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Monday, December 22, 2008

New York Giants 34 Carolina Panthers 28

Ward and Boss, the TWO keys to the Ultimatenygame

This was as gutty a performance as I have seen from this team since the Redskins W3 2007. The similarities were many- 2 consecutive losses, lots of doubters, a double digit deficit. When the Giants defense was getting manhandled early, giving up 3 TDs on the first 3 drives, down 21-10, there was no realistic way we were going to win this game. That this team came back from that proved so many things to us. But most importantly, the victory proved so much to themselves. It reminded them of what they have done this year in winning 11 games prior. It reminded them of what they have done last year, when they could come from behind and win despite so much adversity.

Victory tonight was icing on the cake. That the Giants somehow managed to tie the game was a mini-miracle. There were so many positives that were going to come from this game, and the recap was going to take that angle, the Patriots Week 17 Angle, where that loss was a BIG POSITIVE. If Kasay hits the FG, there is still a lot to be positive about. That the kick misses and the Giants go on to win in OT may very well be the luck needed to make this team go all the way. Wins like this galvanize a team. The Giants may have to play this team again, but they will not be afraid. They took this team's best punch, got knocked down, got back up and were the last team standing. The Giants got the confidence back that they lost when Burress was removed from the roster, and they are learning to how to win with who is left. Barber, Strahan, Umenyiora, Shockey, Burress? How many daggers do you put in this team? It keeps coming. The Giants have faced NINE consecutive teams with winning records, a combined 82-51-2. Every team took their best shot. The Giants are 12-3, they have the all-important bye to heal up, they have homefield through the playoffs. And they have the resolve and the resiliency of a team that is capable of anything they believe in.

THE POSITIVES WERE MANY:
1) The offense is back. Wonder talked about the Giants offense getting into a new rhythm now that Burress is no longer there. They did exactly that. They stayed with the run. But they were able to do so because, unlike in Dallas, down and distance was manageable enough. Manning held the ball less, threw into shorter routes, and this way there were not the countless debilitating sacks that caused horrendous 2nd and 3rd downs.

2) Eli Manning found his wind legs. He managed the wind, threw shorter passes, stepped into the passes, and threw the ball a little lower on shorter routes to keep the ball from sailing. This was important, dare we say vital, for Manning's confidence. And once again he led his team down the field to score near the end of Q4, got the 2 pt conversion pass to Hixon (what a play fake, we were sold on the ball being handed off to Jacobs along with all of the Panthers!) to tie the game, and then led them again in OT. Everyone knows that Manning is capable of anything at the end of a game. His confidence after the game was obvious: "You never know what the weather is going to be like here. We're used to playing in those cold and windy games and I would like to think we would have the advantage in some of those. I think it will be fun playing the games at home."

3) Derrick Ward, Brandon Jacobs and the offensive line were excellent in the running game. Gilbride gets credit for not giving up on the run. How do we begin to discuss the superlatives of Derrick Ward, who gashed this team time and time again, amassing 215 yards from scrimmage as the backup?!!

4) Gilbride found his Tight End! Kevin Boss lives. In my humble opinion, this was the real key to the game. In order for Ward to run his highlight film in Q4 and OT, there HAS TO BE BOSS first, moving the chains. It is the middle of Q3, 21-13 Panthers. The Giants have the ball at their own 16 yard line. When the Giants get into a 3rd and 10 after a 5 yard penalty, and Madden is sentencing the Giants offense to death (now that Burress is gone), we are yelling for Bossssss! And to Boss it went! And on the exact type of play that Witten and Garrett killed us on last week that we needed so desperately! One game late, but good enough to save us! Boss makes his chip block, then after the delay on the right side of the line, runs out across the middle to the left, catches a 5 yarder and runs for daylight, 11 yards, and the first down. Small ball, but an important first down. You need those types of plays to keep the rhythm, because how else can you keep going to the run? The Giants controled the ball for 8:36. 5 first downs. Ward with a big 22 yarder. And when it was 3rd and Goal from the 3, who was there to clean up and convert? Kevin Boss in the end zone. So many key plays.

