By John Camera
The New York Giants stayed the course, winning their 8th of the last 9 games. Another dominant defensive performance powered the Giants to a 17-6 victory over the Detroit Lions in the Giants final regular season home game of 2016. Let’s review this past week and look forward to a massive Week 16!
There was a lot of good this week, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But we would be remised if we didn’t start with the Mann himself.
Eli Manning – For anyone who’s been watching the Giants this season, it’s not hyperbole to claim that this has been one of Manning’s worst seasons. Manning hasn’t been particularly putrid but the offense around him has struggled and, unlike what he has done most of his career, he hasn’t been able to lift them up and drag them to 20 point performances very often. And although the offense only put up 17 points against Detroit, Manning was efficient, mistake-free, and put points on the board when his team needed it. His 25-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr. on 3rd and 10 was perhaps his best pass of the season. ODB described it as a “dime.”
Brad Wing – Coach Ben McAdoo has described his punter as a “weapon” and it’s certainly an apt acclamation. Wing, and his special teams gunners, have done a fantastic job of pinning opponents deep inside their own side of the field. Wing punted four times in the 4th quarter and was able to stick three of them inside the Detroit 20-yard line, including two inside the 5-yard line.
Odell Beckham Jr. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. One handed catch? Check. Game-sealing touchdown? Check. A fun touchdown dance? Check. Yawn. Just another day at the office for the most prolific young WR in the NFL today. ODB breaks records every week, and become just the third receiver in history to catch 80+ passes, 1,000+ yards, and 10+ TDs in his first three seasons.Keep in mind he played 12 games in 2014, 15 in 2015, and has two left this season.
Justin Pugh – Pugh returned from a bad knee injury that sidelined him for the past five games and made an impact for the get-go. The Giants’ best lineman cleared the way for 12 rushing yards on the offenses’ first two plays, starting off a perfect first drive that ended with a touchdown. Pugh’s return also seemed to spark Ereck Flowers, who bounced back with a solid outing after a rough first half versus Dallas.
Damon Harrison – “Snacks” gets attention despite not being a pass-rushing DT but it still doesn’t seem to be enough. He is the heart and soul of this defensive line, a dominating front-four that even without JPP continues to own the line of scrimmage. Snacks’ combination of size, speed, and quickness is uncanny and allows him to knife through offensive lineman to blow up running plays before they can start. Like every other free agent this year, Harrison has been worth every penny.
The Giants’ Linebackers – Yes, the ‘backers get some love! A unit infamous for its mediocrity over the years, the rag-tag group played extremely well, tackling efficiently and flying to the ballcarrier. Jon Casillas, Devon Kennard, Kelvin Sheppard, Keenan Robinson, even rookie B.J. Goodson were out there making plays. Goodson in particular, perhaps auditioning for a starting role in 2017, blew up Detroit FB Michael Burton on his way to making a tackle for a minimal gain.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – When Janoris Jenkins went out early in the second quarter (more on that later), pretty much every Giants fan felt like throwing up. DRC, the man who would replace him, was ready to have a “heart attack” with his teammate laying on the ground, in pain. However, DRC didn’t allow the quality of CB play to drop very much. The veteran, who had been replaced on the outside by Jackrabbit and rookie Eli Apple, made 7 tackles and 3 huge pass deflections. His biggest plays though were a touchdown-saving tackle on Golden Tate when DRC recovered after being beat, and then the game-icing, end zone INT. DRC proved his worth once again today and likely will be CB1 for the Giants again in Week 16.
Rashad Jennings – Jennings can still run with power, pass-block well, and exhibits great ball security. However, the veteran RB just isn’t a dynamic runner and rookie Paul Perkins regularly got through holes the offensive line opened up faster than the vet. It’s time for Jennings to take a seat on the bench and allow the young gun to take the reins. The veteran would still be a valuable asset on the goal line and in grind it out situations.
Touchdown-Killing Penalties – The Giants’ had two of these against the Lions and prevented the game from being pretty lopsided. The first occurred on RT Bobby Hart, who was flagged for illegal hands to the face and negated a fumble recovered in the endzone by Victor Cruz, which would’ve been six for NY. The Giants instead settled for a Field Goal to make it 10-3, Giants. With 5 minutes left in the game, NYG leading 17-6, Odell Beckham ran to his left, broke some tackles, then reversed field to his right on his way to a spectacular punt return for a touchdown. Except this too was called back on a penalty by Safety Eric Pinkins, the second time an ODB punt return TD has been nullified.
Janoris Jenkins and Trevin Wade – Unfortunately for the Giants’ All-Pro caliber safety, he couldn’t make it through the game unscathed. Jenkins and Wade both attacked downhill on an out route to Detroit TE Eric Ebron. At the point of attack both defenders collided in the air, with Jenkins receiving a knee to the back. After a scary few minutes, Jenkins was taken to the locker room and went through a battery of tests, the Giants’ taking precautions and holding him out for the rest of the game. Everything came back negative and it seems Jackrabbit lucked out; no internal injury, no spine injury, just a bad back bruise.
Injuries – Besides the aforementioned Janoris Jenkins injury, Shane Vereen was revealed to have re-torn the triceps he injured in Week 3. Vereen can’t catch a break and seems to be headed back to IR.
NFC East Standings – The Eagles, also playing a 1 p.m. game, lost their fifth straight; a one-point heartbreaker to the Baltimore Ravens. They fell to 5-9 and look to play spoiler the rest of the way. The Cowboys silenced any doubters by rebounding at home against the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 26-20. They moved to 12-2 but would need to lose out with the Giants’ winning out for the G-Men to grab the NFC East title. Washington was embarrassed at home by a depleted Carolina team in an uninspiring 26-15 Monday night loss. Washington is now 7-6-1.
Next Week – The Giants head to Philadelphia on a short week to do battle with a tough Eagles team. NY can clinch a playoff berth with a win, their first since 2011. Despite losing five straight, Philly plays every opponent tough and has a defensive front that can wreak havoc on any given night. The setting for this game is a frighteningly familiar one for NY; on the road, prime-time, their down-the-road rivals dressed in all back. The Giants typically you-know-what the bed against Philly in this situation the past few seasons but with the attitude of this team, it won’t be anywhere near that bad. Victor Cruz returns to the spot that both launched and nearly ended his career. But of course, the Giants make it hard on themselves, setting up a do-or-die game in Week 17 in Washington.
Prediction – Eagles win 16-14