NYSOS is happy to announce that we have new, part-time, guest writer, Todd Giannattasio. Todd has been a Giants season ticket holder for twenty years (!!) and has never missed a home game. Todd will provide content on the Giants, Rangers, and Knicks. Without further delay..here is Todd’s first contribution to New York State of Sports..
The first home playoff game at Metlife Stadium (that will probably be the last time I use that name, I’m a purist) now officially belongs to the Giants, played and won by the big brother of New York football. Going into Sunday’s game against the Falcons I thought the Giants were going to win in one of two ways:
- They got out to a quick lead like they did against Dallas and the Jets
- It was a tight game in the high 20s and Eli finished with a Touchdown drive to end the game
I was wrong on both accounts and couldn’t be happier. In a dominating performance on both sides of the ball, Eli Manning went on to score all the points in the game (23/32, 277 yards, 3 TDs, 129.3 QB Rating), including the two points they spotted the Falcons to start on an intentional grounding call in the end zone. Credit a solid edge blitz by the Falcons on that play to force the arrant throw, unfortunately for the dirty birds, that would be there only bright spot of the day. The Giants’ offensive line was solid and the running game was strong, determined in hitting the holes, dragging defenders and getting the extra yard they hadn’t been reaching for most of the season (31 carries for a total of 172 yards for the team). Brandon Jacobs has been looking inspired in recent weeks and keeps improving for the first time since I can remember (14 carries for 92 yards). Probably because his agent pointed out that his days with the Giants (and as a primary back anywhere in the league) were numbered if he continued to play like a twelve year old girl instead of the rhinosaurus-gazelle hybrid that garnered him all that attention in his prime years.
Special teams did a decent job, but had more penalties than any coach wants to see. As Coughlin mentioned in his post-game conference, those are mistakes that’ll drive a coach crazy. Fortunately those plays are easy to look passed when you play at a championship level for 3 quarters and stifle any glimmers of hope in your opponent with not one, but two critical fourth and one stops.
The Giants showed what their defensive line is capable of when fully healthy and motivated. Which is also partly upsetting that they can’t get up to play like this all the time, for instance against the pathetic Redskins (twice). But when the season’s on the line, they’ve shown over the last month they can step their game up and get it done.
Although they shut down any type of dynamic receiver skills I thought were going to flash at least a couple of times from Roddy White or Julio Jones (116 combined yards), I credit the line’s pressure on Matt Ryan and constantly stuffing Michael Turner at the line of scrimmage (15 carries for 41 yards) more than lock down coverage. This is what scares me against the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is just as good on the run as he is in the pocket and if his receivers are able to get some separation, we’re looking at some big plays.
Luckily, we know Eli has the patience and swagger to punch right back at the Packers and the Giants’ receivers have the ability to break loose once they get the ball in their hands. The Packers offense is obviously what has made them shine all year (a league-leading 35 points a game) and the Giants showed in their regular season match up that they can go mano-a-mano, and that was before the defense got healthy and decided to start playing up to their talent level. Very similarly – sorry I can’t resist – to the match up against the Patriots in 2007 that they ended up losing, but we all now how that ultimately turned out for the G-Men. And although there’s only 20 something players left on the team, the mentality is still strong in the locker room that this squad can overcome any adversity on the field, especially now that Eli has emerged and put the walk behind his preseason talk of being an upper echelon quarterback (4th in yards – 4,933; 6th in TDs – 29; And brought his INTs down from 25 last year to just 16 this year).
With the Giants going to Lambeau as a big underdog (Vegas has the Packers pegged as eight point favorites), I’m sure Coughlin will be using that as bulletin board material to get the team focused on their Us-Against-The-World/Chip-On-Our-Shoulder determination that has so often lead to their success. For whatever reason, this team can’t play consistently well when home or expected to win. This weekend they have both of those success factors on the right side for a win. Now if someone can start sending Brandon Jacobs hate mail addressed from Wisconsin to get that hate-fed power running like he’s had since the first game against Dallas, the Giants have a great chance at coming out on top of the Cheeseheads.
My extremely bias pick is the Giants 34 – 24.
Todd Giannattasio is a blog contributor for Gold Star Games, a leading tailgate gear supplier. Todd also contributes simple receipes for guys at Easy Guy Cooking.