Boss must become the 1986 Mark Bavaro of this offense. In 1986, the Giants WRs were nothing spectacular. Indeed, guys like Lionel Manuel, Bobby Johnson and Stacy Robinson couldn't shine shoes for most teams. How on earth did the '86 team keep the pressure off the loaded box? How did they move the chains? The answer was Bavaro, who LED THE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS IN RECEIVING YARDS THAT SEASON. That is your blueprint for success, that is the rhythm they found. Everytime the Giants were in a big spot, Boss was the answer. Your TE can get you big plays all over the field, but especially in the red zone, and especially on third down. Let's remember, who was the player that awoke the Giants offense at the beginning of Q4 vs the Patriots in the Super Bowl? Kevin Boss for 45 yards. USE THAT TIGHT END to get you a fresh set of downs so that you can have that patience in the running game.

5) I admit to being wrong about Jacobs. The Giants need the moose more than I thought. He has that attitude necessary to impose your will on an opposing team. While I still want #44 to get lots of touches, 3rd down and red zone, it is apparent more than ever how the battering of Jacobs sets up Ward on the change of speed.

6) Gilbride made the adjustments. Even when the Giants tried a RB flare which did not work, it was fine, it was stretching the LBers. The gmen used the quick slants, the draws out of the shotgun, the TE delayed pass, mixing it up enough to allow the running game to keep going, pounding away at them.

7) Webster was once again excellent. He covered Smith most of the game, but Smith only had 3 catches for 47 yards, and on 35 of them it was a zone coverage (and more accurately, a failed blitz pass rush) that got beat, not Webster.

The Negatives:
1) Still no pass rush. We'll be generous and put some of that on Tuck's leg, vomit and the flu. Without Tuck (who was valiant in effort) making an impact, you have to figure the DL becomes very average very quickly. Tuck and Robbins need two weeks off now to rest for Jan 10-11. Kiwi needs to watch tape of how Strahan does not try to overpower linemen on run defense, he sheds them.

2) To say our linebackers are mediocre is a compliment. Without Tuck and the DL at full strength, these sack of potatoes were victimized constantly. Spags gave them more help in the second half and it stemmed some of the bleeding. My kingdom for a LBer #1 in the draft. And #2 also.

3) Diehl has regressed. Is he playing hurt, or tired? If it is either, get him some rest, because he is not playing the edge nearly as well as he was playing earlier in the season.

4) Pierce is ineffective in coverage beyond a few yards past the line of scrimmage. He simply lacks the speed. On one key 3rd down conversion, a Panther player comes into the middle of the field PRECISELY where Pierce's zone of coverage is, and he still does not make the play. Unacceptable.

Misc:
1) I thought when the Giants won the toss in OT, I would have taken the wind. Manning's reaction to the decision to take the ball almost looked like he agreed. But the team did not blink, and ran it down their throats.

2) To be filed under the category of why you do not bet: Let's say you took Carolina, taking +3 points. There is almost no chance in hell of you losing your bet at any point until the very end of OT. You're up 21-10, still up 21-20, then 28-20 in Q4. The only way you will lose is if by some miracle the Giants get a TD, get the 2 pt conversion, and then somehow win with a 6 pt TD in OT.

16 comments:

Andrew said...

