Giants vs Packers: What We Learned in Big Blue's 38-10 Rout of Green Bay
What was supposed to be a key matchup between two NFC playoff contenders ended up being a blowout.
After spending last week resting with their bye week, the reigning Super Bowl Champions of the NFL returned to the spotlight and looked as sharp as ever.
The game started out very fast with both teams scoring on their first possession, and it looked like it could be a shootout similar to last year's game at MetLife Stadium.
What did we learn from Sunday night's game about the Giants?
Click through to find out.
Andre Brown's Injury Is a Blow to the Running Game
What a tough break for Andre Brown.
We all know his 2012 success story, but unfortunately his Cinderella season has been cut short, as reported after the game by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
Andre Brown broke his fibula according to Coughlin— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) November 26, 2012
Paul Schwartz from the New York Post also confirmed the news as well.
Andre Brown broke his fibula. Season-ender and big loss for Giants.— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) November 26, 2012
Brown had just rushed for his eighth touchdown in the game against the Packers and had 13 carries for 64 yards on Sunday.
Don't be surprised if Joseph Addai gets signed before the next game, as the injury leaves just Ahmad Bradshaw and David Wilson as the only two active running backs on the roster, with Da'Rel Scott already on the IR.
The Giants D Shut Down the Running Game
I don't want to annoy any Packers fans out there, but they really are a one-dimensional team out there on offense.
Ever since Cedric Benson went down with an injury earlier in the season, the running game hasn't been that effective, which clearly showed on Sunday night.
James Starks had eight carries for 35 yards.
Alex Green had 10 carries for 30 yards.
That will not get it done in the NFL, even with the Packers' explosive offense.
Taking away the run and making the offense one-dimensional allowed the Giants and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to call a lot of blitzes, attacking the quarterback and preparing for the pass.
Fewell's defense took away the run, and the result was reflected in the lopsided score.
The Pass Rush Came Alive Against Aaron Rodgers
Two weeks ago, against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Giants did not record one single sack on Andy Dalton.
On Sunday night against the Packers, they got to reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers five times.
Mathias Kiwanuka had two key sacks on Rodgers, and Chris Canty, Chase Blackburn and Osi Umenyiora each had one.
Umenyiora's was crucial, as it was his infamous strip-sack: he knocked the ball out of Rodgers' hands, and Jason Pierre-Paul was able to recover the fumble.
Two plays later, Ahmad Bradshaw scored on a 13-yard touchdown to make it 31-10 Giants.
Rodgers never got comfortable in the pocket and several times had to run for his life, due to pressure from Giants defenders.
It's the first time in weeks where the Giants' pass rush looked like how they are supposed to.
And if they've finally woken up from their slow start, opposing quarterbacks are in some serious trouble.
Hakeem Nicks Looks Like He's Back to Normal
In the beginning of the season, Hakeem Nicks missed three games with a swollen knee, which really limited the Giants' passing options.
Two weeks ago against the Bengals, Nicks showed some signs of life with nine catches for 75 yards, but no touchdowns.
Against the Packers, Nicks was able to be that go-to receiver, as he caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Nicks could have had a couple of touchdowns, but either Eli Manning overthrew him in the end zone, or he was well covered and had the ball knocked away.
It was the first time since Week 2 where Nicks caught a touchdown in a game for the Giants. I think he'll start to catch more as the season wears on.
If Nicks can play at an elite level along with Victor Cruz, defensive coordinators and defensive backs are going to have their hands full trying to stop that dynamic duo in the open field.
Rueben Randle Showed Signs of NFL Maturity
A lot of fans have been riding Rueben Randle all year long after his disappointing start to his rookie season.
He had shown glimpses of greatness in a few games, but never any consistency.
With Domenik Hixon out for the game with an injury, Randle had to step in and be the Giants No. 3 receiver against the Packers, and he was finally able to deliver.
Randle recorded his first-ever NFL receiving touchdown in the first quarter. Eli Manning found him in the back of the end zone for a 16-yard strike that put the Giants ahead 14-7.
