QB Eli Manning. A stellar performance that would have been even better if the Giants’ receivers, particularly WR Hakeem Nicks, could catch the ball. Manning was outstanding last night. We haven’t seen him that on point against a good defense since Week 2 in Dallas. I challenged him on Friday and he delivered exactly what I said this team needed. Too bad the defense didn’t have such a leader.
RG Chris Snee and LG Rich Seubert. The Giants’ running game is dependant on great guard play and they got it last night. These two were excellent in the running game.
LB Jonathan Goff. His first career INT should have been a game changer, but it wasn’t because Manning fumbled the ball right back on an ugly head-first slide. If Manning goes feet first there, the play is dead and there’s no fumble. I do think the officials made the right call on the replay challenge. Manning went down because of a bad cut, a wet field and his giving up to avoid a hit – not because of DT Brodrick Bunkley’s hand on his jersey.
DE Osi Umenyiora. Update on his stats: six sacks – four of which are forced fumbles. Hey, at least he’s efficient.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. I'll have a few thoughts on the third-and-5 draw play, but before you question this one (and I know you will), remember these numbers: 512 yards and 38 points. That's enough to win. Way plenty, actually.
WR Steve Smith. He broke Amani Toomer's single-season franchise record for receptions. And now, he has three games left to absolutely shatter it.
Eagles WR/PR DeSean Jackson. Amazing how a few character concerns can push a guy who looks like he should have been a top 10 draft pick into the second round. How did this guy get away from so many teams?
Philly QB Donovan McNabb. Funny, I wrote a story two years ago that he might have been facing the Giants for the last time as an Eagle because there was a lot of talk he’d be leaving Philly soon. Two years later, I still don’t think that talk is warranted.
Eagles QB Michael Vick. It’s amazing how much different this guy looks than he did early in the season. I knew there would be an adjustment period, but when I saw him early on, I thought it would take him more than a season to round into form. Well, he’s ahead of schedule. And when you have a guy like that at your disposal, that’s when I’m okay running this Wildcat-type stuff. The only problem is if he keeps this up, the Eagles won’t have him as their No. 2 because another team will want him as their starter this off-season. But for now, I’ve finally found a gimmick offense that’s okay by me. Never thought I’d say that.
Eagles WR Reggie Brown. This guy has been labeled a bust, but he played very, very well last night in place of the injured Jeremy Maclin, who will be out a few weeks with another foot injury. Brown had two catches for 31 yards and should have had a few more because he was open a couple of times (including twice deep) and McNabb either didn’t see him or overthrew him. He also had a terrific block on Vick’s touchdown run.
Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and his a.ssistants. I realize players are making mistakes coaches are telling them not to make, but the Eagles’ offense was able to score quickly or score slowly, play a standard scheme or play a misdirection/trickeration/Wildcat scheme, run the ball or pass the ball and, go deep or run short crossing routes. It was total domination and they appeared to be toying with the Giants. Once again, it starts at the top. And at this point, I’m continuing to wonder what kind of finish Sheridan would have to have here to save his job.
The Giants’ pass rush. Yuck.
WR Mario Manningham. You know, I can’t tell you how many times as a beat writer I do a story about something I believe will be a key to a game only to have it not even be a factor. But every now and then, this blind squirrel finds a nut like this. Manningham has got get those feet down on both would-be catches in the end zone and must start playing better football near the sidelines. And Cris Collinsworth was absolutely right on the first one: Manningham should I have pushed CB Sheldon Brown inside to show the slant and then run the fade. As Gilbride said when I asked him about Manningham’s sideline plays, one way to combat the out-of-bounds issues is with better moves and breaks off the line to create more of a buffer on the outside.
Safeties Michael Johnson and Aaron Ross. Johnson was to blame for Jackson’s touchdown. He came up to cover TE Alex Smith – he of the two catches for 22 yards this season – instead of staying deep to make sure Jackson didn’t get going. Tough to k!ll him because he’s playing out of position, but once you’re a starter, you’re under the microscope. He bit hard on a play-action fake on the Eagles’ first drive to allow Jackson’s 32-yard catch.
P Jeff Feagles. I’m always k!lling this team for playing scared of returners, but Jackson is one guy they should have been scared of kicking to.
Eagles safeties Quintin Mikell and Sean Jones. Mikell is a good player, but Sunday night wasn’t his best effort. He let Nicks off the hook twice with back-to-back illegal contact penalties, didn’t touch TE Kevin Boss when he was down after making a catch off a deflection and then missed a tackle on Nicks’ 68-yard touchdown. As for Jones, I’ve seen some horrendous tackle attempts this season, but his “tackle attempt” on WR Domenik Hixon’s TD was the worst I’ve seen. It looked like he was playing flag football there. Yeah, not a good night for safeties on either team.
I just can’t get over this third-and-5 draw play late in the game. I thought for sure that was going to be one that was changed at the line. But there was Tom Coughlin after the game fully admitting that was the play call. Your quarterback was on point, the game was a shoot-out and your running game hasn’t exactly been dominant this year. So that’s what you call? Can’t understand that. Nor can I grasp how Manning could say that was the “perfect” play call. I don’t want to hear it after you go for no gain in a spot like that.
