Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning got the final proverbial noogie on his younger brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, in the “Manning Bowl,” as Peyton’s team captured the third and likely final regular-season installment of this famous series with a very convincing 41-23 win.
The elder Manning was virtually flawless with his performance, completing 69.7 percent of his passes to eight different receivers, tossing touchdown passes to tight end Julius Thomas and receiver Wes Welker.
The Broncos ran for 109 yards, 93 of which came courtesy of running back Knowshon Moreno, who also recorded the team’s two rushing touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Eli Manning threw four interceptions, boosting his season total to seven. He completed just 57.1 percent of his pass attempts, connecting on one touchdown with running back Da’Rel Scott in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.
For the second week in a row, the Giants’ rushing attack was nowhere to be found. The trio of Scott, starter David Wilson and Brandon Jacobs combined for 19 carries and 23 yards, the Giants’ lowest rushing total since they ran for just six yards at the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 12, 1989 in a 31-10 loss.
The Chiefs thwarted a Cowboys’ fourth-quarter comeback drive by forcing three straight incomplete Tony Romo passes. The drive, which stalled on the Chiefs’ 35, ended with Dallas settling for a 53-yard field goal by kicker Dan Bailey for the Cowboys’ final points of the game.
Following this field goal, which came with three minutes and 50 seconds left in the game, the Chiefs offense successfully chewed up the clock, as running back Jamaal Charles, who finished the day with 15 carries for 55 yards, picked up 47 of those rushing yards on eight carries on his team’s final drive.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for a career-high 480 yards and four touchdowns, with 178 of those yards recorded by receiver James Jones, who had a career-high 11 receptions. Running back James Starks replaced Eddie Lacy, who left the game with an injury. Starks ran for 132 yards and a touchdown.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III threw for 320 yards and three second-half touchdown passes, connecting with receiver Pierre Garcon for 143 of those yards as the Redskins tried to overcome a 24-0 halftime deficit.
Nick Novak’s 46-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the game gave the San Diego Chargers the win over the Eagles.
The Chargers overcame two early game fumbles inside of the Eagles’ 10-yard line, as quarterback Philip Rivers, who threw for 419 yards, connected with receiver Eddie Royal on three touchdowns.
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick’s 428 passing yards was a single-game career high, as he also had two touchdown passes and one rushing score, However Vick’s efforts just weren’t enough to overcome the poor play of the Eagles defense, which failed to stop the Chargers when it mattered the most.
The Giants will face the Carolina Panthers (0-2), who were topped 24-23 by the Buffalo Bills on a two-yard touchdown pass from Bills quarterback EJ Manuel to receiver Stevie Johnson with two seconds left in the game. The Giants are 4-3 against Carolina in regular-season games.
Philadelphia will host the Chiefs (2-0), who defeated Dallas 17-16 in Week 2.
The good news is that that the Giants appear to have come out of Week 2's action with nothing more than a collective bruised ego.
Receiver Hakeem Nicks' dislocated finger was popped back into place, and he was able to return to action after suffering the injury. Nicks told reporters after the game that he didn't anticipate having to miss any time with his injury, though it remains to be seen if the injury affects his ability to catch passes.
Tight end Brandon Myers, who took a beating in Sunday’s loss, told reporters on Monday that he's just sore.
According to The Star-Ledger, Myers had X-rays after the game for a possible rib injury and had also been tested for a concussion.
Head coach Tom Coughlin, who normally provides an injury update on the day following a game, did not have his usual day-after press conference because he had to take care of a family emergency.
What Must Improve
1. The Running Game
We know that the Giants managed just 23 yards on 19 carries, but those numbers don’t tell half of the story when it comes to their ground game’s struggles.
On eight of those carries, the Giants ran for zero or negative yardage—minus 14 yards total—all of which came on either 1st-and-10 or 2nd-and-10. The culprits on these failures varied, but suffice to say, the offensive line did not deliver a decent run-blocking performance.
It goes without saying that without a running game to help balance out the offense, teams are going to become more predictable and easier to defend, as was the case with the Giants on Sunday.
2. The Passing Game
Through two games, the Giants have 11 turnovers, seven of which can be attributed to quarterback Eli Manning, who is off to his worst start as a pro.
The scary thing is that some of the interceptions are simply the result of poor decisions made by the two-time Super Bowl MVP who is normally so well prepared for games.
What’s interesting is that Manning denied that he might be pressing in order to compensate for a lack of a running game, but then in the same thought, he added, “We’ve been stuck in some second and longs, third and longs. We’ve got to get the running game, we’ve got to be more balanced, and I think that will help things out.”
There’s no question that the running game will help out, but what will also help Manning is if he makes smarter decisions with the football. Right now, he’s taking far too many risks, trying to force balls to receivers who are double or tripled covered in his attempt to ignite a spark.
When a player presses like this, it’s usually a result of him feeling the need to lift the team on his shoulders. While that’s admirable, Manning needs to remember that he can’t win games by himself and, hard as it might seem at times, he needs to have a little more faith in the rest of his teammates on both sides of the ball to do their part.
3. The Head Coach's Motivational Message
After the game, head coach Tom Coughlin noted, "We've been 0-2 before, we've dug ourselves out of a hole before and have been able to fight our way out of it."
If that’s the motivation that Coughlin plans to use with this team, he might want to rethink his approach.
As Tom Rock of Long Island Newsday (subscription required) pointed out, the "we" that Coughlin is referencing is the 2007 Super Bowl team, of which nine players—quarterback Eli Manning, cornerbacks Corey Webster and Aaron Ross, offensive linemen Chris Snee and David Diehl, defensive ends Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka, long snapper Zak DeOssie and running back Brandon Jacobs—remain from that 53-man roster.
A better approach might be to get the 30 or so players who were part of the Giants’ 2011 Super Bowl team to consistently remind their teammates who have never been in the big game that by doing all the little things that might not be done by everyone, the whole team will have a better chance to earn a nice, shiny new Super Bowl ring.