Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Play Ugly, Win Ugly Formula Works for Giants

GIANTS 21/BENGALS 20

One thing has become commonplace for these 2016 New York Giants, they know how to win ugly. Monday night was no exception. The Giants found a way to hold-off the incredibly putrid Cincinnati Bengals 21-20 to push their winning streak to four games. At 6-3, the Giants are firmly in control of one of the  two NFC Wild Card slots. Let's look back.

Early Fireworks: It looked like we were in store for a shootout at MetLife Stadium. The Giants opened the game on a thunderous 8-play 80-yard drive that ate up 3:55 to take a 7-0 lead. The Benglas quickly responded with a 3-play 80-yard scoring drive that culminated in a Andy Dalton touchdown pass to A.J. Green. The Bengals and Giants made it look real easy -- as the game had 45-38 written all over it at this point. Little did we know that the defenses would step it up.

Eli Manning struggles: It was not the best of days for Manning and the Giants offense. After their long opening touchdown drive, they went into a collective shell with their next four possessions ending in either a punt, a turnover on downs or an interception. It felt like the Greg Lewis drop on third and seven with 7:52 to go in the first quarter hung over the entire unit as the just couldn't get in sync.

As for Manning he was either missing guys or throwing floaters that could have easily been picked off had the Bengals played the ball better.

Any form of offensive brilliance was few and far between. The Giants late touchdown to close out the first half came on a Manning slant to Odell Beckham Jr. with 1:17 to play. New York would not score again until there was 14:05 to go in the fourth quarter.

Manning finished the night 28 of 44 for 240 yards with three touchdowns (the good) and two interceptions (the bad). Overall, it was an uneven night for Manning and the offense.

Giants Defense Steps up Big: With the offense sputtering once again to find itself, the Giants defense came up huge for the third straight week.  After the Benglas scored on their first two drives to start the second half to take a 20-14 lead, the Giants never allowed Cincinnati to get past mid-field. Of their final 23 plays of the game, the Bengals gained only 37 yards, with the Giants putting tremendous pressure on Dalton.

It seemed like every single time he dropped back to throw, Dalton was trying to avoid the Giants pass rush. The combination of Olivier Vernon, Damion Harrison, Jonathan Casillas and Jason Pierre-Paul were too much to handle for the Bengals offensive line. Harrison and Vernon both had big sacks of Dalton on the final Cincy drive of the day to ice the win. The turning point of the game came on Landon Collins interception, which came shortly after the Giants reclaimed the lead 21-20.

Giants Running Game Finally Shows Up: Holy smokes the Giants running game actually came to life!! The Giants have taken a lot of heat for not committing to the running game, and Rashad Jennings is probably the worst starting tailback in the League, but when it mattered on Monday, he got the job done. Jennings ran for 87-yards on 15 carries. He had a huge 24-yard run during the Giants game-winning scoring drive that pushed Big Blue into the red zone. He even had runs of nine yards and 25-yards to move the chains and end the game.

What's Up Next for Big Blue? The Giants host the Chicago Bears on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Bears (2-7) are just awful. Jay Cutler has been uninspiring and the Giants are in a position to make some serious noise in the month of November.

What to look for: Don't be shocked to see the Giants at 8-3 when the dust settles for a long Thanksgiving Day weekend. The Giants get the Bears this week and the Browns on the road next week. If the Giants get these two wins it will set them up for a very difficult December that has all three divisional opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers and first place Detroit Lions.

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