Atlanta 34 – Giants 0: Hits, Misses & Musings
The human will is quite a powerful, yet underrated tool.
Imagine this. If you want something badly enough –I mean REALLY want something–and you work toward achieving it, chances are high that it’s going to come.
It’s called being proactive, and that’s precisely what the Falcons were in their 34-0 thrashing of the Giants Sunday.
The Giants? Week after week, we hear about how the next game is the most important. Yet week after week, we never know what team is going to show up – and we all know what showed up last week.
So for anyone who thought the Falcons’ won-loss record was a by-product of luck or a soft schedule, take note: they put the defending Super bowl Champions in their place simply because they wanted it more.
The Giants? I’m not sure what they wanted, but I do know this much. If they aspire to make the playoffs, it’s time to stop acting as if they’re not worried and show a greater sense of urgency in these last two games.
There weren’t that many to speak of, but there were a few, and I’ll start with one of the underrated ones, receiver Domenik Hixon. You might not have noticed but Hixon finished as the team’s leader in receptions with five and receiving yards with 80. In fact Hixon leads all receivers (and I include tight end Martellus Bennett) in terms of reliability in that he’s caught a team high 68% of the passes targeted for him (based on 50 or more pass targets).
That’s some clutch performances by Hixon, who in this week’s game also made a wise decision on his lone punt return to call for a fair catch and who otherwise made a smart move by letting another punt bounce into the end zone, except a penalty moved the ball back from the 20 to the 10.
I tip my cap to Falcons head coach Mike Smith. He could have easily run up the score on the Giants but instead took the high road as the game wound down, leaving roughly 10 more points on the field. Something tells me that a certain NFC East opponent might not have been that gracious of a winner.
And speaking of the Falcons, whether you like it or not, their defense deserves a world of credit for the shutout they pitched this week, especially in the second half in getting the Giants offense off the field quickly. New York had exactly 7:28 worth of possession in the last two quarters – unheard of in today’s NFL and a huge reason why the Giants were so soundly beaten.
I could probably write a book here but I’ll mention a few as I need to save it for the subscription product.
I get what head coach Tom Coughlin was trying to do with the first of his fourth quarter “go for it” calls, but I completely disagree with the second attempt. At that point, you go for the points, especially considering your offense was off-balance all game long.
And yes, I know Lawrence Tynes inexplicably missed a chip shot 30-yard field goal in the pristine conditions of the dome, but I firmly believe you have to play the percentages and try to come away with the sure points in that situation.
Did the defensive line bother to show up this week? Seriously, I really hate to question anyone’s effort, but the way the defensive front was pushed around was, at times, almost unbearable to watch.
What was also unbearable to watch was how the Falcons, whom were not really known for their rushing attack, managed to overcome the fact that they had a pair of ailing receivers in Harry Douglas and Roddy White by running the ball against a Giants defensive front that, for the fourth week in a row, gave up over 100 yards on the ground.
So if you thought that the Falcons’ offensive game plan was to go after the injury-plagued Giants defensive secondary non—stop, sorry, you guessed wrong as the Falcons ran 38 times and passed just 28.
I thought tight end Martellus Bennett’s blocking this week was inconsistent, particularly in his technique. He also appeared to be the guilty party that drew the illegal procedure flag as well. While he had a handful of nice seal blocks, the consistency factor has been an issue of late and with time ticking away, that consistency needs to be achieved and in a hurry.
Anyone notice how this week, David Diehl was given a lot of help blocking on passing downs (and yet he was one of the guilty parties in the lone sack against Eli Manning). As I wrote a few weeks ago in a game review, when an offense need to constantly provides double team help to one of its linemen, they might as well be playing with ten men, and that is a concern.
After last week’s heroics on special teams, I didn’t like how David Wilson, on the opening kickoff, too it from six yards deep in the end zone and tried to run it out. He only managed to get to the 13 for what was a 19-yard gain. That was a poor decision by the rookie who perhaps was looking to continue riding the wave of last week’s showing. Thankfully though, Wilson was smarter on his other kickoff returns.
Speaking of Wilson, if you missed it, the rookie had some issues with pass blocking this week. On one play, he was knocked over by a charging defender who hurried an Eli Manning pass. This is the reason it took Wilson so long to get on the field – if a guy can’t pass block, he’s not going to get many touches.
Mixed showing this week from left tackle Will Beatty, who pretty much held his own against defensive end John Abraham and who also did a nice job of opening up some major holes for the running game. Where Beatty came up short, though, was in short yardage situations, where he was unable to get any sort of push.
The Falcons finished with 139 rushing yards. As mentioned before, that was the fourth week in a row the Giants failed to stop the run and the sixth time in their last eight games that an opponent has run for over 100 yards. Overall, the Giants are 3-5 in games in which they surrender 100 or more rushing yards.
I mentioned David Wilson’s adventures with pass blocking before. What surprised me quite a bit is that the Giants didn’t use fullback Henry Hynoski more for that role. While I realize that at some point the coaches have to let Wilson earn his lumps, the few assignments that he blew were more of a result of a lack of strength, I think, than of not knowing what to do.
And with Hynoski having shown that he can take a hand-off here and there as well as work out of the backfield AND take on a charging defensive end or linebacker in the pass protection role, I found it a bit surprising that he wasn’t on the field more in pass protection situations.
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You want to know why Eli Manning continues not to get the respect that Tom Brady does? Look no further than this game.
While every quarterback has an off day, this year when Manning’s been bad, he’s REALLY been bad, and he’s helped to drag the offense down with him. While I understand that his protection was not the best, the fact remains that here it is, Week 15, and he’s still not on the same page with his receivers, he’s still making some poor throws, and he’s still making questionable decisions tat just shouldn’t be happening at this point in the season from a veteran quarterback.
When Manning is good, he’s very good -– see last week’s pasting against the Saints. But the next time someone questions whether Manning is an élite quarterback, just remember these inconsistencies and ask yourself when was the last time Brady had a stink bomb showing like what Manning had.
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Anyone notice that Ramses Barden showed up as “Did Not Play” on the stat sheet and was not credited with any offensive or special teams snaps? Why dress him if he’s not going to contribute?
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While we’re doing a check of my eyesight, did anyone else think that receiver Hakeem Nicks looked like he had trouble cutting? Maybe that’s the reason why he and his quarterback look so uncoordinated, which leads me to the age-old question – if a guy is struggling to be effective doing things such as timing patterns, why is he even out there?
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Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul opined that the team had a good week in practice. I sure would hate to know what a bad week in practice looks like. Then again, I’ll never know since the team part of practice is closed to the media.
THE FINAL WORD
So where does this leave the Giants? They have to win their last two games if they are to enter the post-season tournament a Wild Card team, the only real hope they have considering they tossed away the division by not worrying about the losses as they piled up.
Will the Giants rise up (to borrow the Falcons’ catch phrase this season)?
Well last year the Giants suffered a bad loss to the Redskins in Week 15 before running the table, so they have shown it can be done.
I need, however, to see and hear the anger though on their faces and in their voices. I need to be convinced they really have that sense of urgency because as I said earlier, this laid back attitude that some of the players have shown is very disturbing.
I’m not suggesting panic, but the marathon is coming to a close quickly. Show that you want it and stop talking about it.
Or as Tom Coughlin likes to say: Talk is cheap; play the game.
It’s really that simple.