Browsing Posts published by Matthew Vereb

The New York Jets won their third straight game, demonstrating the urgency needed to make a serious playoff push. New York dominated Tennessee on both sides of the ball, outgaining the overmatched Titans, 439-292. Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to dominate, tossing more three touchdown passes, while Chris Ivory turned in his first 100-yard performance in nearly two months. While New York’s offense capitalized and made plays, Tennessee’s defensive play was putrid. Defenders resorted to arm tackling ball carriers and the secondary missed countless assignments. Right before halftime, Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall connected for the easiest 69-yard touchdown in NFL history. Tennessee’s secondary forgot to cover Marshall, so Marshall caught a quick screen and ran free for an easy touchdown. This scoring play gave New York a commanding 27-0 lead before halftime and basically ended the game. On the other side of the ball, New York’s defensive line, namely Muhammad Wilkerson, was all over Marcus Mariota; Mariota was sacked five times and looked completely befuddled by New York’s defensive alignments. With Darrelle Revis back in the fold, the secondary locked down Tennesse’s middling pass catchers, giving its talented array of pass rushers to attack Mariota at will. Wilkerson had his first career three-sack game and is just 0.5 sacks away from breaking Shaun Ellis’ career record (12.5 sacks).

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The New York Jets delivered their biggest win under Todd Bowles, rallying from a 10-point, 4th quarter deficit to sneak away with a 23-20 overtime victory. By virtue of their win, the Jets snap a five-game losing streak to the Giants and cement their status as a Wildcard contender in the AFC. The Jets were resilient on both sides on the ball while taking advantage of some questionable decisions made by Tom Coughlin. The Jets’ offense was stagnant for nearly three quarters, but Coughlin’s decision to ‘go-for-it’ on 4th-and-Goal from the Jets’ 2-yard line swung momentum in the Jets’ favor. The Giants were holding a 10-point lead, so it was a very questionable decision by Coughlin. Regardless, Coughlin’s decision gave the Jets an opening—and Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall ran through it. Fitzpatrick and Marshall connected for a 9-yard scoring strike with just 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. This scoring play knotted the score at 20. In overtime, the Jets pushed the ball downfield, but settled for a field goal by new kicker, Randy Bullock. Giants’ kicker, Josh Brown, missed his game-tying kick in overtime, handing the Jets the victory. Overall, it was a very emotional game and tempers ran high at times, but the duo of Fitzpatrick-Marshall, not Manning-Beckham, proved to be the winning combo.

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With the season seemingly on the line, the New York Jets played their best game in nearly two months. Ryan Fitzpatrick was very efficient, throwing for 277 yards and four touchdowns while Chris Ivory looked explosive for the first time in nearly a month. Fitzpatrick hit the ‘trifecta’ by throwing a touchdown pass to each of his starting wide receivers. While Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall regularly hit pay dirt, Devin Smith scored his first touchdown right before halftime. With just seconds remaining, Smith ran a tight post route and Fitzpatrick delivered a strike for a 16-yard touchdown. This scoring play gave New York a 14-0 halftime lead, but more importantly, Fitzpatrick showed a lot of trust in the rookie by targeting him in a high leverage situation. After weeks of drops and poorly run routes, it was encouraging to see Smith haul in this touchdown pass.

Sans Darrelle Revis, New York’s defense completely dominated Miami’s offense, allowing just one third down conversion in the first three quarters. Miami’s offense lost Rishard Matthews and Mike Pouncey to injuries early in the game, but Ryan Tannehill was once again befuddled by New York’s blitz schemes.

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New York’s defense did not have an answer for Houston’s third string quarterback, TJ Yates. Yates managed the offense fairly well and did not shy away from throwing at Darrelle Revis. Revis locked horns with DeAndre Hopkins for the majority of the game—and Yates-Hopkins won the majority of those battles. During the second quarter, Yates hooked up with Hopkins on a 61-yard touchdown bomb off of play action. Revis bit on Hopkins’ double move and Yates dropped a dime over Revis’ outstretched arm. Revis did not have safety help over the top and paid the price against one of the NFL’s best young wide receivers. Revis left the game during the third quarter with a head injury, so his status is worth monitoring.

New York’s offensive line, sans Nick Mangold, did not have an answer for JJ Watt. Watt lined up all over Houston’s defensive front and dominated one-on-one match-ups, particularly against right tackle, Breno Giacomini. New York refused to double-team Watt, which proved to be a foolish decision.

