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The New York Giants defense did not play like itself during the regular season, falling victim to the big play on numerous occasions. The San Francisco 49ers showed in the NFC Championship Game that with the proper play call, an improved Giants defense is still vulnerable against that big play with two Vernon Davis touchdowns of more than 20 yards.
During the regular season, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots accounted for an NFL-best 71 plays of 20 yards or more and a third-best 14 plays of 40 yards or more. The Giants defense, meanwhile, surrendered an astounding 60 plays of 20 yards or more to opposing offenses—fourth-worst in the NFL.
This postseason, the Giants have already allowed seven plays of over 20 yards and one play over 40 yards—Vernon Davis’ spectacular 73-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
The Patriots offense is built on the big play, relying on talented receivers Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to break something open as much as they depend on Tom Brady and his accurate arm.
In their Week 9 meeting, Welker had four receptions for 20 yards or more while Gronkowski added a 27-yard reception of his own to the mix. Welker and Gronkowski combined for 17 receptions, 237 yards and a 14-yard touchdown reception by Gronkowski that gave the Patriots the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Eli Manning’s heroics combined with a phenomenal catch by tight end Jake Ballard in the final minute enabled the Giants to overcome the Patriots’ offensive onslaught, but how many times must New York place their hopes in some Manning magic?
The Giants’ failure to stop the big play in the past could allude to a forthcoming shortcoming that could prove to be the damaging blow the Giants have managed to evade to this point.