This was the most satisfying win of the season... that Carolina team would have beaten anybody else tonight. They played with balance, passion and Williams was like a super hero... but they weren't playing anybody else. They were playing the New York Giants... and they got out hustled and out hit. For me the two biggest difference making changes to the O were pretty much as you said, Jacobs return and ability to just keep churning out the yards, turning loss of yard run plays into 3-4 yard gains, that is so valuable, it can't be measured in stats. Also, hitting Boss AND hitting OUR steve smith. I put them in the same category because they both can run quick, decisive routes that allow eli to get rid of the ball quickly and move the chains or take it home for six near the goal line. The more we hit them, the more Safeties will have to stay in a little... and the more opponents D's will be afraid of stacking the box with eight men, which kills it for our running game, especially Ward. But with Jacobs taking the hard hits and pounding the short yards and eli keeping the Carolina D honest with those quick little passes to the likes of Boss, Smith and even Hedgecock, Ward was able to find running lanes all over the place. But this brings me to an interesting point... what if Bradshaw had been in on that first big run in OT, with the same playcall... I can guarantee you it would have been six then and there. Now I don't wanna discredit Ward, he is awesome and he played INCREDIBLY tonight... BUT, 44 didn't touch the ball ONCE on offense... and isn't that a mistake. This kid is a playmaker and if we have teams on their back heel, throwing in some Bradshaw could really spice things up. Also... I would still like to see more passes to Smith. This guy is our Wes Welker, we need to treat him as such. Now granted, he's not quite as good after the catch as wes, but he's ten times as physical, so he's almost like a cross between Welker and the other Steve Smith. The only thing Smith is missing is the homerun threat, but I think he could get there, he's still young and I think he has the physical tools. This guy is gonna be our future number two receiver and he will be among the best in the league. I wanna see some plays that really grind the other teams expectations. Throw Jacobs and hedgecock in the backfield with two TE's and Steve Smith in the slot... play action with Jacobs and then hit Smith or Boss on crossing slant routes. Even if that specific play isn't used, and it probably won't be, I'd love to see some more plays that pray on keeping teams from having any idea what on earth our talent-rich team will do next.
Finally, I just want to say that he almost lost this game and deserved to... until that play action pass for 2 to Hixon, I didn't think we were the better team tonight. The playoffs will be hard, and if we do meet Carolina again in the NFC championship, we're gonna have to make a lotta changes to beat em. First of all, we NEED to get pressure on delhomme, especially because when he's pressured, this guy falls like a house of cards (like eli circa H2 of '06 season). Second, we need to see Hixon on special teams again, I know that he's starting on O now but we haven't been getting field position like we were before and that IS hurting us. Third, I saw many more plays designed to quickly move the chains tonight but I want MORE. That's how teams win, there's nothing fancy or surprising about it, but you stop defenses from having the time to make plays... you win the game. Lastly, Eli still needs to get his ball down, there were about four floaters in this game that really could have been picked off if they had been tipped differently or the wind had blown them a little more in Carolina's favor... we can't afford this. Eli needs to start hitting receivers low and Steve Smith is the perfect guy for this, as are Manningham and Moss. I actually think that in the playoffs, we should see a lot more Moss. He's a great athlete, has been good when he's gotten a chance this year and most of all... defenses don't know him yet. One of the biggest reasons for our success last year in the playoffs was that we had all these rookies and players nobody really knew (like hixon), making big plays. When D's can't prepare for a guy, it really does effect them. It usually takes 3-5 games worth of tape for opponents to get a handle on someone knew and that is not enough for teams to get used to moss. Plus because next week is basically a freebie game, we could play moss a bunch and people will think it's just to give other players rest. Moss, Bradshaw and Hedgecock could be the Smith, Bradshaw and Boss of last year... and Hixon... well he can only be Hixon again if we let him play ST. This is a super long post, I know, but if you remember my other posts, they've been pretty bombastic as well. Sorry for writing so much on your blog but I follow it week in, week out and I'm more than slightly fanatical about the G-Men.

Andy F. said...

That's okay, this is a sweet win to savor.

Moss wasn't even dressed. I don't remember him being hurt, kind of surprising that he would be out and Manningham in.

I appreciate your remarks about #12. I think the most important thing about this game was that the gameplan was much more understanding of the strengths of these players... less bombs (to the ghost of Burress) and more slants to Hixon and #12. Simms is correct that you must stretch the field, and by that vertically down the field, so the Giants WILL have to keep those safeties honest once in a while. But the best way to go at teams now in the passing game in tough spots is with Boss.

