Big Blue Breakdown: Week 10 Recap
By now, Giants fans should be used to seeing some strange things from Big Blue. However, it doesn’t get much stranger than seeing an 0-6 team that had few (if any) redeemable factors suddenly win three games and force themselves back into the hunt for the division title. The Giants have ridden a dominant defense to victory against the Vikings, Eagles, and most recently the Raiders. But what the heck is happening in New York? Who has been stepping up? What still needs work? Let’s take a look in this week’s Big Blue Breakdown:
- RB David Wilson, DT Shaun Rogers moved to IR
- RB Andre Brown, DT Markus Kuhn moved to active roster
- Giants beat Raiders 24-20
- Andre Brown plays first game of 2013 season, records career-high rushing yard total (115)
- Giants record first punt block for TD since 1988
- JPP out of practice with a shoulder injury
As with any game, the Giants’ win over the Oakland Raiders still came with some negatives the team needs to work on. Skating over the obvious offensive line issues, Eli Manning was simply bad. He went 12/22 for 140 yards, a TD and an interception and did not look like himself. He missed a wide-open Victor Cruz on 3rd down for what could’ve been a touchdown and his interception came on an awful throw. Speaking of Cruz, Manning tried to find him 10 times during the game but Cruz only ended up with three receptions, which reflects poorly on both of them. Manning didn’t display the decision-making ability, leadership, or poise that the Giants need from him if they expect to accomplish anything this season.
Surprisingly, Rashad Jennings rushed for 88 yards on 20 carries against a defense which shut down the likes of Adrian Peterson, Lesean McCoy, and Matt Forte. That’s still not a great game, but the Giants would do well to seal up whatever holes he exposed in their run defense so that they can be better prepared to stop Eddie Lacy on Sunday. The last thing they need is to give rookie QB Scott Tolzien a stable ground game to work with.
Finally, special teams looked pretty awful. To be more specific, Jerrel Jernigan and Steve Weatherford looked pretty awful. Jernigan, already a mediocre returner, fumbled the opening kickoff to set up the first offensive touchdown scored against the Giants in three games. Weatherford, meanwhile, averaged 30.3 yards per punt on five punts. Those numbers are completely unacceptable by a normally skilled punter and are only making things harder for the team’s defense.
The Giants’ defense was on fire in this game. Once again, the pass rush really stepped up as Mathias Kiwanuka, Keith Rivers, Antrel Rolle, and Jason Pierre-Paul all sacked Terrelle Pryor. Rolle finished the day with 12 total tackles while Rivers recorded 8, and both were instrumental in the defense’s dominance. Terrell Thomas made a spectacular interception (his first since 2010), which he returned 65 yards to set up a touchdown by Andre Brown. All in all, the defense showed very few flaws in yet another performance which demonstrates how much they have stepped up over the past few weeks.
On offense, Andre Brown tore up the Raiders’ defense with 30 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown in his first game back after breaking his leg during the preseason. Brown fought for every single yard and gave the Giants some much-needed confidence in their backfield. A strong, reliable running back who doesn’t fumble is exactly what they need to complement their stingy defense. In the passing game, meanwhile, Rueben Randle gave further merit to the notion that he may be the team’s best offensive player this season. He caught only three passes but took them for 50 yards, including a touchdown on a beautifully-run fade route. The offense only scored 17 points but if Brown can keep moving the chains on the ground while Randle makes plays as a receiver they can play ball-control offense while the defense shuts down opposing squads.
Despite all the flaws in this year’s special teams unit, one play they made against the Raiders went a long way in helping the Giants achieve victory. During an Oakland punt early in the game rookie Damontre Moore blew past the offensive line and blocked the ball, allowing fellow rookie Cooper Taylor to scoop it up and take it to the end zone. Not only was this the team’s first punt block for a touchdown in 25 years, but it also helped shift momentum right back to the Giants after the Raiders’ touchdown. This play ended up making a big difference in a game which ended up fairly close, and it showed what kind of potential the young players on the team have.
The Giants didn’t win as comfortably against Oakland as they did against Minnesota and Philadelphia, but they still earned a crucial win and proved that they may be able to find success by riding a strong running game and solid defense. It’s still a long road to get to the postseason, but Big Blue is on a hot streak and they’ve pulled off the impossible before. A division title isn’t out of the question as long as the Giants keep up their renewed efforts and the kind of play they’ve been demonstrating over the past three weeks.
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