The Giants ran the ball well in Sunday’s 34-0 loss to the Atlanta Falcons and they can still secure a playoff berth by winning their final two games.
This concludes the positive portion of this report card.
Coach Tom Coughlin’s team did very little right on Sunday, from the top on down. Coughlin admitted to putting his team in a precarious situation with some fourth-down calls, as they failed to convert three times. K Lawrence Tynes missed a 30-yard field goal, the offense came apart in the second half and the defense was clearly affected by the loss of CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring).
So yes, the Giants still control their own fate, but after the way they played on Sunday, it’s hard to see how that’s possible.
Despite gaining 4.6 yards per carry on Sunday, the Giants couldn’t rely on their running game because Falcons CB Asante Samuel’s interception of QB Eli Manning led to an early 7-0 lead for Atlanta, and New York was forced to play catch up for the rest of the day. That explains the lopsided time of possession (38:57 to 21:03), but it doesn’t account for the failures in the passing game. Manning tossed another interception and finished the game having completed just 13 of 25 passes. RG Jim Cordle -- who replaced RG Chris Snee (hip) -- said the Falcons were able to focus on rushing the passer, which resulted in a significant amount of pressure on Manning. Previous game's grade: B-
DT Chris Canty said the Giants missed 18 tackles on Sunday, but fans probably think that number is a touch low. The Giants defense was simply nonexistent for much of the game. Falcons QB Matt Ryan wasn’t pressured and while the running game averaged only 3.4 yards per carry, Atlanta never struggled to pick up tough yards. WR Julio Jones had his way with rookie CB Jayron Hosley (see: Ryan’s 40-yard touchdown pass) and the Falcons only punted twice on the day. The Giants only punted twice, but for much different reasons. Previous game's grade: B
Special teams: F
Tynes missed a field goal and the return game, which accumulated 287 yards and a touchdown in Week 14, was a nonfactor. The Giants held the Falcons to zero return yards (Tynes’ only kickoff was a touchback) and P Steve Weatherford had two attempts of over 50 yards. Previous game's grade: A
What can you say? The Giants weren’t prepared on a number of levels. Nobody could have expected the Falcons -- the league’s fourth-ranked passing team -- to run the ball 38 times, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that the defense wasn’t prepared for that occurrence. People can complain about offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s play calling, but the Giants were playing from behind and it’s difficult to continue handing the ball to RB David Wilson in that situation. Wilson isn’t the best pass protector, so he had to come off the field for long stretches over the course of the game. And as previously mentioned, Coughlin took the blame for the struggles on fourth down. Previous game's grade: A
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