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Cruz, Giants Fall To Seahawks, 36-25










The bubble had to burst some time for the New York Giants.  Everything had gone the NYG way for three straight weeks and it was about time that something went wrong.  In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks something went wrong.  Down by four, with just over a minute on the clock the Giants were knocking on the doorstep inside the ten yard line when Eli Manning threw a pass intended for Victor Cruz.  Cruz slipped in his route, but managed to tip the ball.  Unfortunately for the Giants the ball ended up in the hands of Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner who returned it for a touchdown and sealed the Seahawks victory, 36-25.

Prior to that play everything was going New York’s way.  For the second straight week the Giants played terribly but managed to keep the game close up until the final seconds.  The defense was shredded by Seattle’s short to intermediate passing game early and the Seahawks held a huge yardage advantage for most of the game.  Marshawn Lynch also sprinkled in a few big runs for Seattle, but the Giants defense was able to pick up a few of the red zone takeaways which have become their trademark.  The NYG red zone defense was a huge part of their wins at Philadelphia and Arizona and was once again a bright spot in the loss to Seattle.

The defense did step up at times sacking Seattle six times and forcing three turnovers while knocking starting quarterback Tavaris Jackson out of the game.  A mental lapse was ultimately the NYG defenses’ undoing when Osi Umenyoria jumped offside and with a  free play Seattle backup QB Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst hit an uncovered Doug Baldwin for an easy late touchdown.

 The NYG offense was not much better and relied heavily on big plays in the passing game to stay alive.  The Giants got nothing going on the ground for most of the day with Brandon Jacobs out and Ahmad Bradshaw racking up only 58 yards.  In the first half the Giants scored on a tremendous diving catch by Hakeem Nicks, but he was covered very well by Seattle for most of the game and was a relative non-factor in the second half.  Tight end Jake Ballard also enjoyed a miniature break out with 72 yards and a touchdown including some very timely catches.  Ballard could be emerging as a safety net for Eli Manning in big situations, a refreshing sight after the offseason loss of Kevin Boss to the Oakland Raiders.

The true breakout player on the Giants offense this season has been Cruz, but the young receiver is quickly becoming a polarizing figure in New York.  Cruz made one of the most spectacular plays that you will ever see in the fourth quarter of today’s game.  Manning threw the ball to Cruz in double coverage, but after the ball was tipped by a Seattle defender, Cruz tipped it to himself and made a spectacular one handed catch which he proceeded to run all the way 68 yards for a score.  On the very next possession with the Giants deep in their own territory Cruz lost a costly fumble while trying to extend a play.

Cruz has made some amazing catches for the Giants over the past three weeks, but he almost cost them the game last week in Arizona and his slip today was ultimately the reason for the Giants loss.  He is still a very young player and an electrifying talent, but Cruz has been thrust into a pivotal role for the NYG this season and he needs to be more consistent.

Consistency is also lacking on the offensive line right now for the Giants, but that has come due to injury.  Lineman Jim Cordle, just signed off the practice squad this week, was thrust into action late in the fourth quarter when Pro Bowl right guard Chris Snee was forced from the game with injury.  Center David Baas was also missing from the starting lineup with a neck injury and the Giants suffered from subpar line play all game.

Many critics are calling this a typical trap game for the Giants, and it is true that there seemed to be intensity lacking from the NYG on Sunday.  More so the loss seems to be a result of the Giants poor play catching up with them.  You can’t rely on big plays and fourth quarter comebacks forever.  You can’t have horrible percentages on third down every week and expect to win consistently.  The Giants have proven that many analysts and critics wrote them off too soon.  They have proven that they are still a good football team despite being plagued by injuries.  Now New York needs to become more consistent and get fired up early in games.  The need to break the trend of playing down to opponents and start playing with a sense of urgency in the first, second, and third quarters.  Tom Coughlin needs to use this game as a teaching moment to make sure his team doesn’t suffer anymore of these let downs.  As a Giants fan I’m disappointed with how this game turned out, but I’m even more anxious to see how the NYG respond next week against a tough Bills team.

 (follow Matt Canvisser on Twitter @mattcanv)


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