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Re-Focused: Cowboys @ Giants, Week 17


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Re-Focused: Cowboys @ Giants, Week 17

January 4th, 2012 | Author: Sam Monson


Divisional games with meaning in Week 17, this will please the NFL brass. In an odd game in the pouring rain at the New Meadowlands Stadium, the Giants jumped out to a huge lead, making it to the half up 21-0. It looked as if the Cowboys simply hadn’t turned up and it was going to be a complete walkover, but then Dallas began to make a game of it.

The Cowboys pegged the game back with some scores and some defensive stands of their own before Tony Romo threw a pick just as it seemed the momentum was back with Dallas. The Giants were able to control the game from that point onwards and closed it out 31-14 to win the NFC East in a season where none of the teams stood out.

For Dallas, it’s back to the drawing board again, and an offseason of heat on owner and general manager, Jerry Jones, for a roster with plenty of issues. New York, on the other hand, rolls into the playoffs on a run of form, and will not be easy outs.

Dallas – Three Performances of Note

Nightmare on Newman Street

You’ll find worse performances at corner if you really search, but there aren’t many more embarrassing than the day turned in by Terence Newman this week. Newman wound up with a -3.7 grade overall for the game and a -5.0 in coverage. He was targeted nine times and allowed eight receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown. What will probably live in his memory the most about the day was that he was hurdled by two different players, Bear Pascoe and Henry Hynoski. Things got so bad that a third Giants player attempted to hurdle Newman, but by this time he had learned his lesson, stood tall, and made the tackle. To crown a wretched outing, he managed to injure himself in the act of diving forlornly to try and bring down a sprinting Hakeem Nicks, having been beaten in coverage yet again. Newman is going to have all offseason to think about this performance and it’s not going to slip from mind quickly.

Flipping Tackles

Last season, Doug Free played extremely well at left tackle, but always seemed a far more natural right tackle and was a far more punishing run blocker than he was pass protector. When Dallas drafted Tyron Smith it seemed a logical step to move Free to the right side and start the athletic and quick-footed rookie on the left. For some reason they elected to keep Free where he was and play Smith on the right, seemingly ending up with a pair of tackles playing on the wrong side of the line. Smith has been an excellent pass protector over the season, and ended this game with a +1.4 PFF grade while Free on the other side was less successful, winding up with a -2.1. The big left tackle surrendered a pair of sacks and two more pressures, while Smith on the other side was responsible for three pressures, but didn’t allow his quarterback to hit the ground. An offseason swapping of sides would seem like a logical, albeit late, move.

Some Defensive Studs

It wasn’t all bad for Dallas. In fact, aside from the torturing of Newman, the Dallas defense actually played pretty well, with a few real standouts. Sean Lee (+4.2) seems only to be getting better in the middle for Dallas, which should scare the rest of the NFC East given how good he already looks. Lee was constantly around the line of scrimmage making plays, including a stuff on fourth down late in the third quarter. DeMarcus Ware (+4.0) and Jason Hatcher (+5.3) both chipped in with fine performances of their own, combining for three sacks, two knockdowns, and four more pressures on the day. Kenyon Coleman (+4.3) also contributed with one of the most violent rip moves you will ever see to get pressure past Kareem McKenzie (Q1-02:14).

New York – Three Performances of Note

The Real Diehl Needs Help

The Giants can’t continue to be a viable force for long without a significant upgrade at left tackle. David Diehl isn’t cut out for life on an island, and in this game his -6.9 grade came from surrendering a pair of sacks, a pair of knockdowns and three more pressures on the quarterback. To make matters worse, he didn’t make up for it in the run game either, surrendering a pair of defensive stops to his defenders. Diehl was joined in struggling on the other side by Kareem McKenzie (-4.4) who surrendered three pressures but was equally poor against the run. He also had the ignominy of being rag-doll-tossed to the ground by Kenyon Coleman’s devastating rip move discussed earlier. Nobody on the Giants’ O-line played particularly well in this game (Chris Snee came the closest with a +0.1 grade), but the biggest issues were around the edge, the two spots where a quarterback can least afford to be finding pressure.