The Giants did such a good job with the “floating” defensive front last week against the Cowboys. Sunday, they whipped it out only twice and one time sent just three rushers on the play. Somebody tell Sheridan the element of surprise and what LB/DE Clint Sintim called “organized chaos” doesn’t work unless you bring enough guys to put pressure on the other team’s line. Also, both times he called it were during the Eagles’ two-minute drill at the end of the first half. Sheridan said last week his rushers should have been in a regular line set in the two-minute drill against the Cowboys. So why was it called there?
I understand the officials have a tough job, but what would lead line judge Ron Marinucci to signal an incomplete pass from long distance when two officials closer to the play ruled Umenyiora had forced a fumble on McNabb? How could he think he had a clear view of that one? I’m sure he saw the ball go forward and thought McNabb had started his throwing motion, but often that doesn’t mean the ball wasn’t already coming loose.
Now, having said that, the Giants’ players need to pick up that ball no matter what. Former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo used to have them “scoop and score” on loose balls during practice – no matter what. That concept would have worked well in that spot. (They might still endorse the drill, but I know they don't do it nearly as much and with as much gusto as they did under Spagnuolo.)
A pass to OL Kevin Boothe? Come on. Yes, I’m sure it was game planned for OT William Beatty, but he was busy filling in for injured RT Kareem McKenzie. Sure would have been interesting to see if the more athletic Beatty could have made a play there. Also, note Jones’ half-hearted attempt to cover/knock the ball away on the pass to Boothe. Even he knew it never had a shot.
ODDS AND (TIGHT) ENDS
I was very close to ignoring the drops and giving Nicks a game ball for his positive attitude and bouncing back to make a huge play on his 68-yard TD. But I just looked down at my sheet here and saw four drops for 111 yards plus the play where he went all Sinorice Moss on us by running backward. Can’t do it, Hakeem. Sorry, pal. But good job of bouncing back strong on the TD.
I was just as close to giving Hixon a gasser for his fumbles and for allowing Jackson to get the sideline on his punt return TD. But if I’m going to absolve Nicks, how could I not absolve Hixon for a similar play?
After Nicks’ TD closed the gap to 14-10, I kind of had a feeling the Giants’ defense would come out and start forcing the issue. Instead, we got the opposite. McNabb had all day on the first play – a 23-yard pass to TE Brent Celek - and suddenly the good vibes were neutralized. That’s where you need your defense to take control of a game and the Giants just aren’t getting it right now.
LB Bryan Kehl talked in training camp about being a more physical player. He needed to be much more physical last night. He got blocked in space on Celek’s TD and later missed a tackle on Vick on a third-and-3 Vick converted.
The Eagles did a good job of getting the Giants into a nickel package and then running to the defensive right at Umenyiora for a couple of nice gains, including their second-longest run of the night – a 10-yarder. If you don’t think that was the intent, you don’t know Reid and his crew.
Ah, communication issues. Welcome back. We missed you while you were gone last week. There were several, including one on RB LeSean McCoy’s 8-yard catch in the second quarter. You could see LB Michael Boley trying to signal to Ross to cover McCoy in the flat, but Ross never got there. That should have been a TD and would have been if McCoy had turned around more quickly.
If you have a moment to go back and look at the first offensive play of the second half, watch Eagles DE Juqua Parker school Beatty. Yikes.
How many times have we see the Giants try to run up to the line and get a play off before the opponent challenges? Has it ever worked?
I wonder if RB Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot and/or ankle injuries acted up on the final play of the third quarter. He tried to bounce to the left side but appeared to flinch and looked like he got stuck in the mud there. That’s the first time in the last two weeks he looked banged-up once again. His next carry was the dreaded third-and-5. Again, no explosion. And finally, on a screen pass on the Giants’ final drive, Bradshaw couldn’t get away from DE Victor Abiamiri. We’ll have to keep an eye on that next game.
Anybody want to guess how much that little scrum at the end is going to cost C Shaun O’Hara and Eagles DE Trent Cole? I’ll say $5,000 for O’Hara and $7,500 for Cole. Let’s see if I’m right.
RB Brandon Jacobs ran with power, but the fumble is a k!ller so he got no game ball. As for his elbow patches, he said Monday he won’t be wearing them anymore. He started wearing them last week against the Cowboys. Two games with them, two fumbles, so he said he won’t be wearing them anymore. The reason he started wearing them was to protect his elbows from turf burn. He’ll explore other options, such as tape only on the back side of his arms.
Boss had a wrap on his left wrist in the locker room on Monday but said he's fine.
And finally, this is nothing new and isn’t rocket science but worth noting: see how much more effective the play-action passes are when you’re running the ball well? The Eagles’ LBs and even the DBs were charging hard and forced to slam on the brakes a few times to no avail. Gilbride wants 3 yards per carry? I say a lot more is needed.