NY Giants vs. San Diego Chargers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for New York
The San Diego Chargers pulled the plug on the New York Giants' already slim playoff hopes by scoring on seven of their 10 possession as part of the 37-14 rout that ended New York's already waning hopes.
As has been the case for the Giants all season long, they were unable to get a complete game out of all three phases of the ball.
They turned the ball over three times on two interceptions thrown by quarterback Eli Manning and on running back Andre Brown’s first career fumble. The Chargers successfully converted two of those Giants turnovers into 14 first-half points for a 24-7 lead.
With the loss, the Giants’ record falls to 5-8. That means the best they can hope for in their remaining three games is to finish at .500 for the season.
That won’t be easy, as they have games coming up against teams that are still in the postseason hunt and who will not be in a charitable mood.
Those games include a home matchup against the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks, who lost 19-17 to the San Francisco 49ers and the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions, who lost 34-20 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Giants, who will close out their 2013 season at home against Washington on Dec. 29, have not finished below 8-8 since 2004, head coach Tom Coughlin's first year at the helm.
In that season, New York finished in second place in the NFC East.
The Giants last finished at 8-8 in 2009, a year in which they placed third in the division.
They have finished 9-7 in each of the last two seasons, with the 2011 team winning the Super Bowl and the 2012 team missing the playoffs.
Let's look at the grades from this week's debacle.
In perhaps his worst performance to date, Eli Manning threw two ill-timed interceptions. He also was guilty of throwing a bunch of passes that rarely were on target to his intended receivers.
While his pass protection broke down more times than not—he was sacked twice and hit five times—the fact remains that Manning did very little to help himself.
He racked up his fourth delay-of-game penalty of the season, per NFL Game Statistics and Information Systems (login required), when he took too long to get everyone set up.
His first-quarter interception, which bounced off the hands of receiver Rueben Randle to set up the Chargers’ first scoring drive of the game, was thrown a little behind the receiver.
Manning also dodged at least two other interceptions, including one negated by a penalty in the second half, and had a whopping 11 passes broken up by a Chargers defense that, coming into this weekend’s game, was ranked 29th overall and 28th in pass defense.
The other thing that was particularly disheartening to see was the pace Manning ran the offense, especially as time ticked away late in the third quarter.
Rather than try to expedite things along, Manning and company moved in and out of the huddle as though they were taking a leisurely Sunday stroll.
Manning's laid-back approach to managing the game clock is a big reason why the Chargers had enough time to review Andre Brown's fumble, throw the red flag and win the challenge.
Unit Grade: D
Take away Andre Brown’s first-ever career fumble, and his 81 yards on 16 carries (5.1 avg.) were quite respectable.
However, he only had four carries for 31 yards and the lone rushing touchdown, as once the Giants fell so far behind, they went more to the pass, finishing with 20 rushes and 32 pass attempts.
Fullback John Conner probably received about a dozen snaps this week, doing well with his lead blocking.
After showing some receiving ability out of the backfield, he hasn’t been targeted in the flat since Nov. 17 vs. Green Bay, which is disappointing given that he’s shown he has good hands.
Unit Grade: B
Brandon Myers finished by catching four of his seven targets for 26 yards, as the 28th-ranked defense against the pass held every Giants receiver to under 60 yards.
The good news is that Myers was the recipient of the lone passing touchdown, his third in his last three games.
Bear Pascoe caught the lone pass thrown his way for 14 big yards, matching his season-long set against the Chicago Bears in Week 6.
Statistics aside, the Giants tight ends, like their receivers, were inconsistent with getting open on a regular basis. Their blocking, meanwhile, was mediocre.
Unit Grade: C-
Hakeem Nicks recorded his first 100-yard receiving game since Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles, finishing with five receptions for 135 yards this week.
However, the number that is most glaring is the big, fat goose egg under the “TD” category on the stat sheet.
Prior to this game, Stats NFL noted that Nicks, who this week looked like he was playing with a little more confidence, had 44 receptions without a touchdown this season, the most by any receiver this year. That number is now at 49.
