Monday, September 19, 2016

Cruz and D Bail Out Giants from Near Disaster vs. Saints

GIANTS 16 / SAINTS 13

For the second straight week the New York Giants escaped by the hairs on their chinny chin chin. It was not pretty at MetLife Stadium on Sunday; in fact it was downright ugly as a battle ensued between two teams more interested in finding ways to lose a football game, rather than win it.

The Giants outlasted another opponent and find themselves at 2-0 on the year. Nobody said 2-0 had to come with style points, because if they did, the Giants would be in the negative column in that regard.

Eli Manning and the offense owe the defense and special teams a steak dinner, for without them a 16-13 win over the Saints wouldn't be possible. The Giants shot themselves in the foot with bad play calling, untimely penalties and turnovers all afternoon against New Orleans, yet still found a way to into the victory column.

Hence the change in culture for the Giants from last season to this season, at least for now. A year ago the Giants would have found a way to lose against New Orleans. Now, thanks to increase in personnel on the defensive side of the ball, there is a tenacity and hunger that wasn't present a year ago.

No better example then in the first quarter when the Giants screwed up a goal line situation with the ball at the New Orleans three yard line. The Giants had driven the ball 73 yards to the Saints 11-yard line, and still couldn't punch it in for six. On third and two at the three, the Giants tried to dump the ball off on a screen by Manning to Larry Donnell, but the pass floated incomplete. Instead of taking the points, and grabbing the early 3-0 lead, head coach Ben McAdoo gambled and decided to go for it on fourth and a long two, and the gamble blew up in his face.

A year ago, Tom Coughlin would have been crucified for making such a gamble. In fact, he did make such a gamble against the Jets which spearheaded a Gang Green comeback.

But, thanks to this defense the complete blowup never happened. The Giants forced the Saints and Drew Brees into a three-and-out on their next series.

On the next Giants possession, running back Shane Vereen fumbled it back to New Orleans at the Saints' 38 yard line. Result: The Giants D held the Saints to three yards and punt.

Into the second quarter, the Giants buffoonery continued on the offensive side of the ball. Manning hit Victor Cruz for a 40-yard gain to the Saints 20, but the Giants' receiver fumbled the football at the Saints 16, and New Orleans recovered.

The Giants defense didn't relent. They allowed one first down and forced New Orleans to punt the football after just 18 yards on five total plays.

Just before the end of the half, Giants special teams came up huge when Janoris Jenkins came around the corner and blocked a Saints field goal, picked up the loose ball and dashed 80-yards, uncontested into the end zone for the only touchdown of the first half. Instead of it being 3-0 Saints, it was 7-0 Giants. For the rest of the afternoon the Saints would be trying to make up for the blocked kick.

Fast forward to the fourth quarter, the Giants once again stalled deep in Saints territory, this time at the New Orleans' one-yard line. The Giants had three chances to get into the end zone for the touchdown, and each time they failed, initiating a cascade of boos from the MetLife Stadium crowd. With 8:46 to go the Giants had to settle for three points to take a 13-10 lead.

With that much time on the clock, and down only three, one would figure it would be a matter of time before Drew Brees guided the Saints into the end zone for the winning touchdown. That never transpired. After hitting Colby Fleener for 21-yards to the Saints own 46-yard line, Brees missed on his next three throws as he couldn't handle the Giants blitzing defense. While the Saints would find a way to tie this game at 13 much later in the quarter, this defensive stand was a huge win for the Gaints, and a big reason why the won the game.

Finally, as we all know, the Giants offense woke up just in time to win the football game in the waning minutes. Manning's 34-yard heave down the sideline to Victor Cruz was the bone crushing delivering the Giants offense had been waiting to deal to the Saints all day. The catch set up Josh Brown's winning field goal.

Sure the Giants are 2-0. The skies the limit of course for any team that starts off 2-0, yet for the Giants one gets the sense that this team still has a lot of work to do. Offensively the Giants have to really dig deep down and figure things out; at least the defense is up to the task.


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