Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck talk in the fourth quarter - Maddie Meyer
Instant analysis following Sunday's 27-13 victory by the New York Giants over the Green Bay Packers.
Here are a few of my first thoughts following the New York Giants' 27-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
- There is no way anyone could have really believed when the Giants were 0-6 that next Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys would be an important one in the NFC East race. The Giants can't get to first place next Sunday, but they can get within a game of the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles with a victory. Players can say what they want, but this scenario was unthinkable a few weeks ago. Too bad the Washington Redskins couldn't complete their comeback. The Redskins trailed Philly 24-0 Sunday and closed within 24-16 before Robert Griffin III threw an interception to end Washington's comeback hopes.
- Why is Louis Murphy on this team? The wide receiver was the intended target when Eli Manning threw an interception late in the first half in the red zone with the Giants trying to extend a 10-3 lead. Murphy, in the game in place of Hakeem Nicks at the time, cut inside on a route and Manning threw the ball outside. Manning was visibly angry at Murphy and so was offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. After the game head coach Tom Coughlin said Murphy "made a mistake. Eli should not be charged with that" interception. Murphy compounded his mistake in the second half with a running into the kicker penalty on a fourth-and-11 in Giants' territory. The Packers went for a fake after accepting the penalty, and Spencer Paysinger bailed out the Giants by stopping M.D. Jennings a yard short of a first down.
- Mock cheer time. The Giants actually successfully completed a screen pass to a running back, with Manning hitting Andre Brown for a 12-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
- Speaking of Brown, that young man really runs hard. He carried 18 times for 66 yards, and when the Pro Football Focus numbers come out I will be interested to see how many of those yards came after contact. My guess is that more than half of Brown's yardage was gained on his own.
- The pick six by Jason Pierre-Paul was an amazing play. To jump into the passing lane, get his hands up and catch a bullet pass thrown by Scott Tolzien was an incredibly athletic feat. It left Justin Tuck "in awe." JPP wasn't much of a factor most of the afternoon, but he made an amazing, game-altering play there.
- After two games without any, the Giants hit two pass plays of at least 30 yards. Victor Cruz caught a 30-yarder and Hakeem Nicks a 35-yarder. Rueben Randle caught a 26-yard touchdown pass.
- It was obvious from the beginning that Manning was in an aggressive frame of mind. He had a 20+ yard run negated by a penalty, he threw the ball well and he was more demonstrative than he has been all season. He got after Murphy on the interception and later had words with Brandon Myers after an incomplete pass. This was a Manning the Giants need to see more of over the final six weeks.
- Sunday was a huge day for punter Steve Weatherford. Coming off one of the worst games of his career last week against the Oakland Raiders he punted five times for an average of 53 yards per kick. Weatherford admitted post-game that the season has been "frustrating, because it means so much to me
- Manning was sacked four times Sunday. The offensive line has been better, but the sacks and the amount of work Brown had to do on his own show there is still room for improvement.
- Tolzien hit three deep balls. He victimized Trumaine McBride on a 52-yard pass to Jarrett Boykin, Prince Amukamara on a 45-yard strike to James Jones and Terrell Thomas on a 29-yard throw to Jordy Nelson. I would guess Tony Romo and the Cowboys will take note when they watch film this week.
- Thank you again, Carolina Panthers. You know, it really is a shame Jon Beason can't play at the NFL level any more. He only had eight tackles, a beautiful interception, a tackle for loss, a pass defensed and a hit on Tolzien.
- Mason Crosby's 57-yard field goal for the Packers was the longest ever against the Giants and the longest in the short history of MetLife Stadium.