He ended the game with just two catches for 26 yards, but that touchdown was huge for Randle's confidence and progress.
If he can play like that on a consistent basis, it gives the Giants four legitimate options at wide receiver with Randle, Hixon, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, plus tight end Martellus Bennett.
Prince Amukamara Made Randall Cobb a Non-Factor
For all of the flack Corey Webster took in this game, Prince Amukamara made up for it.
Webster got faked out on Jordy Nelson's 61-yard touchdown reception early in the first quarter, but redeemed himself by intercepting a pass off Aaron Rodgers.
However, on the other side, Amukamara drew the assignment of covering Randall Cobb, who may be the Packers best playmaker on offense.
I had said during the week that he was one of the prime targets that the Giants had to limit and take away from Rodgers in the offense. And that's exactly what happened.
Cobb only had four catches for 39 yards and one carry for 12 yards, with no touchdowns.
All night, Rodgers was trying to get the ball to Cobb, but he couldn't because he was well-covered, which led to Rodgers checking down to his other options.
And when he did that, he was either scrambling for his life or getting sacked.
By Amukamara taking Cobb out of the offensive equation, it made the Packers' offense a weaker unit.
The Offensive Line Is Better with Sean Locklear over David Diehl
For weeks, I have been screaming for Tom Coughlin to put Sean Locklear back in the starting lineup instead of David Diehl.
In this game, he had no choice but to do so, as Diehl suffered a "burner" or pinched nerve, and never returned to the game.
Locklear came in and the offensive line was in sync and protected Eli Manning all game, allowing only one sack on the night.
Diehl might be a little better in the run-blocking game, but Locklear is by far a better pass-blocker over Diehl, and in the last two games, it showed.
I think the Giants strongly have to consider putting Diehl on the bench and keeping Locklear out there as the starter.
With him, the line plays better and gives up very few sacks.
Against the Packers, the Giants' offensive line dominated from start to finish.
In the Battle of Elite QBs, Eli Manning Outplayed Aaron Rodgers
Earlier in the week, I had said it would come down to Eli Manning versus Aaron Rodgers.
And in the end, Manning was the better of the two.
Manning went 16-for-30 for 249 yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Rodgers went 14-for-25 with 219 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception.
Manning was only sacked once and did not turn the ball over once in the game.
Rodgers on the other hand, was sacked five times and had one turnover, a fumble on Osi Umenyiora's strip-sack.
In the battle of the past two Super Bowl MVPs, Manning's star shone the brightest.
Whether the bye week let him mentally rest, or rest the "tired arm" that was talked about for almost two weeks, Manning looked like his old self out there.
And he finally ended the drought of three straight games without a touchdown pass, which went all the way back to Manning's game-winning touchdown pass to Victor Cruz against the Redskins.
As Manning goes, so does the Giants' offense, and tonight, their offense dominated a potential NFC playoff team by putting up 38 points against the Packers.
They Looked Like the Super Bowl Champions on the Field
After two straight losses, the Giants responded with one of the most dominant victories of the 2012 season.
After the Giants made the score 14-7 they never looked back, really taking it to Green Bay on both sides of the ball.
Their offense dominated the Green Bay defense, as they accumulated 390 yards of total offense.
The defense really gave the Packers' offense a fit, sacking Aaron Rodgers five times, causing one fumble with a recovery and one interception.
Special teams wasn't a huge factor in the game; although Mason Crosby did miss a 55-yard field goal in the first quarter that would have put the Packers ahead 10-7.
Why Mike McCarthy would have attempted such a long field goal in a very cold building is beyond me, but he took the gamble and lost.
But the bottom line from this game is that the Giants looked like the team that came into the season as the World Champions.
And if they play like this on a consistent basis, I don't think there is a team in the NFL that can beat them.
We all know the Giants have the offense to put up tremendous numbers. But if they get the pass rush going and can limit a high-octane offense like Green Bay to just 10 points, that's really impressive.
And that makes the Giants a deadly force to be reckoned with going forward.
Look out NFC. A sleeping Giants team might just have woken up and remembered exactly who they are: the defending champions of the entire sport.