The Haitian Sensation

I’ve loved that nickname since I heard an announcer break it out during his college bowl game for South Florida, but Jason Pierre-Paul (+3.4) has been earning it this season and then some. This game saw him notch yet another sack, as well as a knockdown and four more pressures as he was a constant irritant for the Dallas offense. He seemed to have Romo nervous in the pocket for much of the game, causing him to take off just at the threat of pressure, even when his O-line had it under control. Pierre-Paul wasn’t even on the ballot for the fan vote of the Pro Bowl and yet he made the selection anyway, that is the kind of impact that coaches and players know he has had this season. His 59 snaps on defense were 13 more than any other Giants defensive lineman.

Nicks and Cruz are a formidable duo

We finally saw the real Hakeem Nicks (+2.2) in this game, having seemingly banished the dropsies that had been plaguing him in recent weeks. Cruz (+1.7) on other hand, we have been seeing for weeks as a real weapon, and he continued to dominate in this game, making a mockery of more than one Dallas defender in coverage. Nicks made several nice plays in the game, scoring a touchdown on an end zone fade, but also making a nice move earlier in the game against press coverage to get open down field (Q1-02:54), and then breaking loose across the field to extend the drive and get into scoring range before his touchdown reception. Cruz, as we know, has been on a tear recently, but the reason his grade isn’t higher is that he continues to have more disconnects with his quarterback, Eli Manning, than any receiver I can remember in recent memory. Every game you will see at least one or two plays where Manning expects Cruz to do one thing and he does another. In this game it cost them a simple first down when Manning expected his receiver to settle down in the middle of the field in between zones and Cruz continued his crossing pattern. When these two sort out their miscommunications they will be unstoppable.

Game Notes

- Giants Receiver Devin Thomas saw one snap in the game, and caught a pass on it for 14 yards and a first down.

- Throwing at Terence Newman didn’t yield a perfect quarterback rating, but at 155.8, it very nearly did.

- Tony Romo’s QB rating without pressure: 124.3, with pressure: 46.8

PFF Game Ball

Despite the miscommunications with Eli Manning, Victor Cruz has been a sensation this season and was a huge difference maker in this game. His long touchdown run seemed to demoralize the Cowboys before they had really gotten into the game.

Edited by Rave
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Re-Focused: Giants @ Cowboys, Week 14

December 13th, 2011 | Author: Khaled Elsayed


Exhausting. Fun. Unbelievable.

However you want to describe the New York Giants rollercoaster victory over the Dallas Cowboys, it doesn’t change what was a quite remarkable contest to cap off a good day of football. Full of big plays, blown coverages and lead changes, this was the kind of game that didn’t just live up to the billing; it surpassed it.

I’ll get to the most impressive aspects of the game in detail shortly. Looking past the individual performances for a second, this game was as big a statement as either could make – that it happened in all three phases made it all the more memorable. What if Tony Romo connects with Miles Austin when he was open deep with 2:25 to go in the fourth quarter? What if the Dallas defense doesn’t surrender two late touchdowns? What if Dan Bailey got his kick over the outstretched arm of Jason Pierre-Paul?

They didn’t, and instead the Giants defense got Eli Manning the ball back with 2:12 left and he was able to lead one of the great comebacks of the 2011. That seems as good a place to start as any as we look at the key performances of note on both sides here.

New York Giants – Three Performances of Note

Magnificent Manning

Sometimes you go into a game that has been played and think perhaps more of a story has been made of something than it warrants. This was not one of those cases, as there simply aren’t enough superlatives to describe just how good Eli Manning (+7.3 passing) was. The Giants QB overcame some horrendous drops (each of his leading receivers dropped significant balls) to orchestrate a miraculous 12 point comeback that will live long in the memory of any fan of top notch quarterback play. Manning consistently beat coverage regardless of how good it was, with superb ball placement connecting with receivers whether he stepped into a throw or was throwing it off his back foot. Normally I’d pick a single play which exemplified how a player did in the game. However, if you haven’t seen this game, nothing other than watching every throw Manning makes will do his efforts proper justice.

