Offense and Special Teams, not Defense, Doom Big Blue This Time
The biggest concern for the Giants going into this game with the Arizona Cardinals was whether they shored up their secondary enough to avoid another defensive breakdown.
They did that for the most part, but It was the offense and special teams that proved to be their undoing in this game.
The offense put in a flat performance, rarely fooling the Cardinals and getting outhustled to the point where one could question their effort. The special teams, most notably the poor punting of Jeff Feagles, gave the Cardinals excellent field position all night.
The defense responded the best they could, looking more alive than they did in New Orleans last week (which isn't saying much). They got to QB Kurt Warner enough times to make a difference, sacking him twice while knocking him down, hurrying him and even batting away several passes.
The Giants led at the half, 14-10, but the game would soon begin to slip away. Manning was late with his passes all night. His offerings were repeatedly knocked down by defenders and slapped from his receivers' hands. Three of his passes were intercepted, including the one by Antrelle Rolle that iced the game.
The others were an acrobatic, leaping grab by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie over Domenik Hixon on a long pass on the goal line and a deflection into the arms of Adrian Wilson deep in Giants' territory, which led to a Cardinal TD. Ahmad Bradshaw lost a key fumble on a fourth quarter drive as well.
Feagles hurt the Giants with two punts in particular from deep inside Giants' territory. His objective was to kick the ball away from the dangerous Arizona returner, Steve Breaston. He achieved that by angling the ball towards the sideline. Unfortunately, he shanked them both, giving the Cardinals good field position each time. Both drives resulted in Arizona touchdowns.