Will The Real New York Giants Please Show Up?
I don't know where Eli Manning ranks this morning in the NFL's byzantine passer rating system. I know where he ranked before the kickoff of last night's New York Giants-Green Bay Packers game: he was 22nd among the league's starting 32 quarterbacks. He had thrown almost as man interceptions, 11, as TD passes, 12. His 7.3 yard per pass average was his lowest in four seasons. He had not throw a TD pass in three consecutive games, two of the losses for the Giants.
There's something in the Green Bay defense that brings Eli Manning to life. He threw 30 passes last night for 249 yards for 3 TDs with no interceptions. It was 17-7 before the first quarter was over, and already NBC executives, who had to lick their lips when they put this game on the schedule before the season, must have been cursing their luck. By halftime it was 31-10 with the Packers looking as ineffectual as they did in last season's playoff loss to the Giants with viewers dropping off by the million with every Green Bay punt.
Green bay's Aaron Rodgers came into the game with the league's highest passer rating and 27 TD passes against just 6 interceptions. The Giants' D was 20th in the league in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed; it looked like a sure mismatch.
Eli was facing a much tougher defense - Green Bay was 12th in yards allowed and 9th in point surrendered. But an early 61-yard TD pass to Jordy Nelson on a play which left Corey Webster hung out to dry was all the NFL's best quarterback would get this night. Without warning, the pass defense which had been riddled two weeks ago by the might Cincinnati Bengals shut out Rodgers and the Packers for nearly 3 ½ quarters, sacking him 5 times, knocking him down 5 other times, and hurrying him on four occasions.
What is it with these Giants? Last year they were a play away from being bounced out of the playoffs several times, finished a mediocre 9-7, and hung on to whip the Falcons, Packers, Forty-Niners, and Patriots. Can they pull a similar trick this season?
The Giants are 7-4, and I'm betting they have to win 3 of their last 5 to be a viable playoff team, Next week on Monday Night Football they play the Redskins and the fabulous Robert Griffin, III, on their home filed. And remember it took a miracle TD pass from Eli to Victor Cruz the last time out to beat the Skins. Then New Orleans at MetLife. Who dat who say dey gonna walk through the Saints? I do.
The next two games will be nasty. On Dec 16 the play Atlanta, who may be the best team in the NFC right now (10-1). That game will be in Atlanta, and the Falcons will be looking for revenge for last season's playoff humiliation at the hands of the Giants. Then Baltimore on Christmas Eve eve, also on the road, and the Ravens may be the best team in the AFC with the best defense in the league. The season closer against the Eagles at MetLife should be no more than a scrimmage-in-pads.
Which Giants will show up for these games, the team that was obliterated by Cincinnati or the one who dazzled a national audience against Rodgers and the Packers? Nothing the Giants have done so far this year even hints at an answer to that question.