While the defense was gashed on a couple of big plays, the Giants made enough plays to get by the Bills and win a very important game as they head into the bye.
So, let’s tackle the good, the bad and the ugly.
Ahmad Bradshaw and the running gameWow, was that needed! The Giants finally got a 100-yard effort out of Bradshaw (26 carries for 104 yards and three touchdowns) as every yard and touchdown was vital. Once again, though, DJ Ware was ineffective, thus making Bradshaw’s effort all the more impressive.
The play of Corey WebsterYou can’t oversell the significance that Webster had in this game. His second interception (intended for the Bills’ Steve Johnson) with 4:02 left in the game basically sealed the victory for the Giants as they would march down for game-winning field afterwards. Webster has made big strides in his game this year, and this win and many others (remember his play against Larry Fitzgerald in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals?) wouldn’t be possible without the play of Webster.
Pass rush gets to Ryan FitzpatrickThe usually unflappable Fitzpatrick never got into a consistent rhythm on Sunday thanks to Mathias Kiwanuka, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora. Fitzpatrick was sacked three times and intercepted twice. Mind you Fitzpatrick was only sacked five times prior to Sunday.
Turnover free dayNo fumbles, no interceptions. This was only the second game (at Philadelphia being the other) where the Giants had no turnovers. Turnovers can quickly break team spirit, but credit the Giants for playing smart steady football. This leads me to my next point.
Steady play of Eli ManningSo what if he didn’t throw any touchdowns, Manning played a smart heads-up game and orchestrated five calculated scoring drives. His 292 passing yards and 94.8 QB rating should not be taken lightly.
Continued emergence of Jake BallardKevin Boss who? When will Ballard get his due? Ballard has been more than a serviceable tight end and almost scored again, but was stopped at the one-yard line early in the first quarter. On the day, Ballard finished with a season high five catches and 81 yards.
Final defensive standJust like they did in their game against the Cardinals, the Giants made a final stand when they had to. With 1:32 to go, the Giants did not let Buffalo creep back in and get close to attempting a game-tying field goal. They forced a false start on first down and would eventually regain possession when the Bills went four and out.
The disappearance of Victor CruzThankfully, Cruz was not needed in this game. Cruz only hauled in two catches for a measly 12 yards. Mario Manningham was Eli’s second receiving option of choice on the day, as he hauled in five catches for 56 yards.
Unnecessary use of a challengeOne of Manningham’s five catches almost went for a touchdown. However, the refs ruled he didn’t have complete possession of the ball. That didn’t stop Tom Coughlin from challenging the call. After the game, Coughlin said he didn’t think Manningham caught the ball, but still went ahead with the challenge on a whim. As we know, Coughlin is the master of challenging plays. But in a tight game, the loss of timeouts becomes paramount.
Giants run defenseThis is still a sore spot. Fred Jackson almost singlehandedly won this game for the Bills as he rushed for 121 yards. Jackson was hardly touched in his 80-yard touchdown scamper. The Bills in total rushed for 155 yards. As long as the Giants are banged up, this could continue to plague the team.
Inability to stop big playIt wasn’t just Fred Jackson and his 80-yard touchdown that quieted the Giants crowd. The Giants also let Naaman Roosevelt haul in a 60-yard TD reception. Who? This would be Roosevelt’s only catch, but it did momentarily put the Bills ahead 14-7. So, in two plays alone, the Giants gave up 140 yards and two touchdowns. While the defense makes the necessary stops when it has to, these big plays can kill any momentum they are having.
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