Was MLB Chase Blackburn a winner or loser in Week 13?
After falling to the Washington Redskins, 17-16, on Monday Night Football, the New York Giants’ record stands at 7-5 through 13 weeks of football. The loss was the Giants’ third in their past four contests.
A dominating 38-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers in Week 12 must have overinflated New York’s confidence. Beating the Redskins would have provided a comfortable two-game lead in the division, but the team did not step up to the plate.
The Giants are heading into the final weeks of the season with much less breathing room than originally anticipated, but that may not be a bad thing. New York plays best when faced with adversity—even when it’s self-induced.
Let’s get to the winners and losers from Week 13.
OT Sean Locklear left the game early with a leg injury.
Right tackle Sean Locklear was clearly hurting as the injury cart swept him from the playing field, but Eli Manning and the Giants offense will be the ones feeling the residual effects in the weeks to come. Locklear has started in every game this season except two.
Locklear was not having an outstanding game before his injury—he had two blatant penalties early on—but the Giants will miss his reliable pass-blocking ability. The team is skating on thin ice at tackle now, as Will Beatty is injury-prone and David Diehl has struggled to stay on the field in 2012.
If Locklear’s injury is, indeed, long term, will New York turn to second-year pro James Brewer or opt to call veteran Kareem McKenzie, an ex-Giant, off the street?
QB Eli Manning played well against Washington.
Quarterback Eli Manning wasn’t able to engineer one of his patented fourth-quarter, game-winning drives against the Redskins, but his performance in Week 13 was certainly commendable. Any remaining whispers of a Manning slump were silenced on Monday night.
Manning completed 20 of his 33 attempts for 280 yards and a touchdown. He had no interceptions, and with a yards per attempt average of 8.5, Manning actually improved upon his last outing versus the Redskins.
Manning connected with seven different receivers against Washington, including unlikely targets tight end Bear Pascoe and wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan. The veteran’s even distribution of the ball was not enough to ensure a victory, though, as Manning’s squad blew a fourth-quarter lead for the third time this season.
DE Osi Umenyiora was worthless in Week 13.
The Giants’ defensive front was pretty pathetic as a whole, failing to contain the light-footed Redskins offense at all in Week 13.
This has been a recurring problem for the Giants defense, but defensive end Osi Umenyiora never seems to learn from his mistakes.
Umenyiora did not display the discipline needed to turn the ball-carrier back inside, allowing multiple plays to bounce outside for big gains. He recorded zero sacks and only one tackle on Monday night, rendering himself virtually useless against a dangerous Washington offense.
The Giants needed Umenyiora to step up in Week 13, as Jason Pierre-Paul’s lack of effectiveness was expected due to a lingering back injury. Umenyiora let the team down in a huge way, but the entire pass rush was also missing in action.
Robert Griffin III escaped the game virtually unscathed, sustaining no sacks and only two QB hits.
TE Martellus Bennett enjoyed one of his best days as a Giant.
Martellus Bennett has been a workhorse at tight end for the Giants this season. In defiance of pestering pain, Bennett has fought to remain a fixture in the starting lineup, building a solid rapport with Manning in the process.
Bennett caught three touchdown passes in the first three weeks of the season, but after an eight-game scoring hiatus, the 6'6" tight end finally found the end zone for the fourth time this season. The Giants will need him to be a dependable red-zone option down the stretch, as the team chases after another NFC East title.
Bennett caught five balls for a season-high 82 yards against Washington.
LB Chase Blackburn was a liability against the run on Monday night.
With eight tackles (four solo) and a pivotal forced fumble, linebacker Chase Blackburn did not have a terrible game, but the blame for the Giants’ poor effort against the run has to fall on someone’s shoulders.
Blackburn deserves some of that blame.
New York allowed the Redskins to rush for an average of 7.1 yards per carry on Monday night, which is completely unacceptable for a supposed championship-caliber defense. Running back Alfred Morris torched the Giants for 124 yards on 22 touches, and Griffin III did the same with 72 yards on five carries.
