This Week: Seattle (1-3) at New York (3-1)
A Tale of Two Fortunes
by Mike Fiammetta
Somehow, despite all the injuries and controversy that kept them in the headlines during the first month of the season, New York has somehow found a way to settle things down.All they’ve done since putting to rest the backlash from the moves and non-moves they made during the summer is post a 3-1 record that includes consecutive wins. That strong first quarter now finds the Giants in a perfect position to take the lead in the NFC East should they manage to handle this week’s foe, the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s not so much that the Giants have won, but how they’ve gone about it that has really bee the story thus far. Their huge come from behind win over the Eagles certainly was as emotional of a victory as one might find so early in a NFL season.
However the Giants topped that win with last week’s stunning 31-26 win over Arizona out in the desert. Trailing by ten points with barely more than five minutes remaining, QB Eli Manning, who played his best of game the season with his 27 of 40 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns performance, brought his team back twice from ten-point deficits, including one in the fourth quarter for his 16th career come from behind win.
Seattle, meanwhile, has failed to muster much success this season. After dropping their first two games of the season and rebounding with a 13-10 victory over the Cardinals, the Seahawks narrowly fell to the Atlanta Falcons, 30-28.
Interestingly, QB Tarvaris Jackson played his best game of the year in that loss, completing 25 of 38 passes for 319 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. The effort was necessary for Seattle, as RB Marshawn Lynch gained only 24 yards on eight carries and the team rushed for only 53.
Going into this week’s game against the Giants, the Seahawks ranked 31st in rushing yardage with an average of only 67.5 yards per game, ahead of only the Tennessee Titans (66.8).
Despite their won-loss record, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin nevertheless came away impressed after watching the film of the Seahawks-Falcons game.
“They’re down 27-7, they come back to lose to Atlanta 30-28 and even have a ball intercepted in the end zone,” Coughlin said. “They came roaring back after the half and really had an outstanding opportunity to win that game at home. They come out here to the east for the second trip. We look forward to this weekend against a good Seattle team. They’re 1-3, but don’t be fooled by the 1-3.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks have arguably exceeded expectations thus far despite their record. With the No. 13 defense (341.5 yards per game) through four games, Seattle has at least been competitive in two of their three losses.
Against the run, Seattle has allowed 105 yards per game, 14th league-wide. Against a Giants offense that averages 87.5 rushing yards per game (24th league wide) that could spell trouble for New York.
“We have to display the ability to run the ball in order to maintain our balance,” Coughlin said. “We have a prideful group in the room and hopefully that will be a major focus for us.”
THIS WEEK’S STORYLINES
* Someday their Prince Will Come. Although not directly related to this week’s game, the status of rookie CB Prince Amukamara was a hot topic this week, perhaps because some might have thought that Amukamara, who has been recovering from a broken foot suffered during early August, might be at least practicing on a limited basis this week.
Amukamara is out of his protective boot after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. He has been running on the sideline while his teammates practice, but remains a ways away from returning, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.
“[Ask about him] after the bye,” Coughlin said. “I can’t tell you anything more. I see what you see. He comes out and runs around. Some days he leaps but I don’t look at the X-rays. I just listen to what they tell me. He is making progress.”
In the meantime, the Giants added veteran corner Justin Tryon, who had been let go by the Colts, to their 53-man roster this week. The thinking is that Tryon will see time in the Giants’ nickel package against the slot receiver, a spot where Antrel Rolle had been trying to hold down the fort until Amukamara was able to return to action.
If the plan is indeed to move Tryon to the slot and Rolle back to safety, that could go a long way to fixing the Giants’ porous run defense of the last two weeks, which was gouged for 333 yards.
* * *
* Speaking of the run… Coughlin discussed some of the Giants’ issues in the running game, alluding to the high number of “different colored shirts” that made their way into New York’s backfield against Arizona.
One player whose name came up regarding the Giants’ issues at the point of attack was FB Henry Hynoski, the rookie out of Pittsburgh for whom the Giants have tremendous optimism.
Coughlin, however, said it’s not one player’s doing. Instead pointing to the change in personnel at tight end and on the offensive line, and how there is still a feeling out process taking pace.
“[The issues are] a little bit of that, but he has been pretty good,” Coughlin said. “You have a different group of guys but it is an emphasis for us and it is something we have to work our way out of.”
GIANTS INJURY REPORT/ANALYSIS
by Patricia Traina
OUT: C David Baas (neck), CB Prince Amukamara (foot)
Impact: With Baas out, the Giants will start Kevin Boothe at center. “He has been in there before and has done well,” said Coughlin. “We like to think that we are on course to stay basically the same.”
Last week, Boothe played the entire second half for Baas after he was injured and after an initial rough start, he did appear to settle down. Having had a full week of practice with the starting unit, Boothe should be more in tune with the other four offensive linemen as far as orchestrating assignments and communicating.
DOUBTFUL: RB Brandon Jacobs (knee), DE Justin Tuck (neck/groin)
Impact: I would be very surprised to see Tuck and Jacobs this weekend as usually when a guy doesn’t practice during the week, he just rarely goes on Sunday.
Let’s start with Tuck, whom head coach Tom Coughlin said experienced a setback this morning with his groin. You’ll recall that on Thursday, Tuck practiced on a limited basis. Yet following that practice during his weekly media session, Tuck was as disappointed and down about his situation as I can recall – even going back to two years ago when he had the season-long shoulder problem.
I don’t want to read too much into things and set off any alarms, but I don’t have a good feeling about where his injury status is heading.
If Tuck is indeed out, look for Jason Pierre-Paul to get the start in his place again with Dave “Roadhouse” Tollefson (next week’s Fan Q&A guest, buy the way) getting another healthy dose of snaps in that defensive line rotation.
Over to Jacobs. Again, my feeling is that he won’t go this week. I think in an ideal scenario, the Giants would like to have a healthy (or as close to healthy as they can get) Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw for upcoming stretch games against New Orleans, New England, Philadelphia, Green Bay, and Dallas. If that means resting Jacobs for a week – according to a source familiar with the running back’s injury, Jacobs’ MCL sprain is mild – then there is no reason to think that DJ Ware can’t handle Jacobs’ snaps.
Ware, for those not aware, was one of two Giants – the other being WR Domenik Hixon – that signed a contract extension BEFORE the lockout. On making that decision, Ware said, “It was my goal and I didn’t know what the situation was going to be with any of the other backs. I felt like it was my job to take care of me and go ahead and sign and hope for one of these opportunities like I have this weekend. Now I just have to make the most of it. “
Interestingly, Ware received 13 carries the last time the Giants met Seattle on Nov. 7, 2010, a 41-7 Giants win. “That is productive so I am just trying to lead up to that and continue to follow up with that,” Ware said.
PROBABLE: DT Rocky Bernard (ribs), LB Michael Boley (knee), and DE Osi Umenyiora (knee)
OUT: WR Mike Williams (concussion), G Robert Gallery (groin)
DOUBTFUL: LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring), CB Byron Maxwell (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Marcus Trufant (back), S Kam Chancellor (quad), WR Kris Durham (hamstring)
PROBABLE: TE Zach Miller (knee), DT Anthony Hargrove (hamstring)
MOLLY’S PICK (2-2). THIS WEEK: NYG
While Molly is like a chameleon who can fit in anywhere (well except at Petco when she has a grooming appointment), she’s happiest when she’s on her home turf, where she has free reign of the house and seems to find a new hiding spot every week. And why not? At home she has everything she needs, including her bed, her toys, her food, and her “pack” — just like the Giants, who have everything they need at home for a big win.