Meanwhile, can anyone remember when Victor Cruz last caught a touchdown pass?
No? Try Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
This week, Cruz, whom defenses have managed to remove from the equation, caught five out of six passes for 42 yards, which, believe it or not, is not his worst yardage production this season.
That would be his Week 3 showing against the Carolina Panthers in which he was held to 25 yards on three receptions.
Anyway, despite constantly drawing heavy coverage, Cruz continued to fight and take advantage of finding soft spots in the coverage. Unfortunately, teams are really making him work for those chances.
Randle, who has now gone three games without a touchdown catch, was the intended target on Manning’s first interception. The ball bounced off his hands on what was a timing route and into the arms of a defender.
Why the game plan continued to ask Randle to run timing routes when all season long they’ve resulted in either turnovers or misses, is another mystery. Anyway, Randle finished with two catches for 27 yards this week.
Louis Murphy was targeted twice in the passing game, including on the end of Manning’s interceptions, which on first glance looked to be the result of an underthrown ball.
What’s particularly frustrating about Murphy, who was supposed to have been a receiver who could stretch the field, is that he just doesn't run crisp routes.
Unit Grade: C-
For the second week in a row, the left-side combination of tackle Will Beatty and guard James Brewer struggled, especially in the pass block.
Brewer in particular seemed to be outwitted. He lost a battle against his man in the fourth quarter on a deep ball intended for receiver Victor Cruz.
He was also beaten on several other pass rushes, at times either trying to block his man too high or just being a hair too slow off the snap.
It will be interesting to see if Brewer remains in the starting lineup or if the coaches give Brandon Mosley, who had a solid game as the blocking tight end, a chance now that the Giants’ playoff hopes are over.
Over on the right side, guard David Diehl gave up one sack and several pressures, as he couldn’t find an anchor against his man.
His performance was acceptable in the running game, but he can no longer keep up with the speed or power pass-rushers of today’s pass-rushing game, which is a big problem.
Right tackle Justin Pugh recorded another solid game, appearing to yield only a couple of pressures. The Chargers seemed to go after the interior of the Giants' offensive line with gusto, a strategically sound tactic given the personnel’s play at those spots.
Center Kevin Boothe played a solid game this week and was far from being a problem on the offensive line.
Unit Grade: D-
Following up on his four-sack effort from last week, Justin Tuck added another two sacks to go along with six total tackles, five of which were solos.
He also posted one tackle for a loss, three quarterback hits and one forced fumble in what was a bright spot for the defense this week.
On the other side, Mathias Kiwanuka seems to be quickly playing himself off this team. He committed another foolish personal-foul penalty, his third of this season.
Kiwanuka who finished with three tackles, as the Chargers seemed to run at his side of the field all day long, has to learn to get his emotions under control as he’s hurting his team.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell indicated last week that rookie Damontre Moore might see a bigger role. Moore's total snap count isn't yet known, but whatever it was, he failed to dent the stat sheet.
Unit Grade: C+
The Giants vaunted run defense, which begins with the defensive interior, was gashed every which way this week by running back Ryan Matthews.
Matthews became the first running back to record a 100-yard game on the ground since DeAngelo Williams of the Carolina Panthers in Week 3.
He finished with 103 yards on 29 carries and one touchdown as the defensive tackles struggled to get off their blocks.
Linval Joseph was the best of the bunch in fighting off blocks and recording five tackles (four solo) to lead this unit.
Cullen Jenkins, who took some snaps at defensive end, put up a good fight, but looked like he was becoming winded in the second half.
Mike Patterson and Johnathan Hankins often paired up and had mixed results against the run and in collapsing the pocket.
Unit Grade: D
Jon Beason, who agreed with those who saw the game that the Giants defense came out flat, finished with nine tackles, five solo, which was third-best on the team this week.
He’s not quite as quick in coverage as he once was, this perhaps a result of his Achilles and knee injuries of the past, so on several pass completions while in zone coverage, he often appeared a step too late.