As for #44, you had me at hello. If this guy is healthy enough to return kickoffs, he is healthy enough to be in on 3rd downs, to line up in the slot, to create those mismatches that give the offense greater range and potency. I was so grateful for Gilbride adapting that we'll take it one step at a time. THEY STILL NEED #44 in a much larger role. But at least this offense is getting its rhythm back.

Mitch said...

Andy, you hit on every point and it was very satisfying..obviously.

But, you missed on one very big one. everyone on this blog never even mentioned his name.

His name is Tom Coughlin!!!

This man never wavered in his belief of "his" team. He kept saying all week that his team was 11-3 and playing for the number 1 seed and the ability to stay home. He never lost faith.

Not since Bill Parcells have we had a leader that has his team as prepared for a big game as Coughlin does.

He has his team in the playoffs for 4 seasons in a row. He has won a Super Bowl...and has his team back on track in the best position possible to try to win another.

Congrats Tom on your leadership!

Oxbay said...

I'm so glad I was wrong about my prediction for the game's outcome.

More importantly I'm glad I was wrong about the mettle of the Giants. After the two previous games whatever was wrong seemed to effect the whole team. At some point during the game yesterday they brewed up some new mojo. It's a funny game.

Spags made some nice adjustments at halftime. After not being able to stop the Panthers they limited them to the one TD in the second half. The Giants secondary must have been terrific in pass coverage. Delhomme had time to pass and I don't think the Giants laid a glove on him. Yet he was limited to less than 200 yards.

R.W.? Thanks for recovering your muff.

It will be interesting to see how the Giants play next week's game. They obviously have guys who could use a rest, especially the defensive line. This is where the dearth of depth from injuries and retirement has been most notable. From a dominating pass rush earlier in the season to no pass rush late in the season. It would all be different if more talent was in the rotation.

Last year they played that scintillating game against the Patriots in week 17. They went all out. I doubt if Coughlin will play it the same way this coming Sunday.

Mitch said...

Oh, I almost forgot...

Thank you Jeff Feagles....that punt to the 1 yard line WAS HUGE!

He is a H.O.F. punter.

Motown Blue said...

What a number, 301 rushing yards, that is beyond a domination. The O line overmatched their smaller LBs and interior D line. Jacobs was a big factor against a smaller D which created space and opportunity for a speedier/quicker Ward. Just don't let the media make you believe that he is the sole reason for their revivial.

Gilbrown did much better in the 2nd half with quicker routes, draws, and as Andy mentioned the awakening of The Boss. They need to use him like Witten as he is that good. Although, they need to take advantage of the play action more just like the 2 point conversion to Hixon.

The LBs are putting too much pressure on the 2ndary were liability in coverage and yes Andy we have to draft high for an LB. Robbins needs to get back to his health and form from the beginning of the season to get the pass rush back on track.

Overall, I think they are worn down and these 2 weeks big time. Diehl, Pierce, Robbins, Tuck and Jacobs all need to sit next week.

Finally, why not mix up Hixon in the kickoff/punt return duty. Use him strategically in spots and not all game? You can't leave a weapon like that on the bench. Don't getme started with #44.....get him the ball in open space and we will score 44+ points a game.

Thank you for the early Christmas present Mr. Kasey.....Again as Andy pointed out that may be what puts them on cruise control.

xtian said...

my pts on the huge win:
1. overall, gilbride called a good game by sticking to the run and short passes in this cold windy night game. i was worried when he called 4 passes in a row, but the next series he went back to the script.
2. i have been saying since the beginning of the season that jacobs worth cannot be measured by yards alone. everyone notes he makes ward and bshaw [if he ever is used] better as change of pace, but most importantly he gives the ol and offense mojo and emotion.
3. bshaw still needs to get touches regardless of ward having a great game. [side note: i think 1 reason the giants like to use ward instead of bshaw is he weighs 230 whereas bshaw is 200 and additionally batters the opposing def with jacobs.]
4. both carolina and nyg could have had a couple of interceptions.
5. no pass rush. tuck was sick. kiwi is still learning and probably have a breakthrough season next year, his 3rd, but that does not helps us now. we need other guys to get a sack now and then.
6. use hixon on punt and ko returns dammit at the expense of a couple of offensive snaps.
7. cweb played very well--glad we resigned him--without him we lose.
8. smith is our wes, but he will never be a moss/burress. that is perfectly acceptable too!
9. carolina is a very good team that could beat us, but we will be tougher in the playoffs because last night's game the timing was perfect for carolina--they were on a roll and we at our lowest ebb--not us.
10. you know that parcells would have taken the wind in ot, but this giants team is more offensively focused than any of parcells teams. plus we were doing it with the run, not the pass.

bruno said...

