Sunday, December 18, 2016

Giants D paving way to playoffs with win over Lions


This Giants defense continues to put up scary numbers in the NFL. The league's Number One ranked defense over the previous five weeks, the Giants dominated the Detroit Lions on Sunday 17-6. With the win the Giants move a win shy of clinching a playoff berth -- a feat that seemed so unlikely weeks ago when this team was struggling to find an identity when they were beating up on bad football teams.

Let's break it down!

The Giants D is for real: Obviously. The Giants defense has been one of the best units in the NFL this season, especially in the second half. The Giants held the Lions to only five yards per play, and totally flustered quarterback Matthew Stafford. While Stafford was dealing with an injured middle finger, it didn't stop the Giants from pounding the quarterback. He was hit five times, sacked once and under siege for much of the afternoon. Whenever he put up a pass that looked destined for a Lions reception, a Giant defender would step up and swat the ball away. It was a totally frustrating day for the Lions who couldn't cash in on their opportunities to score points in this game.

The Lions blew their chances: There were four different moments where the Lions could have changed their fortunes greatly on Sunday, but came up snake eyes each time. First Matthew Stafford appeared to have Golden Tate wide open for touchdown down the right sideline, but cornerback Eli Apple snuck in underneath and slapped the ball away to force the Lions to settle for a field goal.

Later in the second quarter, the Lions were rolling toward a touchdown, but running back Zach Zenner fumbled the football in the end zone; Giants' Olivier Vernon recovered the ball for a touchback.

Ironically on the Giants ensuing possession after the Lions fumble, they fumbled themselves when Shane Vereen lost control of the football near the end zone. The Lions had three guys around the ball, but none of them could recover it, as the Giants kept possession, and turned that bit of good fortune into a field goal to make it 10-3.

The last moment of misfortune to bite the Lions came at the start of the third quarter when they drove all the way to the Giants 18-yard line, only to stall and settle for a field goal to make it a 10-6 game.

Eli Manning was solid: After a rough number of weeks, Eli Manning was crisp on Sunday. He opened up the game a perfect seven-for-seven in pass attempts, and led the Giants on an inspiring 10-play 75-yard touchdown drive to open the game. Overall, Manning threw for 201 yards on 20-of-28 passing with two touchdowns. It was his best game in weeks, and the best day for the offense in some time.

Justin Pugh Returns: The Giants got a shot in the arm on Sunday when left guard Justin Pugh returned from injury. His presence helped the Giants set the tone offensively with 114 yards rushing on the day. He also helped solidify the blindside for Manning.

What's Next: A Thursday night extravaganza in Philadelphia. The Giants need the win in order to clinch a playoff berth. The Eagles would love to ruin the fun, and have played solid football at times inspite of a 5-9 record. This could be tricky.

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