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Giants Want to Make Big Plays


“There are always plays after a loss that irritate a coach. Plays that could have easily swung the game in their team’s direction.

After the loss to the Eagles last month, there was a lot of talk from the Giants about such plays and about how close they were to making them. A block here, a cutback there and they would have been playing from ahead.

“We’ve been talking about that all week — making the plays,” coach Tom Coughlin said the other day. Asked if those close plays still get him as agitated as the first time he saw them on film, Coughlin said, “It never stops, it never stops.”

The Giants can make it stop by finishing those plays Sunday. And they’re confident they will because, unlike the last game when they were sitting on a big lead in the division and for the NFC’s No. 1 seed, urgency is back on their side. The Eagles will no longer be the only desperate team on the field.

“They wanted it more than us,” plenty of Giants players have said in the weeks that followed the loss to Philly. 

Here’s a look at a few plays the Giants should have made — and hope to make this time around — that could have changed the last game against the Eagles: 

THE SITUATION: Second play of the game, first-and-10 from the Giants’ 39-yard line.
WHAT HAPPENED: RB Brandon Jacobs ran off left guard for 3 yards. 
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED: LT David Diehl and TE Michael Matthews double-teamed Eagles DE Trent Cole. The Giants’ blockers usually do a great job of combo blocks, with one lineman passing the defender off to another and continuing to the next level of the defense. In this case, Diehl couldn’t get off Cole to get to LB Akeem Jordan. If he had, Jacobs would have had a huge gain because LG Rich Seubert and C Shaun O’Hara had cleared the right side of the hole. 

THE SITUATION: Same drive, second-and-5 from the Eagles’ 32-yard line. 
WHAT HAPPENED: WR Mario Manningham was dropped for a loss of 12 yards on an end around.
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED: This appeared to be a terrible play call because of the outcome, but it was actually a good call that wasn’t executed. The Giants caught the Eagles in a blitz up the middle, blocked it well and turned it to the back side. Cole, who had a very good game, disrupted the run on the play side by driving TE Kevin Boss into the backfield. Cole didn’t make the tackle, but he slowed down Manningham long enough for S Quentin Mikell to get there. If Boss handles Cole, Manningham has two blockers on two defenders ahead of him and would have been 1-on-1 with Mikell in the open field.

THE SITUATION: Second-and-1 from the Giants’ 24-yard line later in the first quarter.
WHAT HAPPENED: RB Derrick Ward was stopped for a loss of 1 yard by — guess who — Cole and Jordan. The Giants then failed to convert a third-and-2.
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED: Diehl tried to hook Cole and allow Ward to get outside. But Cole fought inside, got into the backfield and grabbed Ward’s right leg. Seubert and FB Madison Hedgecock had their guys, so Ward would have been up the left sideline with S Brian Dawkins trying to chase him down. Again, “they wanted it more” than the Giants. And maybe nobody wanted it more than Cole. 

THE SITUATION: First play of the second quarter, Giants down 3-0, first-and-10 from their own 15.
WHAT HAPPENED: WR Domenik Hixon dropped what should have been an 85-yard touchdown pass.
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED: Hixon could have caught the ball. But the point is this was the Giants’ first play with the wind at their back and they went right to a play they knew would work. They came out in a running formation — two RBs and two TEs — so the Eagles played only one safety deep and moved Dawkins to the line. When the deep safety — Quintin Demps — bit on a crossing pattern by Boss and moved forward, Hixon easily slid behind him with CB Sheldon Brown trailing. Look for the Giants to throw out of the same formation Sunday — when the wind is at their back, of course.

THE SITUATION: Same drive, first-and-10 from the Eagles’ 33. 
WHAT HAPPENED: Jacobs picked up 2 yards on a run off the left side. Three plays later, K John Carney had a 46-yard field goal blocked. 
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED: Jacobs could have been celebrating a TD. Boss turned his man (Jordan) in, Hedgecock, who was like a heat-seeking missile on Demps, drove him back 10 yards and Hixon had Brown turned out. Only one guy stood between Jacobs and the end zone — LB Stewart Bradley, who sprinted forward when he saw the stretch play coming. Diehl hesitated a bit when Cole stunted inside him, which meant he was now Seubert’s guy. That half-second gave Bradley enough time to get a step on Diehl and beat him to the edge. After the tackle, Diehl leaned his head back and looked skyward in frustration. He knew the opportunity the Giants had there. 

THE SITUATION: Eagles up 10-0, Giants with the ball second-and-5 at the Philly 44 with 1:20 left in the second quarter.
WHAT HAPPENED: Ward gained two yards on a shotgun draw. 
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED: The Giants had the same call on the play before when the Eagles jumped offside. They would have had that one blocked perfectly if the play wasn’t whistled dead. So they went right back to it, but this time DE Victor Abiamiri beat RT Kareem McKenzie to the inside, cutting down Ward’s vision and forcing him to cut it back inside and take what he could get. Outside, with Seubert kicking out his guy, WR Steve Smith pancaking his and WR Amani Toomer ready to turn Mikell inside, Ward could have had all the room he wanted. 

THE SITUATION: Third quarter, Eagles up 10-7, Giants facing a second-and-6 from their own 28.
WHAT HAPPENED: Jacobs gained 5 yards on a run up the middle.
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED: Seubert and Diehl double-teamed DT Brodrick Bunkley and pushed him back until he was standing on one leg. If you stop the tape at this point and ask someone to predict which player will make the tackle, the last guy that person would pick would be Bunkley, who was milliseconds from being nudged to the ground. It looked like all Diehl and Seubert had to do was breathe on him and he would have been down. But somehow, he stands his ground, fights back to two feet slides off both blockers and trips up Jacobs on his way through the hole. How? Well, maybe he just “wanted it more.” If he didn’t, Jacobs would have been running at full speed toward Demps, who might have then been road kill like the Redskins’ LaRon Landry in the season opener. To make matters worse, this was the play on which Jacobs landed on his knee and aggravated his PCL injury. If Bunkley doesn’t trip him up, he has a big gain and he stays in the game, which certainly could have affected the outcome as well. 

CONCLUSION: Bad games happen. This was a bad game for the Giants. The above mistakes are not typical of players like Diehl and McKenzie, who are key members of perhaps the best offensive line in football. But the Eagles, um, “wanted it more.” Sunday, the Giants will likely want it just as much, which should eliminate some of these mistakes and perhaps result in a Giants victory this time around.”

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