Big Blue Breakdown: Week 7 Recap
Well, a win is a win. Even when it takes seven weeks, it’s against a 1-4 team who’s quarterback never started for the team before, and it comes with a completely uninspiring offensive performance, a win is a win. The Giants still aren’t in a very good position to try and accomplish anything this season but what matters right now is that they played hard and came out on top. So what can the team build on after this win? What still needs to be corrected? Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of this week:
- Giants beat Vikings, 23-7
- RB Brandon Jacobs sits out with injury, receives death threats on Twitter
- Former Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera named honorary captain
- C David Baas leaves game with a knee injury
- Eli Manning says the Giants shouldn’t trade Hakeem Nicks
Even though the Giants won this week, they still showed plenty of flaws. The offensive line wasn’t as bad as it has been at times this year, but it still wasn’t very good. Eli Manning found himself under pressure many times and the line failed to consistently open holes in the running game, only allowing the backs to gain 2.0 yards per carry. However, mentioning the line’s struggles is like beating a dead horse at this point as it clearly needs revamping in the offseason.
Special teams were also a problem this week as the team allowed its third touchdown on a punt return as well as a big return on a kickoff. These types of special teams plays can cause huge momentum swings and significant harm to the Giants’ chances of winning games and must be limited if the Giants expect to start winning consistently this year.
A negative that really stood out this week was the inability of Manning and the receivers to get into a rhythm against a poor Minnesota secondary. Larry Donnell slipped and fell over on a play that could’ve gone for a long gain and instead almost resulted in an interception. Hakeem Nicks uncharacteristically dropped several catchable balls throughout the course of the game, including a potential touchdown which was admittedly slightly overthrown. Victor Cruz also dropped a potential touchdown despite perfect ball placement by Manning. Whatever is preventing these talented players from creating chemistry with Eli Manning will have to change fast to get the offense rolling.
For once, the Giants’ positives clearly outweighed the negatives. The defense was absolutely lights-out this week; they allowed no offensive points and held Josh Freeman to a pitiful 20 completions on 53 attempts for 190 yards and an interception. The defensive line managed to sack Freeman once and hit him 13 times, and though they need to work on collecting more actual sacks they did a great job of pressuring him into making bad throws. Trumaine McBride and Antrel Rolle were standouts in the secondary as McBride played well as a starter and Rolle made an outstanding interception among other great plays.
By far the best accomplishment of the defense, however, was shutting down Adrian Peterson. Peterson was held to 28 rushing yards on 13 attempts by a dominant rush defense led by Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul and he was unable to get any sort of rushing attack going for the Vikings. The Giants’ run defense can now add Peterson’s name next to Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles and Lesean McCoy on the list of top backs they’ve been able to shut down this season. The pass rush may be playing below par but they’ve taken things up a notch against the run.
On offense, there were still a few bright spots. Rueben Randle, whose success is usually offset by miscommunications with Eli Manning, caught all three passes sent his way including one outstanding grab over Chris Cook for a touchdown. Peyton Hillis didn’t have great stats as a rusher during his Giants debut, but he and fullback John Conner provided a hard-hitting short-yardage duo that picked up a touchdown for the team. Hillis also caught five passes for 45 yards, including two critical receptions to convert long third-downs. He, Conner, and Randle all went a long way in helping the Giants secure their first win.
The Giants are still a long way away of being a good team this year, but they are nothing if not inconsistent and liable to go on a winning or losing streak at any time, as they’ve done several times over the past few years. A win against a beatable Philadelphia Eagles team next week would suddenly have the Giants looking a lot better in the division race and the NFC East is still very much up for grabs. The offense will absolutely have to improve to allow the Giants to keep up with the NFL’s more talented offenses, but if the defense can keep turning out performances like Monday night’s the team has a good chance of turning this season into something positive.
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