Tony Kurdzuk/The StarLedgerIt's no surprise there have been down days for Eli Manning, Mario Manningham and the rest of the Giants' passing game, as they were bound to experience growing pains.
Real quickly, I like to take you back to something I said over and over heading into this season. The only print evidence I have is right here in an entry from training camp.
for the receivers, I've said this from the jump and I'm still convinced this is going to be the case: they're going to be maddeningly inconsistent, I wrote. are going to be times when they'll look like world beaters, and there will be times where they won't be able to convert a first down. I mean, that's the way the quarterback has been throughout his career and now he has a bunch of younger guys learning on the fly. There are going to be growing pains, no doubt about it. 15: World Beaters.
CB Corey Webster. Not sure if a lot of you noticed, but he did a heckuva job against Cards WR Larry Fitzgerald. And he even had a pass defensed after peeling off Fitzgerald to knock away a ball intended for WR Steve Breaston up the field. To cover Fitzgerald well is one thing; to cover him and still pay attention to another guy is quite another. Good job by the Cardinals of getting Fitzgerald away from Webster as the game wore on by motioning him and moving him around the formation. More on Webster in the final section.
LB Danny Clark. He didn play much because the Cardinals forced the Giants into nickel and dime packages for much of the game, but he was still able to record his first sack since 2005, which came against the late Steve McNair. Long time coming there for Clark.
WR Hakeem Nicks. My editor has him on his fantasy team and he told me, not for the tipped ball, he would have done practically nothing. My response: can you take away a headsup play by a rookie who just scored in his fourth straight game? Answer: you can't.
RB Brandon Jacobs. Feed the beast. And do it more often, starting next week against the Eagles.
DEs Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. That should have been a tonesetting forced fumble by Tuck to start an easy Giants rout. He and Kiwanuka combined for four tackles for a loss. They have a combined 16 on the season.
TE Kevin Boss. What an incredible catch while getting his clock cleaned by S Antrel Rolle. Though that was an illegal hit on Boss. Still, a big interception to seal the game gets him a game ball.
Arizona RB Beanie Nate Solder Black Jersey Wells. He ran like he was mad at the world or maybe just the defense. And I was impressed with the way he was able to run consistently despite getting a handoff only here and there. Tough to get in a rhythm when you're used sparingly.
Cardinals DT Alan Branch. No sacks through twoplus seasons for the former secondround pick and then two in one night.
Cards S Adrian Wilson. He could play for me any day.
Arizona WR Anquan Boldin. He was playing on an injured ankle in his first game in the place where he got knocked out by Jets S Eric Smith. Brown.
Cards CB Dominique RodgersCromartie. He's too much of a gambler for me to put him at the top of my list of the best corners in the league, but he's pretty darn good and he played a great game Sunday night.
P Jeff Feagles. He said he only had one mishit and the others were just bad angles. try to kick the ball out of bounds every time and that what Tom (Coughlin) wants, he said. me to have short ones like that, that my fault. I have to cut down my angles and try to get a little more distance on them. It puts the defense in a bad situation, giving them a short field like that. We go back and work on it. Feagles also pinned some of the blame on the officials. just a matter of the official giving me the spot, he said. sacrifice field position with the out of bounds kick because you really putting it in the hands of the officials and it tough (for them to judge where the ball went out). Eli Manning. Not so much for the last interception, but for his entire shaky performance. It didn appear the winds were that bad, but a lot of passes drifted and fluttered. As for the last INT, my first reaction was to criticize him for forcing a ball there, but as I noted in my game story, he had just stuck two into tight spots one to Boss and one to WR Steve Smith plus he been living dangerously and getting away with it late in games since his second season. I can really blame him for thinking he get that ball to Smith before Rolle got there.
WR Mario Manningham. As Coughlin noted Monday, if he catches the ball near the goal line in the fourth quarter, that a touchdown and, all of a sudden, the Giants are driving for a field goal, not a TD, at the end. If that the case, maybe Manning doesn try to squeeze the ball to Smith on Rolle INT. That's now seven drops on the season for Manningham, by my count.
DT Fred Robbins. I deal with all the encroachments if he was getting good penetration on the plays he didn leave early, but he just not the same since undergoing offseason knee surgery. With this being the final season of the sixyear contract he signed in 2004, we might be looking at Robbins final stretch www.patriotsfootballproshop.com/77_nate_solder_jersey_authentic_black_limited_cheap.html with the Giants.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw. The fumble was because of extra effort and Coughlin said he can fault a guy for giving that added effort. Neither can I. But after thinking this one through, I decided a gasser is necessary here because you absolutely have to protect the ball in that spot at that point late in the game.