Before the game I felt that the Giants had to either connect on flairs to the RB or get the ball to Boss. The kicking game helped a lot, AN LOT. Feagles kick to the 1 yrd line. The D played great when they had too.

Steve said...

@Xtian - regarding your point #5. When Oci comes back next year, I suspect Kiwi will move back to linebacker so he can be on the field full time.

Motown Blue said...

http://www.wfan.com/topic/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=3229583

Carl "killer" Banks again. Be patient or ff through the Jets, other than Wonder. Although he has a sharp analysis of what's wrong with the Jets and Mangini for football fans.

Killer points out the D was in "bend but don't break" mode all game as they were concerned with Smith's game braking abilities. Different strategies employed by both team, Gs were grinders and Carolina wanted a fast pace big play game. The problem was they failed to execute properly on a few bigger plays (i.e. the Ross missed INT).

Like this blog he points out the effectiveness and importance of Boss. Get the O in rythym.

I'll let Andy break it down...worlds better than any of us.

Bob said...

Yesterdays game was simply awesome, almost as good as the NFC championship last year and the Super Bowl.

I just hope that Coughlin is wise enough to rest all the wounded & let the subs play against Minn.

Give Tuck, Jacobs, Hixon, Diehl, Ross, and especially Fred Robbins a chance to heal for the tough playoffs ahead.

xtian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xtian said...

you're right, steve, with osi back kiwi could be moved back to slb and flex a lot to rush the qb. the gmen will be much better off having 3 superior pass rushers.

Crazed Giant fan said...

Even though we ran for 301 yards, you have to remember that Carolina was without their #1 run stuffer. It is still an impressive number, but if he is in, I doubt we do the same. It is apparent Gilbride made adjustments. As did Manning. But there were still many mistakes made on Offense and Manning is very fortunate not too have been picked off. One thing Manning has to change is the high hard fast ball to Hixon. Plax makes that catch routinely. Hixon gives up the deflection. Very dangerous. Manning tends to miss high, just something to work on. I can only wonder why the Giants don't use Bradshaw, but I suspect it has to do with ball security. Lets face it, neither team turned over the ball and that is rule #1 of championship caliber football. Don't beat yourself. When teams are so evenly matched, the littlest mistake can profoundly change the game. One more thing we have to do in the playoffs is get deeper higher Kickoffs. The average starting field position of our opponents is dreadful. I wonder if Andy can give us the appropriate statistic.
And finally, is there anyone out there on this blog who doesn't expect Dallas to get the sixth seed and if so, they get a road game in Minnesota which in my opinion is very winnable. And then it is divisional playoff in Giants stadium. What unbelievable irony.

Andy F. said...

Click here for Kickoff Stats

How right you are, Crazed Giant fan. The giants are #32 in kickoff length and #31 in the league in NET yards. Sounds like you activate Tynes for the playoffs along w Carney. Like I said, I would not have given the Pro Bowl nod to Carney, he does not boot it long enough.

And your scenario for us playing the Cowboys is exactly what Wonder is looking for too.

Steve said...

Tynes? think back. Have you ever seen him put it in the endzone for a touchback? His KO's come down at the 5, Carneys at the 8. seriously, save the roster spot for someone else and stick with Carney for the KO's. Tynes is not the answer.

I re-watched the panther game last night and saw a lot of missed tackles on some of those KO's where they started at the 35. Lots of chances to stop guys inside the 30 were missed sunday

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