NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL ~ Big Blue Wins NFC East Title Over Dallas Cowboys.
The Last Word: Pre-Game
Eli's Legs Kept the Clock Moving Against Dallas as
Eli's Arm Keeps the Giants Winning.
Yeah! Smash Mouth Eli! The only Star last night didn't come on a Dallas helmet. Eli Manning was the biggest star last night. And everyone from here to Dallas knew it.
It took Eli Manning's fourteen yards on six rushes to get the Giants over 100 yards rushing for the game. And his scrambles should not go under spoken either. They were very important. Otherwise, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, and D.J. Ware combined on twenty five rushes for ninety-two yards. That's 3.7 yards per gain and not a bad game by any stretch; not as it pertains to the Cowboys game and I'll tell you why.
The Cowboys came out in the second half having made some good adjustments. It took the entire third quarter before Perry Fewell and the Defense caught up. That was a glimpse into Dallas' ability to score as quickly as the Giants. But the time the Giants spent running the ball and consuming the clock with the lead, helped tremendously.
Dallas only rushed the ball sixteen times all game. The Giants rushed twenty five times with six more scrambles by Eli for a total of thirty-one rushes. Both teams had sixteen first downs throwing, and made three first downs running the ball. The Giants only had seven more total plays from scrimmage that Dallas. But the Giants were 7/15 on third down efficiency and the Cowboys were only 4/12 on their third down conversions.
Two turnovers by the Cowboys, and the Giants running the ball fifteen more times than Dallas kept the ball in Big Blue's hands for 34:33 versus 25:27 for the Cowboys. That's why even when the running game isn't racking up huge yardage, it's still important to run the ball. It keeps the other team off the field. The Giants held on to the ball nine more minutes than Dallas yet only got off seven more plays as I stated earlier.
Of course, Eli Manning was a beast throwing the ball. Or is the fact Victor Cruz was an even larger beast catching the ball a bigger menace to the Cowboys? Victor Cruz accounted for more than half of Eli's throwing yardage. Cruz caught six passes for 178 yards. And seventy-four yards came on his touchdown scamper up the left side. Eli attempted thirty-three passes and completed twenty-four, for 346 yards. But Eli also threw touchdown passes to Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw too, for a total of three on the night.
I give Kevin Gilbride a lot of credit for sticking with the run even though at times it seemed to get stuffed at the line. I even credit Gilbride for calling some planned roll-outs. And I additionally credit Gilbride for incorporating Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum into the game plan. Eli Manning's six scrambles aside, twenty five rushes by the backfield was still enough to keep the Cowboys honest and the clock moving. Because very simply, with more time of possession, Tony Romo could have done more to affect the outcome of this game. Mind you, the conversation regarding the Giants Defensive effort is coming in my next post.
But I want to touch upon the running game getting stuffed at the line. Center David Baas is not creating any push off the line of scrimmage. Instead, he was getting stood up by Dallas, and once again, there was no yardage to be had up the middle. For yet another week with Baas at Center, better holes were being created off-Tackle. While that's been the case all season, at least with Boothe playing Center, the middle opened up somewhat. And on pass protection, I'm sorry, but David Baas looked like a back-pedalling, arm flailing fool. The Giants should be thinking long and hard about returning Kevin Boothe to Center, Mitch Petrus to Left Guard, David Diehl back to Tackle, and David Baas back to the sidelines. For the good of the team of course.
DEFENSIVE observations coming soon.