Beason’s blitzes also didn’t hit home as the Chargers had an answer for every one of them.
Against the run, Beason was neutralized as the Chargers seemed to scheme to limit his effectiveness.
Jacquian Williams, who finished with four tackles, two solo, had some issues against play action. He was a little too overly aggressive and thus was left watching when Antonio Gates got behind him in the red zone for a reception.
Keith Rivers recorded only three tackles this week, but it wasn’t because of what he did or didn't do.
Rather, the Chargers often ran their three-wide package, which meant the Giants countered with their nickel.
When that happened, the Chargers ran the ball, which was part of the reason why they had the success they had this week on the ground.
Spencer Paysinger came up with four big tackles against the run, demonstrating good instincts and anticipation.
However, it’s a mystery as to why the scheme was such that he was isolated one-on-one against receiver Vincent Brown in the end zone on one play.
The ball was thrown toward Brown, and Paysinger, perhaps unaware of where the ball was, grabbed onto Brown, drawing the defensive pass-interference call that set the Chargers up with 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
Despite leading the team with 10 tackles this week, Antrel Rolle left quite a few plays out there on the field.
He missed some receivers on short passing routes who successfully eluded his tackle attempt.
However, after the game, Rolle didn't sugarcoat what had transpired out on the field.
"There was no intensity, there was no emotion," he told Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger. "It just wasn’t a good football team to be out there that first half."
Will Hill didn’t have much to do this week as the Chargers seldom went down the field.
When he did have to get involved, he was right on top of things, alertly stepping up and stopping a reception short of the first down marker in the first half.
Rookie Cooper Taylor suffered a hamstring injury and had to leave the game. He was spotted on the sideline with a noticeable limp.
Unit Grade: C
It was not a very good game for Prince Amukamara, who couldn’t keep up in coverage against rookie Keenan Allen.
Instead of pressing against Allen, Amukamara gave him a nice-sized cushion, and the rookie made him pay.
On Allen’s second touchdown reception, Amukamara seemed to take his eyes off Allen just for a split second, which was all the receiver needed to get into the end zone untouched for the score.
Trumaine McBride, trying to play through a balky groin, didn’t dent the tackle sheet.
When he was targeted, he held up except for one key play at the end of the first half.
On that play, he failed to go to the inside, giving running back Danny Woodhead an open lane to get into the end zone for his lone touchdown of the game.
Jayron Hosley, who finished with two tackles, came in and took most of his snaps in the second half. His biggest play of the game occurred while covering running back Danny Woodhead down the field.
The pass was thrown deep, and Hosley volleyed the ball upward, which allowed Woodhead to snatch it on the rebound.
What Hosley should have done on the play was knock it away. Instead, he appeared to be trying to tip it to himself for the interception only to tip it to Woodhead who came up with the reception.
Terrell Thomas also had a forgettable game, as he was beaten several times, most notably on a first-quarter pattern by Allen, who juked Thomas right out the picture.
Thomas was also beaten by tight end Antonio Gates, whose speed was no match for the cornerback.
Unit Grade: D+
Punter Steve Weatherford only had three punts. Kicker Josh Brown, meanwhile, made all of his PATs, while on his three kickoffs, one went for a touchback while the other two were covered.
The two return specialists didn’t have any impact on the game either. Punt returner Rueben Randle fair-caught his lone attempt while kickoff returner Michael Cox did what he could in fighting for field position, despite having shoddy blocking in front of him.
On the negative side, rookie Charles James had a mental lapse when on a 41-yard Chargers’ field-goal attempt that was no good, he lined up in the neutral zone.
His penalty gave the Chargers five more yards on the redo, and this time, kicker Nick Novak put it through the uprights from 36 yards away.
Ryan Mundy’s holding penalty negated Michael Cox’s best kickoff return of the day, a 23-yard return.
Zak DeOssie and Cox combined for three of the four solo tackles made on special teams, while Larry Donnell contributed an assist.
Unit Grade: C-