New York Giants Report Card: Grading Big Blue's Week 10 Performance
The New York Giants stumbled in their hyped Week 10 matchup with the 7-1 San Francisco 49ers, falling short 27-20 on the road. The Giants surged back after trailing 27-13, but their comeback attempt halted in the red zone with under a minute to go on a 4th-and-2 Eli Manning pass knocked down at the line.
The Giants' defense struggled much of the afternoon, while 49ers quarterback Alex Smith had his way with them. Despite stopping the NFL’s sixth-best rushing attack for much of the game, the Giants turned in a defensive outing that was the polar opposite to their outstanding stand against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Week 9.
This loss sets the Giants off track, but a rematch with the sputtering Eagles (3-6) in Week 11 could help them bounce back while they hold onto the NFC East lead in a tight race with the Dallas Cowboys (5-4).
These Giants did not look like the squad Big Blue will need to field in order to beat the talented Eagles, though. Let’s take a look at how each unit performed in Week 10.
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At times, Eli Manning was great. At times, he was downright awful. Unfortunately, for the Giants this week, he was anything but elite.
Down the field, Eli connected with his receivers all day with outstanding accuracy. Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham continued to be two of his favorite targets and accounted for 161 of Manning’s 311 passing yards.
It was the two mind-blowing interceptions that hurt Eli Manning—and ultimately the Giants—in their matchup with the 'Niners and likely took some points off the boards that the Giants could have used.
Despite those two mistakes, Manning was good for most of the game and did all he could to keep the Giants in it.
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The Giants were never going to have success running the ball, it was a given. Still, they tried. And they tried. And they tried.
With the exception of a nice, early start, the 49ers' defense played as expected, stopping Brandon Jacobs and DJ Ware all game. The Giants recorded just 93 rushing yards on 29 rushing attempts, averaging 3.2 yards per carry.
Jacobs continues to under-perform. Despite all his talking, he has yet to back up the talk to a point that would please Giants fans or the coaching staff.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
The Giants’ receivers continue to be one of the best wide receiver corps in the NFL today. They were led in Week 10 by Mario Manningham and his fantastic six-reception, 77-yard performance, despite an injury that hampered him for much of the week.
Along with Manningham’s beautiful 13-yard touchdown reception, Hakeem Nicks corralled Eli Manning’s nicest pass of the day for a 32-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter to spark the Giants’ late comeback bid.
Victor Cruz dropped a wide open pass early in the game but found his stride after that for Manning and the Giants. He finished the game with six receptions and 84 yards, doing a great job getting open against the 49ers' coverage team.
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Considering the difficult task at hand, the Giants' offensive line actually played quite well for the first time this season.
For much of the afternoon, the offensive lineman did a great job keeping the pressure off Eli Manning and allowing him enough time to find his receivers down the field. They surrendered just one sack on their quarterback and only a handful of times did they allow Manning to find himself with defenders in his face.
On the ground, there was little success. That blame doesn’t necessarily lie with the offensive line, though, who did manage to open some big holes throughout the game. The 49ers' defense is ranked first against the run and promised little success coming in for Big Blue’s 28th-ranked rushing attack.
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The Giants' defense is not what it used to be. Yes, they can still bring pressure, but pressure means absolutely nothing when your secondary cannot cover the opposing team’s receivers.
The Giants gave up too many big plays and too many points to a passing offense that had the 30th-ranked passing attack coming into Week 10. Blown coverage all day allowed the 'Niners to rack up 242 yards through the air and the game-clinching 31-yard touchdown reception by a wide open Vernon Davis.
Poor pass defense allowed Alex Smith to stretch the ball down the field all day, racking up eight yards per pass attempt for San Francisco. Tight end Delanie Walker had a big day, catching six passes for 69 yards; he was Smith’s most successful target on the day.
The defense did stop the NFL’s sixth-ranked rushing attack, but it’s worth noting that they were without their biggest offensive threat, Frank Gore, for much of the game.
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Da’Rel Scott added a nice spark to the kick return game that the Giants have craved for some time. He averaged 26 yards per return for the Giants, including a 37-yarder. That could be a good sign for things to come from Scott in the return game.
Victor Cruz was nothing special on punt returns, averaging just four yards per return and providing little as far as field position was concerned.
Lawrence Tynes was solid once again, nailing both field goals on the day and keeping the game close at the half.
The weak spot for New York’s special teams unit in Week 10 was punter Steve Weatherford. Weatherford has been a major improvement from Matt Dodge this season, but an atrocious 29-yard punt attempt late in the game forced the Giants’ defense into a tough spot.
The punt was Weatherford’s worst of the season and was not well-received by Giants coach Tom Coughlin on the sideline. It proved to be with reason—Vernon Davis scored on a 32-yard reception that turned out to be the game-winner for the 49ers.
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This loss is not a good look for a team who wants to prove they can be a second-half team. Much like the blame rests on Tom Coughlin and company’s shoulders for their perennial collapse, Coughlin and his coaching staff must take the blame for an awful showing in San Francisco on both sides of the ball.
From the start, the Giants were heavily out-coached. While the Giants planned for the run, Jim Harbaugh and his 49ers came at the Giants with the pass, which proved successful throughout the game. Perry Fewell’s defense could not adjust and failed to do enough to slow down the 49ers.
On offense, Kevin Gilbride—famously nicknamed “Kill Drive” by Giants fans—lived up to his nickname with baffling play calls throughout the game. While the pass worked fantastically, Gilbride’s insistence to throw inside draws with DJ Ware and counter sweeps to the outside with Jacobs worked to cut the Giants' offense down and halted multiple drives.
Gilbride’s call for an inside draw on 3rd-and-2 to go proved to be the dagger in the Giants' comeback bid, as the 49ers stuffed DJ Ware, which had been the story all afternoon.
Let's not even mention the penalties.