My family and some of their friends came down this past weekend, and yesterday afternoon we braved the Jersey Badlands to catch the Giants-Chargers game. If you missed the result, Phil Rivers threw a touchdown pass with 20 seconds left, and San Diego won 21-20.
Yeah, the dramatic ending sucked. Yeah, watching the stadium deflate was tough. Yeah, it makes Monday morning at work that much worse. But honestly, the team looked like crap for most of the game. The usual Coughlin Caution reared its head at all the wrong times, starting on the game's first drive. After an impressive 7 minute march, they faced third and 1 on about the 25. Instead of using play action, they ran right into the San Diego line and got stuffed a half-yard short. Coughlin opted for the field goal in typical buzz-kill fashion, and then Feagles botched the hold and we lost possession anyway.
After that, stupid penalties, bad luck, and poor execution kept the offense from scoring more than two touchdowns and a field goal. San Diego couldn't do much either, but that owed more to the fact that Norv Turner stupidly stuck to a running game that yielded almost nothing. The ugly game seemed to culminate with a Terrell Thomas interception with 3:30 remaining. He returned it to the 4-yard line, with the Giants already up 3, and the victory seemingly secure. But a holding penalty pushed us back, San Diego was intelligent with their timeouts, and we settled for a field goal without even reaching the two-minute warning. And then Rivers did his thing, and game over.
I won't call this a 'must-win.' It was a huge loss, though, and the 4th in a row for a Giants team that seems to have lost its old winning instinct. Here are some huge obstacles to the upcoming playoff push:
1) Eli and Coughlin don't trust the receivers. These guys never go downfield. Ever. It's either Manningham or Hixon on a short slant, or Smith somewhere in the middle. The few times Eli tried to go deep, his line didn't offer enough protection and he was forced to scramble. I'm not sure what the story is, but it's clear that we're missing a dynamic weapon at wideout.
2) The D-Backs are still very bad. Whenever Rivers tested them, they failed. Corey Webster, supposedly one of our best, got burned badly on a Z-cut on the final play. The rest of the crew were equally bad, giving huge cushions on short yardage situations, conceding the stop route, and sometimes missing coverage entirely.
3) Antonio Pierce is useless. I watched him specifically for two straight San Diego drives, and returned to him all game, and my verdict is that he's a complete waste of space. Which is the verdict I've returned for two straight years. He can't cover a running back out of the backfield, or an end at the goal line (one TD conceded this way), and when he tries to blitz it looks like a little kid throwing himself against a padded wall.
4) The D-line isn't generating enough pressure. 1 sack on Rivers yesterday, and otherwise he was harried very little. This absolutely has to change; a weak secondary looks even weaker when the QB has oodles of time to operate.
Okay, enough for now. It's a busy morning at work. Later this week we'll get into some Duke bball, and maybe some college football. Happy friggin' Monday.