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It wasn’t pretty, but the New York Jets did enough on both sides of the secure their fifth win of the season. New York had to dig down deep in an effort to overcome numerous injuries on the offensive line and in the secondary. In addition, kicker Nick Folk injured his quadriceps during warmups and gave all kicking duties to punter, Ryan Quigley. Ryan Fitzpatrick, injured thumb and all, was able to muster a competitive, winning effort and did not commit any turnovers.

New York’s defense returned to its ball-hawking ways, forcing three turnovers and registering five sacks. New York’s defensive line, which was led by Sheldon Richardson’s dominant effort, simply overpowered Jacksonville’s unit at the line of scrimmage. Monitor the progress of rookie linebacker, Lorenzo Mauldin. Mauldin was strictly utilized in pass rushing situations, but registered two key sacks.

From purely a statistical standpoint, Chris Ivory had one of the worst games for a running back in history. Ivory rushed 23 times for just 26 yards, which was an all-time low for a player with at least 23 carries. Ivory, however, was able to salvage his afternoon by scoring twice. While there were some injuries on the offensive line, namely to Nick Mangold and Willie Colon, Ivory is responsible for some of this ineptitude. Jacksonville’s run defense is fairly good, but it’s far from an all-time great unit that should limit Ivory.

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The New York Jets learned that the fate of a team’s season can change on a single play. Ryan Fitzpatrick injured his left thumb, his non-throwing hand, on the game’s sixth play and exited. Fitzpatrick scrambled on a third down play and secured a first down, but went head first instead of sliding. Fitzpatrick gave way to Geno Smith—and everything started to fall apart on both sides of the ball. After chasing around Tom Brady and Co. last week, New York’s defense looked sluggish against a confident Oakland offense. New York’s tackling was uncharacteristically poor and the secondary was shredded by both Derek Carr and Latavius Murray. Personnel wise, Oakland exploited back-up corner, Marcus Williams who was filling in at safety for the injured Calvin Prior. The middle of the field was wide open for the duration of the game and Oakland’s dynamic playmakers exploited it all game long. Credit Darrelle Revis, though for his superb coverage on Amari Cooper, who was limited to just 55 yards.

Monitor Brandon Marshall’s status throughout the week. Marshall went down twice during the game, once with a toe injury and a second time with an ankle injury, and was constantly talking to doctors on the sideline. Credit Marshall for only missing a few plays and battling through his ailments. During the fourth quarter, Marshall’s speed was comprised and dropped a sure-fire touchdown, but luckily, he finished the game.

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Bill Belichick is known for taking away the opposition’s best play maker. His flavor of the week was none other than Brandon Marshall. Belichick’s defense rolled coverage towards Marshall throughout the game, giving Eric Decker one-on-one opportunities on the perimeter. Decker made several big catches, highlighted by four big third down conversions.

Chris Ivory re-injured his balky hamstring on the game’s first play, but battled through the ailment throughout the game. Ivory was regularly spelled by Zac Stacy, but credit Ivory for a gritty, gutty effort. Ivory hit paydirt in the third quarter when he leaked out of the backfield and caught a swing pass for an easy 9-yard touchdown rumble. New England forgot to cover Ivory as he jogged in for an easy touchdown.

Head coach Todd Bowles has had a successful start in New York, but made some questionable clock management decisions late in the fourth quarter. Trailing by three points and armed with all three of his timeouts, Bowles gave Tom Brady and Co. at least 60 seconds of free time by not using his timeouts. Brady iced the game, hitting a wide open Rob Gronkowski for a 15-yard touchdown with just 1:13 to go. New York was able to make a last ditch effort by recovering an on-sides kick, but a false start by Marshall ended the game.

Nick Mangold suffered a scary neck injury late in the fourth quarter. Mangold was able to walk off under his own power, but left the stadium wearing a neck brace and will undergo X-Rays.

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It was a tale of two halves, but the New York Jets came away with their fourth win of the 2015 season. New York was stuck in post-bye week funk for the first half and trailed 13-10 at halftime. New York, however, received big performance from Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall during the third quarter and scored 17 unanswered points to pull away.

Chris Ivory turned in another big-time performance, gashing Washington’s once-vaunted run defense for 196 total yards. Ivory’s toughness and vision were on full display throughout the game as he had little trouble ripping off big runs and beating defenders to edge. Ivory was also featured as a receiver and had an impressive 24-yard catch and run. Chan Gailey made a conscious effort to attack the edges instead of running towards Washington’s beefy interior. Credit Ivory for once again rising to the occasion.

