Much like the last two victories, it sure wasn’t pretty. The New York Giants took care of business on Sunday, defeating the Oakland Raiders and for one more week get to carry a sliver of hope that they can find their way back onto the Road to MetLife Stadium.
Although their play left much to be desired, the Giants did what they had to do on Sunday to come away with a crucial win against an inferior team to brighten the team’s dim playoffs hopes. The Giants were able to contain Terrelle Pryor, establish a running game for the first time in what seems like almost a year (outside of Jacobs’ one-and-done performance against the Bears), and bottle up Oakland’s passing game en route to their third win in a row.
Shutting Down Pryor
In last week’s game preview we discussed the importance of containing Pryor, specifically his ability to run the ball. On Sunday the Giants did just that, holding Pryor to five carries for 19 yards. The Giants did a tremendous job not only containing Pryor but also making him look uncomfortable in the pocket. The mobile quarterback was held to his third-lowest rushing grade of the season with a 0.2 grade from the fine folks over at Pro Football Focus.
Although Pryor confirmed he was not at 100% this week the job the Giants defense did against him has to leave the team and the fans pretty pleased heading into next week’s matchup against Aaron Rodger-less Green Bay. The Giants D matched their season-high with four sacks, recorded 15 quarterback hurries and added 1 “qb hit” totaling a very solid 20 pressures. Justin Tuck matched his season-high with six QB hurries and despite missing three tackles, he still managed to gather a positive grade of 0.2 and continue his excellent play on the season.
Jason Pierre-Paul also looked good in this one registering a sack and two “stops” contributing to an overall grade of 1.2. The defensive line is finally starting to come into form and produce the way fans have become accustomed to during the Jerry Reese era. With strong play from the secondary now the norm in 2013, a return to form for the front four will allow the Giants defense to be an incredibly strong unit, one that can win them games.
Outstanding Play from the Secondary
As good as the pass rush looked on Sunday; the MVU (most valuable unit) in this one was the Giants secondary. The individual players combined to grade out at an astounding 5.8 led by tremendous performances from Terrell Thomas and Trumaine McBride. No coincidence that these are two players who clearly play with an chip on their shoulder, with each overcoming some form of adversity to find themselves as major players for Big Blue. Although stopping the Raiders passing attack is nothing to write home about, the individual performance of these two corners should not be understated. Thomas was thrown at six times and allowed just one completion for just 15 yards and had an interception which nearly went for a touchdown. Both plays helped contribute to a season high grade of 2.4. After struggling a bit to begin the season Thomas has now turned in grades of 2.0 or better in consecutive weeks. After shaking off some of the rust (which has to be expected of a player coming off two major knee surgeries) T2 is starting to look like the star corner back of old for Big Blue.
McBride also turned in a season-best performance with an overall grade of 2.8 including an impressive grade of 2.4 in coverage. In addition, McBride had one pass defended to go along with two tackles and a stop. Not bad for a journeyman cornerback who wasn’t in the league last season.
Overall, the Giants defense has been one of the best units in the league over the past three and a half weeks. The only touchdown the Giants’ defense has given up over the past 14 quarters was Pryor’s one-yard run on a drive that started from inside the five. During that span the Giants defense has graded out to an eye-popping 17.4 (including a -9.1 grade from the entire Bears game). I don’t care what quarterback or offense you are playing, those numbers speak for themselves. Now if the Giants offense can find anything that resembles the “groove” that they have had over the last three seasons then they can get serious about getting back on track to the road to MetLife Stadium.
A Running Game Established
The first step towards finding that “New York Groove” on offense has been taken this last week as the Giants established a running game. The headline before the game was the return of Andre Brown. The Giants went to him early and often with excellent results and the RB was the story post game as well. Brown ran the ball 30 times (so much for easing him back into the offense!) for 115 yards and a score. In other words-exactly what this rushing attack needed. Brown’s performance was good enough for a 3.8 overall grade from PFF.com, easily the best grade a Giants running back has turned in this season.
As Eli and the offensive line still struggle (-4.2 collective pass block grade versus Oakland) it is imperative that the Giants continue to find success on the ground. This needs to be even more of an emphasis going forward this season as the Giants have an incredibly hard time protecting their star QB and in fairness, Manning has been anything but a star this season. As the offensive line and Eli can (hopefully) start to gel the Giants will have to ride Brown into the ground (maybe literally) to find any success on the offensive side of the ball.
Once again big thanks to the guys at PFF for letting us use some of their great premium stats in our analysis.