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Wild Wild West: NYG Escape The Desert With A Win

Osi kolb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before this week’s game between the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals I had my doubts about how the Giants would perform.  I was worried that there may be a hangover after last week’s huge win in Philadelphia.  The NYG played so mistake-free, almost perfectly, against the Eagles and I had a feeling that this week would be the complete opposite.  I was also nervous about the Giants’ historic nature of playing down to the level of lesser opponents, and the tendency of east coast teams to perform poorly on west coast road trips.  Despite all of these fears actually being realized today, the Giants were somehow able to come away with a victory, 31-27, despite a little controversy which I’ll discuss at the end of this article.

The Giants offense started off slow and was unable to get anything going early in the run or pass games.  Arizona meanwhile was able to move the ball, but the Giants red zone defense stepped up tremendously for the second consecutive week and held them to two early field goals.  The impact of the NYG red zone defense cannot be overstated; it’s the main reason why they are 3-1 and not 1-3.

Eli Manning & Co. were then able to put together a nice TD drive by forcing the ball to Hakeem Nicks and pounding it with Ahmad Bradshaw.  Bradshaw was effective in critical third down and short yardage situations on the drive and then finished it off with a  touchdown on a well-blocked 13 yard scamper to put New York up, 7-6.

The NYG got the ball back quickly after a big Dave Tollefson sack stalled the Cardinals offense.  Tollefson had two sacks in the game and really stepped up for a Giants defensive line that was missing its best player in Justin Tuck.  The Giants defensive did get Osi Umenyoira back from injury and he made an instant impact with two sacks of his own, including one of his patented strip-sacks.  The Giants were later able to add Lawrence Tynes field goal before the half making the score, 10-6.

The Cardinals came out of halftime and quickly moved down the field with a Kevin Kolb bomb to Larry Fitzgerald where he snatched the ball away from Giants safety Deon Grant.  The Cards then punched the ball in the end zone on a one yard run by Beanie Wells to regain the lead.

A little later in the quarter Giants center David Baas needed to be replaced by Kevin Boothe due to injury.  On Boothe’s first play he allowed Cardinals rookie DT David Carter to blow past him and force a Manning fumble which was recovered by Arizona.  They took advantage with another Beanie Wells one yard touchdown run and led, 20-10, at the start of the fourth quarter.

Manning led the Giants back at the start of the fourth converting big third down completions to Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham before hitting tight end Jake Ballard on a touchdown off a play-action fake.  The play was reviewed, like all scoring plays in the NFL from now on, and the call was reversed.  The ball was placed on the one yard line because Ballard’s knee was down, but Brandon Jacobs powered in on the next play to cut the Arizona lead to three points.

The Cardinals responded by feeding their star Fitzgerald who went over 100 yards on the day, and pounding the ball with Wells who rushed for 138 and his third TD on the drive.  The Giants defense had no answer for Wells, one week after not being able to stop Philadelphia’s Shady McCoy.  It’s clear that the team is missing middle linebacker Jonathan Goff as a run stuffing presence at the core of the defense.

With the defense struggling to stop the Arizona playmakers, Manning answered the call hitting Nicks and Cruz on big pass plays to get down to the three yard line.  There the Giants tried play-action again and this time Eli hit Ballard in the back of the end zone for an impressive, athletic touchdown catch to cut the lead to three.

The FOX announcing team, mainly Tony Siragusa, wondered why the Giants didn’t try an onside kick following the touchdown, but that would have been an ill-advised move with three minutes on the clock and two timeouts.  The Giants kicked the ball away and quickly forced the Cardinals to go three and out.  A nice punt return by Aaron Ross set up the NYG with the ball at midfield.

On the Giants possession, Eli hit Cruz for a 20 yard reception to get down to the 30 yard line.  Cruz broke one tackle and continued to juke, but slipped stayed down for about two seconds and then dropped the ball and got up.  The officials ruled that Cruz gave himself up, so despite not being touched he was ruled down. He was never touched so Arizona attempted to challenge and say that the play was a fumble, but it was not a reviewable play. 

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the call, but Cruz was clearly trying to give himself up or he wouldn’t have dropped the ball.  The rules state that he is allowed to do so without being touched so the referees technically made the right call.  Some may not agree with the rule, but that’s a different argument altogether. 

Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for a 29 yard touchdown down the left sideline on the very next play and the Giants miraculously took the lead after being down by 10 with five minutes in the game.

Arizona had two and a half minutes to answer, and two timeouts at their disposal after losing a challenge earlier.  They managed to get one first down and move the ball to their own 41 yard line.  Then on the ensuing first down Jason Pierre-Paul batted down a screen pass intended for Wells at the line of scrimmage.  On second down Kolb was sacked by Osi for a loss of 10 yards, but on third he completed a pass to Todd Heap to set up a fourth and two.  In the most critical situation of the game the Cardinals looked for their best player, Fitzgerald, but the pass was broken up by Corey Webster and New York emerged from the desert with a victory.

In typical fashion, the NYG played down to their opponents all game before pulling out a miracle win in the end.  Eli usually plays his best football in the fourth quarter, but he was aided greatly by excellent protection and receiver play at the end of today’s game.  The offensive line deserves a lot of credit for the win, despite some uncharacteristic penalties.  The defensive line also stepped up in the absence of their leader Tuck and generated a lot of pressure despite a few frustrating three-man rush calls by defensive coordinator Perry Fewell early in the game.  The Giants now return home for four weeks (three home games and a bye) with a share of the NFC East lead and a great comeback in the win column.

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Comments

Nice job!! It's nice to see you back writing. I believe your analysis is spot on.

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