WEEK TEN FINAL:
NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS: Coach Kevin Gilbride Unleashes Smash Mouth Football Against Oakland Raiders. Andre Brown Grinds Out 115 Yards In First Game Back from Fractured Leg. But Make Sure You Give The Game Ball To David Diehl!
The Giants came out of their bye week running - literally. For the first time all season, Coach Gilbride designed a game plan that incorporated more rushing, than passing the football. In return, the Giants received a stellar effort from Andre Brown, an overall running effort that overcame yet another Eli Manning pick-six, and converted on third down to gain a crucial first down with 2:03 left in the fourth quarter to cement a 24-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
In Andre Brown's first game of the season back from a leg fracture, Coach Gilbride surprisingly dialed up an old-school smash mouth ground attack. Coach called Brown's number thirty times, and in return Andre rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown. Peyton Hillis rushed another five times for 21 yards. That's 136 yards by the backfield on 35 carries, for an average of 3.9 yards per rush. Hillis did fumble once however, but in the bigger picture, the running game helped the Giants convert 50% on third down, and rushed for eight first downs. Big Blue also won time of possession by a 32-28 minute margin.
Eli Manning, on the other hand, was only 12/22, for 140 yards. He threw one touchdown pass to Reuben Randal, and one (INT) TD pass to Oakland's Tracy Porter. In a very real way this week, the running game bailed-out Eli Manning for a change. More time will be spent this week talking about a resurgent running game, than dissecting Eli's performance and discussing how much he sucks this season. I've definitely defended him over the weeks, but today was strictly his own folly.
The real conversation and rightful acclaim however should focus on right guard David Diehl. He first deserves credit for being adaptable enough over the years to fill in at most offensive line positions. He variously switched between left guard and tackle through the years, and with this year's season ending injury to Chris Snee, Diehl was asked to shift over and stabilize right guard. It is far from coincidence that the Giants running game has demonstrated substantial improvement ever since David Diehl rejoined the offensive line after breaking his thumb.
This afternoon against Oakland, Coach Gilbride unleashed a ground attack that repeatedly rushed behind David Diehl's blocking. Coach relied heavily on Diehl in the first and fourth quarters. The Giants right guard responded by creating lanes and daylight worth 64 yards on 11 carries, for a 5.8 yards per rush average. Coach Gilbride elected to run right 7 times out of 8 1st quarter rushes. Then after going heavy left side in the 2nd quarter, Oakland held the ball for 13:16 in the 3rd quarter, and limited the Giants to just 3 rushing attempts. But in the fourth, Coach Gilbride went heavy right again, calling for 9 of 13 rushes behind Diehl and Pugh.
Analysis shows the right side of Big Blue's O-Line played huge Sunday. Coach Gilbride called for 9 plays to be run off right tackle Justin Pugh, and gained 31 yards. Between both Pugh and David Diehl, the Giants rushed 20 times for 95 yards, good for a 4.7 average yards per carry.
On the other side, the Giants ran off left tackle Will Beatty 7 times, and gained 28 yards, for a 4-yard average per rush. But when they dialed up Kevin Boothe at left guard, the Giants gained just 13 yards on 5 carries. In total, the Giants ran left 12 times and gained only 41 yards, for a 3.4 average per carry. Trying to force their way up the middle was an even less fruitful endeavor. The Giants gained net zero yards on three rushes behind Jim Cordle at center, but Cordle's efforts playing to Diehl's left certainly also contributed to the Giants overall success running right.
The Giants running game had six plays go for -16 yards, only one play went for no-gain, while 28 plays resulted in positive yardage.
This came against the Oakland Raiders - not exactly a bad team, but not necessarily a very good one. Nonetheless, the search for daylight continues.