CB Bruce Johnson. He got off to a terrific start to the season, but he had his growing pains since the second half of the Tampa game and into the win over Kansas City. Sunday night, he didn locate the ball on Boldin 44yard catch up the left sideline. Johnson and/or Kevin Dockery have got to step up and play well until Aaron Ross gets back. Dockery nearly got a gasser here for having a ball glance off his helmet on a punt return. At the last minute, I decided against it.
The officials. It seems like every week I have a handful of issues with these guys. My biggest one is the noncall on Boss. There were also plenty of holds and illegal hands to the face you could see on the replays. As for the guarding on the final drive, just know there is no such thing as face guarding in the NFL, so good noncall there.
I don know where to put CB Terrell Thomas. He had a very nice INT and a couple of other pass breakups, but he also missed the tackle on Wells TD and didn't get deep enough on a ball to Fitzgerald up the deep middle. Plus, I think he has great instincts and I like the way he gets a jump on the quick route and tries to make a play on it by undercutting the route, but I also think he has to realize there a difference between trying to do that on a Kurt WarnertoBoldin connection than on a Matt Casseltowhoever attempt. Boldin got on top of Thomas and Warner put it over his head for an 18yard hookup early on. Long story short: he gets neither a game ball nor a gasser.
The Cardinals showed an 8man front on two of the Giants first three plays, so the Giants hit a couple of quick throws and then Manning tried to hit FB Madison Hedgecock out of the backfield. Basically, they were saying, you going to stack the box, we throw. It not surprising because they thrown the ball on their first offensive play five out of seven games. Plus, their first run last night was out of a threereceiver set, so they tried to throw Arizona offbalance a bit early and I thought they did a good job of that. It what happened afterward that threw their rhythm off.
Pass interference on Webster on a thirdand6 early in the game against Fitzgerald? Yeah, probably. But I not even looking at that; I more focused on (and impressed with) the way Webster wasn even affected by Fitzgerald move off the line. Fitzgerald gave him a sidetoside shimmy with a few jukes and Webster didn budge. He did it again later when That exactly what WR Derek Hagan was talking about when I asked him about Webster for my story on him last Sunday. In the story, Hagan talks about Webster patience, but there was a bit more that got cut for space reasons. Here Hagan full quote: is one of his best attributes. He let a receiver get into his route before he even tries to make a move. Most of the time, we expecting defenders to just jump and lunge at us. He very patient and he able to recognize routes very well. finding room for quotes that got cut because of finite space in the paper. Man, I love the blog.
Back to the action: Did OT William Beatty play a perfect game? Of course not. But did you see the athleticism when he got out into space on Bradshaw 8yard pitch play to the right side on thirdand2 in the first quarter. Cris Collinsworth said it easy for a big ol tackle to pull and get into the open field on RodgersCromartie. But that the thing: he not a ol tackle. He part of the new breed of slimmer, more athletic guys at that spot. And despite his slighter build, he can stand his ground, as evidenced by a few power rushes he took on.
There were a few third downs in the first quarter where the Giants went four wides and Boss wasn on the field. Not sure I agree with that. As evidenced by his fourthquarter catch (where he took a helmettohelmet hit from Rolle that should have been flagged) he makes big catches in big spots. He should be on the field for third downs.
On Jacobs touchdown, Cards LB Gerald Hayes did exactly what he was supposed to do by getting low and he still got trucked. Tough spot there for Hayes because it seems like when Jacobs really wants to run over you, he does no matter the leverage you get.
I be willing to bet the Giants offensive coaches thought they had a big play coming on firstand10 from their own 31yard line with 11:54 left in the second quarter. They had two TEs on the field one of which was Darcy Johnson, who lined up as a wing on the left side and went in motion to the right. When he did, the Cards shifted their entire defensive front to the offensive right, so they had three guys to block two on the left side when they ran Bradshaw on a counter back to that side. Usually, you get Bradshaw in open space like that and he gone. But this time, Wilson came flying up to make the stop. Just one of the reasons I saying that guy could play for me any day.
For those of you who were yelling at your TV last week, begging defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan to blitz more often, take a look at the 13yard pass from Warner to RB Tim Hightower on thirdand10 before the Cards first TD. The Giants brought six rushers (LB Antonio Pierce and S Aaron Rouse) and played five across in coverage. Webster and Brown had Fitzgerald and Hightower on the offensive left, and the Cardinals ran Hightower on an out behind Fitzgerald. You can ignore Fitzgerald, so covering Hightower there is extremely tough. You can ask Webster to slide forward and surrender the sideline to Fitzgerald. Long story short: when you yelling for a blitz against a team with a bunch of receiving threats, remember how easy it is to get burned.
Another thing on that play: the Giants were playing games with their personnel in the dime defense, subbing Rouse for Bruce Johnson sometimes to move S Michael Johnson down low as a pseudoLB in their dime/nickel package. Well, on that play, Rouse and B. Johnson were on the field, so M. Johnson had to run off at the last second to avoid a penalty.
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