Blackburn, who is a clear leader of the defense, was not able to get his team on the right page. He will need to find a way to improve the team’s run-stuffing ability if the Giants want to entertain the idea of a Super Bowl repeat.
DT Linval Joseph takes two men to block.
As poorly as Chase Blackburn and the rest of the Giants linebackers played against the run, defensive tackle Linval Joseph did everything he could to make a difference.
The 323-pound lineman was difficult for the ‘Skins to stop.
Joseph enjoyed one of his best statistical games of the season with seven tackles (two solo), which matched his single-game high for 2012. In addition to making plays on his own, Joseph took on his usual double-teams, which normally free up his linebackers to make stops.
The Redskins, however, repeatedly got blockers to the second level, paving the way for Morris to collect big chunks of yardage play after play. This neutralized many of Joseph’s efforts, but it doesn’t change his “winner” status for Week 13.
RB David Wilson did not play much vs. the 'Skins.
Running back David Wilson should view Monday’s loss as a squandered opportunity. To be fair, the coaching staff did not grant Wilson much of a chance to begin with, but the rookie should have made a bigger splash with Andre Brown out of the lineup.
Wilson collected an unimpressive nine yards on four carries in Week 13, and he split snaps pretty evenly with midweek acquisition Kregg Lumpkin. Unfortunately for Wilson, Lumpkin seems to be the preferred back in passing situations, which further emphasizes Tom Coughlin’s lack of confidence in Wilson’s protection skills.
As the weeks wear on, Wilson’s chances to make an impact as a rookie are swiftly passing by. It may be too soon to break out the draft-bust label, but Wilson is certainly causing fans to wonder if he’ll contribute much at all in 2012.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw plays with an attitude.
Conversely, running Back Ahmad Bradshaw quietly had his third 100-yard rushing performance of the 2012 season on Monday night. Usually, when the Giants run the ball that effectively, the team has a tendency to win.
Clearly, that was not the case versus Washington.
Although Bradshaw averaged a healthy 4.3 yards per carry for the game, his effectiveness trailed off towards the end. In the second half, when the Redskins knew the runs were coming, many of the Giants blocks fell through, resulting in minimal gains for the experienced running back.
Bradshaw still took on a large load (24 carries) and ran with grit and determination from start to finish.
LS Zak DeOssie had a bad snap on Monday night.
The long snapper is a position that goes completely unnoticed until he causes a fatal error, costing his team the game. Such was the case for Zak DeOssie. Early in the second quarter, the Giants lined up for a field goal, which would have made the score 7-6 in favor of the Redskins.
For most of the season, the special teams unit of DeOssie, punter/holder Steve Weatherford and kicker Lawrence Tynes has been automatic, but something went awry on the Monday night attempt. DeOssie botched the snap, which tampered with the delicate timing of the kick, causing Tynes to pull it wide left.
The miss was only Tynes’ fourth miss—and the first non-blocked miss under 50 yards—of the season. He still went 3-for-4 on the night, but in a one-point game, a missed field goal means everything.
DC Perry Fewell's defense held Washington to only 17 points.
Sure, the Giants defense could not find a way to counter Alfred Morris’ power running, but in the end, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s game plan set the team up for victory—New York just failed to capture it.
Fewell’s defense has visibly improved since the bye week. In Week 12, the Giants shut down quarterback Aaron Rogers’ high-flying Packers offense, which averages 24.7 points per game (12th in NFL), holding Green Bay to only 10 points. This week, Fewell’s unit limited Griffin III and an explosive Washington offense that averages 26.8 points per game (sixth in NFL) to only 17 points.
If the Giants were able to play a bit more consistently on the Redskins side of the field, we would be praising Fewell’s defensive adjustments rather than wondering why New York scurried out of the nation’s capital with its tail between its legs.