The New York Giants are hard-pressed to find amazing performances from any one player week to week. This time around, against the San Diego Chargers, Hakeem Nicks seemed to have a great week on paper when he recorded 135 receiving yards.
It was the second-best game for Nicks all season long in terms of receiving yards. But watching Nicks play throughout the game showed that there was still something missing.
On one hand, his performance showed much improvement from weeks previous. On the other hand, as the game concluded, it led people to asking if the once prominent athlete could ever return to his 2011 glory days.
Here are some takeaways from Nicks' Week 14 performance, the good and the bad.
He Is Still Capable of Making Big Plays
During the first quarter, and before the Chargers went on a 24-0 run before halftime, Nicks made quite a big play as shown in the picture above. He snagged a 51-yard pass from Eli Manning, a momentum booster at the time, no doubt, for both Nicks and the Giants. That was, of course, until Donald Butler intercepted Manning
With all the drama this season, and Nicks missing a few games due to a lingering abdomen injury, it's good to see that he is still able to conquer the opposition's defense with his exceptional route running.
Nicks also leads the Giants in average yards per reception with 16.1 (compared to Victor Cruz's 13.7 average or Rueben Randle's 15.4).
Following Week 14, Nicks' season totals came up to 49 receptions for 789 yards. If he keeps on being a target for Eli Manning he can surely pass 1,000 receiving yards for the season (with three games left to achieve that mark).
He's Had His Best Performance Since Week 5
During Week 5 of the Giants' awful 2013 season, the team played the Philadelphia Eagles. It was another loss but the game wasn't a blowout. Part of the reason was because of Hakeem Nicks' performance. It was arguably the best game of the season for Nicks.
Since then, however, his numbers have fallen. For example, in two games, Nicks only recorded two receptions throughout the entire game. That number is obviously low considering the most receptions Nicks had in a game was nine in Week 5.
Although he only had five receptions in Week 14, he finally managed to gain more than 100 yards. He also averaged 27 yards per reception, an improvement over Week 5 or any of the other weeks' averages this season.
He Still Couldn't Separate from His Defender Much
Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle big challenge for Bolts in Week 14 http://t.co/jeYHs17Teh— San Diego Chargers (@chargers) December 6, 2013
Before the clash of the teams, the Chargers tweeted out that they were actually worried about the Giants' receivers, including Nicks. But they shouldn't have been. For the most part, the Giants receivers were silenced throughout the game.
And even though Nicks had that spectacular catch in the first quarter, he failed to consistently get open. The 51-yard pass was the only reception for Nicks in the first quarter. He didn't record another reception until the final play of the second quarter.
Nicks did nothing in the third quarter. As the game slipped away from the Giants, it seemed like the defenders loosened their hold on Nicks. So, in the fourth quarter, when the game had pretty much already been lost, Nicks made three catches. The longest fourth-quarter catch was 28 yards. He should've tried doing that earlier on.
He Doesn't Necessarily Pay Attention
Speaking of his second-quarter reception, a Hail Mary from Manning, Nicks did a good job of catching it. But he forgot about his placement on the field. What Nicks thought was the end zone was actually the 5-yard line.
“I knew I was going to get it. I thought I was in the end zone until I got up and everybody was just looking at me,” Nicks said to Ralph Vacciano and Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News. He was thinking, "Why isn't anyone celebrating?"
Well, Nicks' forgetfulness landed him a spot on the "C'Mon Man" segment on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown. Well, at least he didn't try to jump over anyone.
He Hasn't Had a Touchdown in 2013!
Nicks has yet to find the end zone in 2013.
Better yet, Week 14's game against the Chargers marked an exact year since Nicks had his last touchdown.
Since 2010, the amount of Nicks' touchdowns have decreased from 11 to 7 touchdowns in 2011 and 3 touchdowns in an injury-ridden 2012.
He only has three more games this season to get at least one touchdown in.
As Nicks is due to become a free agent at the end of the season, no one is sure where he will end up playing next year.
The Giants didn't trade him away before the end of the trade deadline in October, but that doesn't mean that they will re-sign him in the offseason. If Nicks wants to stay on the Giants, he'll have to prove that he wasn't completely at fault this season. He may have to prove to the Giants that because of a crumbling offensive line, Manning rarely had chances to throw deep passes to him.
And ultimately the Giants will have to figure out whether or not they are willing to pay $10 million for Nicks when they most obviously need to rebuild next season.
Will it be worth it to keep Nicks around or will it be better to use the money to fill other positions? Only time will tell. And if Nicks' performances improve over the last three weeks of the season, we'll see how that affects the team going forward.