Since, however, the Giants are a disappointing 1-3 and facing a rugged schedule ahead with the NFC East on the line. Losing 17-16 to Robert Griffin III simply epitomized New York's underachieving stretch since November began.
By comparison, Washington and Dallas face an easier schedule for the remainder of the regular season. So, by the time Christmas rolls around, the Giants could only be fighting for an NFC Wild Card as opposed to the division crown.
To that end, let's check out how Big Blue got into its current state and see whether New York can make 2012 an encore of 2011.
Manning During the Rough Patch
Manning hasn't been his normal self during this tough stretch for New York.
Even as the winning streak closed out against the Dallas Cowboys, Manning didn't throw a touchdown in that Week 8 victory. Instead, he was intercepted one time, and it carried into November.
Against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, Manning was intercepted three times and didn't toss a touchdown. He was also sacked six times between both games, though Manning has only been sacked 14 times on the year.
So he was clearly protected better through the first half while making more conscientious pre-snap reads at a consistent rate.
And although the two-time Super Bowl champion has definitely played better of recent—four touchdowns to zero picks against the Green Bay Packers and Redskins—he has completed just 56.9 percent of his passes over those past two contests.
In an article by Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News:
Against the Redskins, the offense slipped back into another red zone coma. The stats looked pretty, with Manning throwing for 276 yards and the Giants piling up 390 yards of total offense. Yet it took Manning and Co. nearly an entire half to find the end zone.
“We had to drive the ball down and get scores (in the fourth quarter),” Manning said. “And we couldn’t do it.”
The deep ball that was overthrown to Victor Cruz in the early stages of Monday night sums up Manning's recent frustrations. Because, if that pass is completed, Cruz scores and the game's complexion turns in heavy favor of New York.
One week the pass rush is solid but the run defense fails miserably. The next, it's virtually the opposite.
The Giants defense gave up 5.7 yards per carry to Issac Redman of the Steelers despite sacking Ben Roethlisberger four times. Big Blue then proceeded to stifle the Bengals' ground attack and limit Cincy to 2.7 yards per rush.
Unfortunately, Andy Dalton was not sacked, and the Bengals steamrolled New York.
In the blowout win over Green Bay, the Giants still allowed 4.5 yards per rushing attempt, and James Starks finished with 4.4. Now yes, this game was basically over by halftime, as Big Blue led 31-10 before winning 38-10.
Sacking Aaron Rodgers five times was definitely impressive, though, because he is much more mobile than he's given credit for. Still, that rush failed maintain consistency, and everything got exploited against Washington.
RG3 was not sacked, and he completed 62 percent of his passes. Additionally, the Redskins averaged 6.7 yards per carry despite losing the possession battle by roughly 6.5 minutes.
There was frustration throughout the locker room and coach’s office. Giants Coach Tom Coughlin lamented his team’s mistakes, in penalties and in allowing the Redskins to convert time and again in the second half. “We talk finish, finish, finish, finish, finish,” Coughlin said.
In short, a defense can't help contribute to a win without applying consistent quarterback pressure and stopping the run.
What Lies Ahead
On Big Blue's remaining schedule are the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons (away), Baltimore Ravens (away) and the Philadelphia Eagles. Only Philly is the cakewalk, because the Saints, Falcons and Ravens are capable of moving the ball against New York.
Elsewhere, the non-common opponents for the Redskins are the Browns and Cowboys. Dallas, on the other hand, still has yet to face Pittsburgh and Cincinnati: Dallas also plays at Washington in Week 17.
It's a harder stretch for Dallas, but Washington could very well finish at 10-6.
Provided the Redskins defeat Baltimore at home, the NFC East race only heats up. Recently, December and January have been New York's bread-and-butter; however, 2012 will be a different story if the Giants fail to score and play sound defense.
After all, Manning and the offense averaged only 16.3 points per game in their past three losses.
That inability to score simply won't get the job done, as evidenced by Monday night in our nation's capital.
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