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All-22 review: Observations from Giants vs. Ravens

What can we learn from a look back at the game?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants
Sterling Shepard flies through the air after being hit Sunday.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

What does the film tell us about Sunday’s 27-23 victory by the New York Giants over the Baltimore Ravens? Having had a chance to review the All-22 tape, let’s discuss some observations.

As always, I remind you that I’m not a scout. I’m not going to give you intricate details of each play. These are general observations. I hope you enjoy.

Let’s talk about Olivier Vernon

Vernon, dealing with a bad left wrist, has increasingly switched sides with Jason Pierre-Paul, lining up on the left. Against the Ravens, all of the 71 snaps Vernon took were from the left side.

That’s quite a change for a player who said he had never played the left with the Miami Dolphins, and it’s not strategic. At least not in a matchup sense. Watch Vernon and he rarely uses that left hand when he engages a blocker, pretty much only when he absolutely has to. Being on the left allows him to make initial contact with his right hand, and often to avoid using the left entirely.

The Giants will minimize it, and Vernon probably won’t say much about it, but there is something very wrong with Vernon’s wrist.

By the way, you still have to give Vernon credit for effort. With the Giants trailing 10-0 on Sunday Vernon made three straight plays to stop a Baltimore drive that might have put the game out of reach for the Giants. He can still be a force, especially when the play goes outside of him.

Odell’s game-winning touchdown

I know you can’t get enough of Odell Beckham Jr.’s game-winning touchdown. Watch the play above and notice the impact of the shallow out run by tight end Larry Donnell. The Ravens are in man-to-man coverage and Donnell’s route takes safety Eric Weddle out of the middle of the field, right where Manning wants to hit Beckham. It also causes Weddle and the Ravens cornerback to trip over each other, leaving Beckham with only defensive back Lardarius Webb to beat en route to the end zone. That, as we know, was no contest.

DRC’s pass interference call

I re-watched that play several times, and I have no idea how the NFL can defend making a pass interference call against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. There is a little bit of hand-fighting with the receiver 10-15 yards down the field, but that goes on — and is allowed — all the time. When DRC knocks the pass down, and when the flag is thrown, there is a yard or two of separation between Rodgers-Cromartie and the intended receiver.

I truly dislike talking about officiating, blaming officiating, etc. In this case, though, there’s no way I can buy whatever explanation Dean Blandino comes up with for this call.

More observations

  • Premier pass rusher Terrell Suggs played 48 snaps before leaving the game with an injury suffered when he sacked Eli Manning, almost all of those lined up against Giants’ left tackle Ereck Flowers. He beat Flowers on the sack, and Flowers surrendered a total of three hurries on 50 pass-blocking snaps. That’s pretty good if you ask me. The second-year tackle still seems to drop his head on occasion, but to my eyes he did a good enough job on Sunday. On Beckham’s 75-yard touchdown, by the way, Suggs took an inside rush. Flowers met him, then rode him through the pocket and out of the play. That score doesn’t happen without excellent work from the left tackle.
  • I was waiting to see if the Giants would move receivers around more Sunday and vary who was in the slot in an effort to create matchups. They did not. Odell Beckham lined up in the slot only five times by my count. Victor Cruz, once a pre-eminent slot guy, never lined up there vs. the Ravens.
  • Will Beatty? The Giants have told you everything you need to know about their belief — or really lack of belief — in the veteran offensive tackle. First and foremost, Bobby Hart starts at right tackle with Marshall Newhouse out. Second, in two short-yardage situations where a jumbo tight end might have been called for on Sunday, the Giants chose to put wide receiver Dwayne Harris in the game, and in the backfield, as an extra blocker, rather than Beatty or Brett Jones.
  • I have to defend Eli Manning on his second interception. When Manning throws the ball, Sterling Shepard has outside leverage on Baltimore cornerback Tavon Young and looks for all the world like he’s headed for a big play. Then, Young and Shepard get their feet tangled and the ball gets picked off.
  • The Giants’ linebackers are, gasp, pretty good. We know about the game-changing play made by Jonathan Casillas. Well, Devon Kennard, Kelvin Sheppard and Keenan Robinson all played well against Baltimore. Kennard is a force against the run, Robinson is the best coverage linebacker the Giants have had in a long time, and Sheppard did a good job in the middle against the Ravens.
  • The roughing the passer penalty against Owamagbe Odighizuwa in the closing seconds was inarguable. Owa takes at least two steps after Joe Flacco released the ball before hitting him.