And you can read that two different ways. As you'll see, the grades for the offense after the 45-38 loss to the Eagles aren't so bad. But the defense? Absolutely offensive.
But hey, this is the season of miracles. And the biggest miracle to come out of that game is the fact that the 7-6 Giants are still deep in the hunt for that sixth playoff spot. Still, if the defense doesn't start doing some extra credit homework, it's going to pull down the entire GPA to failing.
Here are the grades.
QUARTERBACK: Slide, Eli, slide! Taking a page from the Mark Sanchez book of self-destructive behavior, Manning lost a fumble on a head-first dive deep in Eagles territory. A score there, with the Eagles up 30-24, might have produced a more permanent momentum shift. He threw well, going 27-of-38 for a career-high 391 yards and three touchdowns. And he seemed to move well even though he took three sacks. That last-ditch shovel pass to Ahmad Bradshaw just as he was being taken down was a heady play. GRADE: B+.
RUNNING BACKS: The ground game amassed 133 yards and two touchdowns, a lot more production than they've generally seen. But there's no forgiving Brandon Jacobs for losing a fumble that Sheldon Brown returned 60 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. Jacobs failed to get 20 carries again, but between him and Ahmad Bradshaw, they did run the ball 31 times. And Bradshaw snapped off a neat 17-yard run. Jacobs twice carried defenders for lengthy gains and powered his way up the middle for a touchdown from a yard out. Bradshaw also had a 31-yard screen on which he made two nice moves. GRADE: B.
RECEIVERS: Mario Manningham failed to keep both feet inbounds on a potential touchdown catch, and needs to continue to work on his field awareness. But Kevin Boss made it right with his four-yard end zone reception. Hakeem Nicks continues to impress with his moves. He dropped two passes, but made up for that with a 68-yard touchdown catch-and-run on which he slipped two tacklers. Sunday was his first career start, and he responded with four catches for a team-high 110 yards. Steve Smith caught seven passes for 74 yards, and tight end Boss was once again a viable part of the passing offense with seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Domenik Hixon broke a 61-yard touchdown catch-and-run. They generally did a good job getting open against a porous secondary, and when contested they did well in fighting for the ball. As has been the case most of the season, they were the least of the Giants' worries. GRADE: B+.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Will Beatty stepped in at right tackle after Kareem McKenzie went down with a second-quarter left knee sprain and did fine. But overall the line allowed too much pressure on Manning. Along with the three sacks, the quarterback was hit eight additional times. They did okay in the run game, opening a sufficient number of holes for Jacobs and Bradshaw. Nothing great, but at least they showed up. GRADE: C+.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Face it, they are simply not going to get a higher performance from Osi Umenyiora. He showed up for his one big play per game, forcing a fumble that was prematurely blown dead on a second-quarter touchdown drive, and he had two other tackles. Otherwise, a non-factor. Mathias Kiwanuka looked good at times, no so much at others. And Justin Tuck continued to battle valiantly with six tackles and a batted pass despite two hurting shoulders and a neck injury. But that was it. The middle of the line -- Chris Canty, Barry Cofield, Fred Robbins -- was a no-show again. No pressure up the middle. No consistent pressure from the edges, which gave Donovan McNabb all the time he needed to find folks like DeSean Jackson downfield. They did better against the run. But the truth is, why would any team run when they know the former lions of the defensive front look more like declawed kitties now. They were a big reason the Eagles were able to march up and down the field in easy, sustained drives. Because of their inability to stop anything on first and second down, the Eagles mounted a 12-play, 91-yard scoring drive without ever facing a third down. GRADE: F.
LINEBACKERS: Jonathan Goff had an interception and Michael Boley led the team with 11 tackles. Bryan Kehl played Michael Vick's late second-quarter keeper just right, and then missed him to allow him to score a touchdown. Tight ends continue to vex them, as Brent Celek caught five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. The blitz continues to be a problem. Had Boley caught Umenyiora's strip-sack in the air on the fumble that was prematurely whistled dead, it would have changed the course of the game. Clint Sintim could have fallen on it anyway, as he's trained. Justin Tuck could have fallen on it, as he's trained. Mathias Kiwanuka was there, too. Instead, nobody recovered what was ultimately ruled a fumble, and it simply went as a 10-yard loss. GRADE: F.
SECONDARY: Only the Salvation Army gives away more than the secondary at this point, and it's a close race at that. The 60-yard touchdown pass to Jackson was a two-receiver route, and yet nobody was even near him. Aaron Ross tried to get over, but never had a shot at Jackson from his safety position. Michael Johnson should have been there, but he was preoccupied with covering the least-likely option, a backup tight end. Had McNabb been a foot shorter on the long throw to Reggie Brown, who had beaten Corey Webster by three steps, that would have been an 80-yard, third-quarter touchdown. Receivers were open all over the field, and that led to McNabb and Vick hitting six passes of 20 yards or more. Webster had another horrible game as he was torched consistently. The safeties were hardly noticeable. They never made an effort to get physical with Jackson, playing mostly off-coverage. Exactly how does a secondary give up a 44-yard completion to a wide-open Jackson on third-and-20? GRADE: F- (I'll get in trouble with the Board of Ed for that, but I'm a maverick).
SPECIAL TEAMS: Jackson's 72-yard punt return for a touchdown was inexcusable in that Jeff Feagles put his punt right where it should have been, on the sideline. But the Giants never had anyone in position to force Jackson back inside as he took it down the sideline, beating a helpless Feagles, for the score. Lawrence Tynes knocked the onsides kick at the end out of bounds, and most of his kickoffs were on the short side. The kickoff coverage team gave up too much field position. GRADE: F.
COACHING: Tom Coughlin will not fire Bill Sheridan as defensive coordinator, but this performance certainly could have pushed him to the brink. Every time the offense scored, the defense allowed an answer. It took exactly one snap and 15 seconds for the Giants' 31-30 lead to vanish, thanks to the 60-yard Jackson touchdown catch. They could not get off the field, allowing a field goal drive of 12 plays and a 12-play, 91-yard clinching touchdown drive in the fourth quarter where the Eagles never saw a third down. His unit is now the 28th-worst team in the league in points allowed, followed only by Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City. The question of communication came up again, unforgiveable at this point in the season. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's playcalling was baffling, especially on that silly throw to offensive lineman Kevin Boothe on second-and-goal from the 2. He also called a draw to Bradshaw on third-and-5 from the Eagles 43 that gained nothing and killed the drive with Philly up 37-31 in the fourth quarter. Coughlin needs to do something drastic at this point, or the Giants won't have any playoff hopes left after next week. GRADE: F.
What do you guys think?
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