year. He passed 3,500 career yards, becoming the fastest player to reach that mark, beating Lance Alworth by a single game (this was Odell’s 36th game). He also scored his 31st career touchdown, breaking his tie with Antonio Brown for the most touchdowns over that span. It would appear that either the Josh Norman poison pill only lasts 3 to 4 weeks, or Odell has evolved and rounded the corner on his early season woes. It would appear he, the Giants’ and us Giant fans are having fun again.
The Ring of Honor – At halftime the Giants inducted former Head Coach Tom Coughlin, former defensive end Justin Tuck, and former GM Ernie Accorsi, much to everyone’s delight. Here’s a quick recap on the trio, in case anyone forgot:
Accorsi will forever be known for the 2004 Eli Manning Trade, and his sneaking out of a 2007 game where Eli threw four interceptions, but he also hired Coughlin and drafted Tuck. He also drafted Osi Umenyiora, Chris Snee, Brandon Jacobs, Mathias Kiwanuka, and many more, along with signing Antonio Pierce and Plaxico Burress. He brought in almost all of the key pieces for the 2007 championship team and a lot of the pieces of the 2011 squad.
Coughlin has only been removed from coaching one season, having just been replaced by Coach McAdoo, and he may one day get back into coaching. But he’ll be one of the great Giant coaches of all time, leading the team to their two most recent rings, leading the Giants to 5 playoff seasons in twelve total, and a 102-90 record. He’ll be most known for his development as a coach, adapting to his players and transforming from a coach hated by many (a la Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber) to a coach loved by all (a la Michael Strahan and Antrel Rolle). He’ll also be known as the predominant coach for Eli Manning, raising Eli from a rookie to an elite veteran.
Tuck was one of 17 players to be on both of the Giant’s Super Bowl teams. A growing star in 2007 and a premier veteran in 2011, Tuck was a 2-time All-Pro and a 2-time Pro Bowler. He played 127 games as a Giant, 90 as a starter, recording 318 solo tackles, 453 combined tackles, 60.5 sacks, 18 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries, 26 passes deflected, two interceptions, and a touchdown. Tuck was a mentor to several current Giant players, including protege Jason Pierre-Paul.
All in all these three hold varying levels of responsibility for the Giants’ 21st century success, and all three deserve this honor.
Alex Erickson – The Bengals opened up the second half on a way too easy 84 yard kickoff return that led to one of the Bengals’ two touchdowns. Erickson also had two returns of 23 yards apiece. Minus the one big return it wasn’t atrocious, but the special teams was a little porous, and the obvious weak point in an otherwise positive showing.
And that’s it! Considering the Giants outplayed the Bengals as it pertains to time of possession battle, total first downs, red zone efficiency, yards per rush, penalties, third down conversions and total yards, there isn’t much to criticize for a team that seems to be improving weekly.
Injury Report – The Giants lost backup G Brett Jones to a calf injury on the first drive, and WR-KR Dwayne Harris to a toe injury in the 2nd half. It’s unclear the severity of either injury, but losing Jones is most significant, as he was slated to substitute for the injured Justin Pugh, and the Giants are scraping the bottom of the barrel on the offensive line.
NFC East Standings – The entire NFC East won their games this week, meaning that the Giants remain in 2nd place at 6-3. Washington is in 3rd at 5-3-1, Philly is last at 5-4, and the Cowboys won their 8th straight and own the best record in the league, 8-1.
Next Week – The Giants have a short week, but get a favorable home game against the Chicago Bears. While the Bears have the 10th ranked defense, their offense is putrid, and they’re prepared to lose several key players for the immediate future. Alshon Jeffrey has been suspended 4 games for a PED violation, to a 4-game PED suspension. Lineman Bobby Massie and Kyle Long are both injured, Long for the year, And star rookie running back Jordan Howard seems to have injured his Achilles, although the severity is unclear. Additionally, NT Eddie Goldman and DL Will Sutton also are plagued with ankle injuries. This has a not insignificant chance of being a trap game, but I don’t buy it. I think the Giants roll to victory
Prediction – Giants wins 24-10