For the final time this season, let’s review a New York Giants game in our traditional “Kudos & Wet Willies” style. A 38-13 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers put an end to the Giants’ season on Sunday. Let’s look at the good and the bad performances by the Giants.
Kudos to ...
Landon Collins — Collins made big plays and big hits all over the field in both run support and pass defense, finishing with nine tackles, a sack and two passes defensed. The only thing he couldn’t do was prevent the end-of-half Hail Mary. That, though, was more of a total failure by the entire secondary and not something that can or should be blamed on an individual. Terrific work overall by Collins.
Tavarres King — I mentioned this on Sunday night, but with a 41-yard touchdown catch and a team-high 73 receiving yards King showed that he probably should have had a role in the Giants’ receiving corps long before now.
Will Tye — Caught four passes for a season-high 66 yards. His 51-yard catch-and-run down the seam is the kind of play the Giants waited all season to get from a tight end.
Eli Manning — Some people aren’t going to like this one, but in my view Manning deserves it. He started the game 7-of-11 and would have been 11-of-11 if not for a pair of drops each by Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, two of which cost the Giants touchdowns. Even the generally anti-Manning folks at Pro Football Focus were complementary of Manning’s performance, pointing out that he was on target on 31 of his 44 throws and saying that “he could legitimately look at those around him with accusing eyes.”
In my view, “Playoff Eli” showed up. The offensive players around him, though, did not raise their level of play the way he did.
Wet Willies to ...
Odell Beckham Jr. — Beckham was one of those players who, obviously, was unable to raise his level of play — or even play to his own normal standards — when the Giants needed it. He was officially “credited” with three dropped passes, a season high. His two first-quarter drops cost the Giants at least 10 points, perhaps 14. A 14-0 lead instead of a 6-0 one could have made a huge difference.
We can argue about whether the fourth quarter third-and-11 pass that Beckham was unable to catch was really a drop. In my view, it was. The ball wasn’t perfectly thrown by Manning, but Beckham is a super star wide receiver who was WIDE open, got his hands on the ball and earned his reputation making plays more difficult than that. Drop or not, it’s a play your star player MUST make in a critical playoff situation.
On the big playoff stage for the first time, Beckham came up small. For the record, I know it had nothing to do with his trip to Miami, but that still ends up being a bad look. I could also care less about him punching a hole in a wall, except to say I’m glad he didn’t break his hand.
Bobby Rainey — What on earth was Rainey doing on that third-quarter kickoff? When the veteran running back/return man had a major brain cramp and stepped out of bounds while fielding a kickoff at the 3-yard line the score was 21-13. The Giants were never competitive in the game after that boneheaded play. All he had to do was let the ball go. It was either going to go out of bounds, giving the Giants the ball at the 40-yard line, or skip into the end zone giving them possession at the 25. Awful.
Brad Wing — The Giants punter picked an awful time to have a bad game. He averaged just 39.0 yards (32.8 net) on eight punts. Wing hit a 35-yard punt from the Giants’ 20-yard line and a 37-yarder with the Giants punting from their own 8-yard line. He also had a 50-yard punt returned 23 yards.
Olivier Vernon — Aaron Rodgers dropped back 46 times. The Giants sacked him five times. None of those, and only two pressures, came from Vernon. Perhaps part of that was by design, trying to keep Rodgers from escaping the pocket. I don’t know that. Still, the Giants need more from Vernon than two hurries, no hits and one measly tackle on the day.
Ereck Flowers — Pro Football Focus has Flowers responsible for a sack of Manning, a hit and four hurries in 47 pass-blocking snaps. I’ve got him as worse than that. Clay Matthews beat Flowers for the sack/fumble in the second half and Julius Peppers came off a Flowers block for a sack early in the game. I have to re-watch the tape, but it seemed like most of the pressure Manning felt during the game came from Flowers’ side.
Many of my post-game thoughts were expressed in the “Five things we learned” post on Sunday night. With a night to think about it, however, there are perhaps a few more points that need to be raised.
- Three times on Sunday the Giants faced fourth down and six yards or less in Green Bay territory. All three times coach Ben McAdoo chose to punt, and on all three occasions the Giants pinned the Packers inside their own 20-yard line. Initially, I supported those decisions but now I’m not so sure. McAdoo was among the most aggressive coaches in the league in going for it on fourth down this season, and the Giants were 9-of-17 on fourth-down conversions of six yards or less. Playing field position might have been the smart thing to do, but in a game where you had to know you would need to score points, going for it one one or two of those occasions might have been the right thing to do.
- The bigger issue with anything McAdoo did on Sunday was the failed third-and-1 run call that gave the ball back to the Packers and set up the Hail Mary. Why are you giving the ball to Bobby Rainey? Why is Rainey even in the game? He’s your third option, a small guy, he’s cold because he just got in the game and you give him the ball on one of the biggest plays of the game? Inexcusable.
- The Giants really missed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who went out after just two snaps. His replacements, Coty Sensabaugh and Trevin Wade, each gave up touchdown passes. I’m not faulting Sensabaugh, who had fantastic coverage on Davante Adams and was simply beaten by a better throw, but it has to be noted. You also have to wonder if DRC could/would have been able to do something about that Hail Mary.