Stepping Up but Still A Ways To Go

There’s no denying that Jason Pierre-Paul (+1.7 defense, +2.0 special teams) is a difference maker. He added another two sacks to his season total, which stands at 12 after this game, forced a fumble with some great hustle and, of course, came up big with the blocked field goal that saw the Giants home. He still needs to focus on generating a more consistent pass rush even though he got the better of Doug Free for two sacks who gave up nothing else to the sophomore stud. The body of work doesn’t quite match the highlight reels yet (it would be near impossible in that regard), but the Giants fans should be very excited at the prospect of getting even more out of the extremely talented sophomore.

Left Sided Woes

If you’re a fan of the combination of David Diehl (-5.2) and Mitch Petrus (-3.9) you may want to look away now. Perhaps the two had an inkling of how good Manning would be and so they figured they’d make it more of a challenge. On a serious note, the duo were turnstiles against an active Dallas front that picked up a hit and 11 pressures on them. Diehl was particularly bad, with the hit he gave up to Victor Butler with 1:12 to go in the first half symbolizing the kind of day he had. Struggling at left guard, and struggling at left tackle here (despite being the starting left tackle from 2007 through 2010) for you have to wonder how much time he has left starting in the NFL.

Dallas – Three Performances of Note

A Star On the Rise

Regardless of how Dallas’ season ends they will feel reassured in the knowledge that they’ve found a stud of a tackle for the future in the shape of the youngest player in the league, Tyron Smith (+2.9). The rookie right tackle has been exceptional all year and continued his excellent year by giving up just a single pressure, in addition to a +1.6 run blocking grade. It’s rare to see a tackle come out and play so well, but Smith has been just that good. A move to the left side next year will surely provide him with some new challenges. If he handles the transition in the same manner that he’s handled his move to the NFL coming from Southern California I’ll be betting on him to succeed.

Coverage Concerns

It could have been a very different game had Dallas executed a little bit better on defense. First, you have the dropped interception by Terence Newman with 10:42 left in the first quarter. Second, you compound missed opportunities with a number of costly blown coverages (most notably the Mario Manningham touchdown). Newman (-1.7) was as big a culprit as any, even if his four receptions allowed on 10 balls thrown at him may appear to indicate a good game. In reality, he benefited from two dropped passes and he would have given up a first down on every reception he allowed. One of the reasons that Manning was as good as he was is that he was able to exploit the flaws in the Cowboys secondary throughout the game.

Persistent Pass Rush

The Cowboys didn’t walk away with any sacks but don’t be fooled. They pressured the quarterback far more consistently than their Giants counterparts did. Tormentors in chief were DeMarcus Ware (+3.8 pass rush) and Anthony Spencer (+2.6 pass rush) who picked up 11 pressures and one batted pass between them. Ware won’t be happy with the two defensive offsides penalties he gave up, nor his substandard work in run defense. You can’t fault Ware or Spencer for putting Manning in tricky positions during the game. Instead you have to credit how at ease Manning looked dealing with the pressure.

Games Notes

- The Giants only sent five men or more on seven occasions – one of which resulted in a touchdown.

- By contrast the Cowboys sent five or more 20 times, with the Giants not taking any sacks and picking up 234 yards in the air when they did.

- It’s something that doesn’t really show up, but for fans of fullback versus linebacker confrontations watch the first half and pay particular attention to how Henry Hynoski and Bradie James went at each other. That was a good contest that Hynoski (+1.7) won.

PFF Game Ball

One Man(ning) goes down, another steps up. Lets be clear here…Dallas sent quality pressure the Giants way but regardless of whether the coverage was good or bad, Eli Manning made the key plays. That was the difference in this one

Edited by Rave
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