Big Blue Breakdown: Week 8 Recap
The New York Giants may be 2-6 and at the bottom of the NFC East, but there is a lot to like about the team that has won their last two games, including a 15-7 victory over the rival Philadelphia Eagles in week 8. They currently sit three games back from the 4-4 Cowboys in the division so it remains to be seen whether or not their recent effort is too little, too late, but for now Giants fans are full of hope about their team’s prospects for the year. As always, we’ll break down the negatives and the positives from the team’s win over the Eagles and try to figure out where this recovery came from as well as what it means for how the rest of the season will go.
- Giants beat Philadelphia Eagles 15-7
- CB Terrell Thomas wins NFC Defensive Player of the week for 11 tackle game with a sack, deflected pass and forced fumble
- RBs Brandon Jacobs and Andre Brown predict week 10 returns
- Pick Giants traded for Jon Beason revealed as 7th-rounder
Though the team’s 15-7 win showcased a dominant defensive effort, it also saw the return of an offense which can’t finish drives. Five times the Giants had to rely on kicker Josh Brown to put points on the board because the offense stalled in or near the red zone. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks both caught seven passes, but Cruz hasn’t scored a touchdown since week 4 nor has he made many big plays. Nicks, meanwhile, is still having trouble connecting with Eli Manning due to drops and miscommunications. Rueben Randle was nowhere to be seen with zero receptions. The offensive line even turned out a solid performance in pass blocking this game, but Manning and the receivers are continuing to struggle.
The run game wasn’t great either, and the longest run of the day by New York went for nine yards. Peyton Hillis carried the rock 20 times but only gained 70 yards, though he isn’t to blame; the offensive line simply isn’t opening up holes or allowing big plays to happen. Hillis is running hard and attempting to move the ball, but with no blocking he doesn’t have much to show for it. In case anyone has failed to realize it at this point, the Giants need to find offensive linemen in the offseason. A blocking tight end wouldn’t hurt either, as Brandon Myers isn’t nearly the kind of player Martellus Bennett was in that regard.
The special teams unit showed improvement this week, but they ended up giving the Eagles their only points after a botched snap by Zak DeOssie led to a fumble recovery for the touchdown. However, as Tom Coughlin pointed out, DeOssie has never made a bad play like that before and it can probably be written off as an isolated incident which won’t crop up again.
The biggest positives that came from the offense in week 8 were the lack of turnovers and the smart play. Eli Manning didn’t throw any interceptions nor did the running backs ever cough up the football. The defense took over the game and the offense did their part by being smart and safe with the football. Manning’s 25 completions on 39 attempts were precise and on-target as he racked up 246 yards. Though Cruz didn’t make any of the highlight-reel plays he is known for, his seven catches for 86 yards still helped move the chains consistently. Peyton Hillis, meanwhile, ran hard on the ground and showed the kind of strength and toughness the Giants need in a back right now. And finally, despite the struggles from the rest of the offensive line rookie Justin Pugh continued to improve both as a pass and run blocker with another strong performance this week.
It might be easier to just put the entire defensive effort as a positive, but that wouldn’t give enough credit to the secondary for their outstanding performance. They held the Eagles to 188 passing yards while Antrel Rolle and Will Hill picked off the first and last pass attempts of the day, respectively. Rolle and Terrell Thomas also collected sacks and Thomas managed to strip the ball from Matt Barkley. Rolle, Hill, Thomas, and Prince Amukamara combined for 26 tackles, three pass deflections, two interceptions, and two sacks on the day during a dominant effort which completely shut down the Eagles in the passing game.
The defensive line put forth one of their better pass rushing performances of the season as Linval Joseph and Mathias Kiwanuka both recorded sacks. The line also held Vick to one rushing yard and once again Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul led a defensive effort which held Lesean McCoy to 48 rushing yards on 15 attempts. The Jon Beason-led linebackers supplemented them, but it was dominance at the line of scrimmage which halted the Eagles on the ground.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a shoutout to Josh Brown. Though he’s had his struggles this year he nailed five field goals on five attempts which ranged between 27 and 46 yards. Even though the offense stalled Brown was able to put points on the board and lead the Giants to their first touchdown-less win since 2002.
Ideally, the Giants offense would be playing a much bigger part in the team’s wins these past two weeks, especially because they will be playing much better offenses later on the in the season. However, Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs may be returning after the bye to help ignite the run game and Eli Manning is building chemistry with his receivers. It’s also hard to be unhappy with the defensive effort that has been put forth against the Vikings and Eagles under the leadership of Jon Beason. If the offense can limit turnovers and finish drives on occasion, the Giants team that was hailed as having a deadly offense at the beginning of the year could find success as a smart, defense-driven team. The sky is the limit at the moment, with the division race still up in the air, but there is plenty of reason to believe that the Giants can come back and give the Cowboys one heck of a fight for it.
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