Special teams play continues to be a bugaboo. One of one Ryan Quigley’s punts was blocked in the end zone and was recovered by Washington for a touchdown. Nick Folk missed a 49-yard field goal, which is a rarity for him. These miscues haven’t cost New York yet, but the team will need play a perfect game next weekend against New England.

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The New York Giants (3-2) capped off an emotional week by defeating the San Francisco 49ers 30-27 on Sunday Night Football. Here are some closing thoughts on the game and my take on a Week 6 tilt against Philadelphia.

Offense

Eli Manning threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns, but was lucky that two of his errant passes hit the turf instead of being intercepted by San Francisco defenders. Manning, who has made a career out of leading game winning drives, ‘dink and dunked’ his way down the field, steeping up Larry Donnell’s spectacular, game-winning touchdown grab. While it’s easy to credit (and somewhat blame) Manning for game outcomes, his offensive line, namely his tackles, did not play well. Rookie Ereck Flowers and sixth-year vet, Marshall Newhouse, allowed 16 pressures as San Francisco defenders routinely ran into the backfield. Credit outside linebacker, Aaron Lynch, who is one of the emerging playmakyers in the NFL. Lynch beat Newhouse throughout the game and hit Manning four times and applied eight pressures.

What’s Next?: New York heads down to I-95 to face Philadelphia next week on Monday Night Football. Flowers and Newhouse will likely have a tough time against Philadelphia’s talented pass rush, which is led by Fletcher Cox. Manning is taking a lot of hits, so Flowers and Newhouse will need to perform much better.

Defense

On the other side of the ball, many were expecting the defense to ‘tee off’ on Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, however, was pretty solid since the Giants failed to generate a pass rush. Damontre Moore was able to register two sacks, including one key sack late in the fourth quarter, but was pretty quiet for the majority of the game. Credit offensive tackle, Joe Staley for keeping Moore at bay. Kerry Wynn was adequate, but this defense really misses Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers.

What’s Next?: Things will not get easier in Week 6 as Moore and Wynn will battle with an offensive line that is led by perennial All-Pros, Jason Peters and Jason Kelce. Putting pressure on Sam Bradford and creating turnovers will be the key to the game.

Quarter-Poll Thoughts: 

At the ‘Quarter-Poll’ of the 2015 season, the Giants feel like a ‘sneaky’ team in the sense that they aren’t getting much publicity. The Giants have had a fourth quarter lead in all of their games and could very well be 5-0. Instead, the Giants have a small one game lead in the NFC East. Personnel-wise, the Giants’ offensive skill positions are Top-5 in the NFL. The offensive line, sans Flowers and Newhouse, has performed well. On defense, the Giants desperately needs generate a consistent pass rush. A resurgent, aggressive pass rush would have helped the Giants seal victories against Dallas and Atlanta. It’s fairly clear that the top two teams in the NFL are the Patriots and Packers, but the Giants can rise up the ranks by correcting its issues on the edge.

Tonight will be a pivot moment in Matt Harvey’s career. Billed as New York’s ace, Harvey will take the ball at Citi Field in a pivotal Game 3. Harvey, who is no stranger to the spotlight, will have a chance to move New York one step closer to the National League Championship Series. Harvey loves the spotlight; his whole persona is built upon seizing the big moment. In some ways, tonight’s game is reminiscent of the New York Yankees’ run in the late 1990s. Granted, the Mets have not won a World Series title since 1986, but Game 3 has a ‘big game feel’ to it. Big games require big performances and fans are used to seeing New York athletes rise to the occasion. Andy Pettitte made a career of pitching in (and winning) big playoff games. Pettitte, who has arguably the best resume in playoff history (42 starts, 263 innings, 19 wins, five World Series rings), brought intensity and determination to the mound. Pettitte, however, found a way to harness that intensity as he methodically worked through opposing lineups. Harvey has elite ‘stuff’, but can he harness his emotions and deliver an elite performance? There’s a lot of bad blood between these two teams after Chase Utley’s controversial slide in Game 2. As a side note, Utley, who is appealing his suspension, is 6-for-18 with one home run against Harvey.

The Mets, alike the late 1990s Yankees, are the only show in town. Football is on the back burner and the Mets are front and center in the minds and hearts of New York sports fans. The onus is on Matt Harvey to deliver an elite performance. Given his make-up, mentality, and propensity for the spotlight, expect Matt Harvey to deliver a big performance tonight.