Legendary senior writer, Packers lead blogger & NFC featured columnist jclombardi’s insider final reviews & grades.
SUMMARY: Giants QB Manning threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to WR Randle and RB Jacobs ran for another to help the Giants (4-6) defeat the Packers (5-5), who suffered their third straight loss. In the turning point of the game, DE Pierre-Paul made an impressive 24-yard fourth-quarter interception touchdown return sealing the 27-13 victory over the slumping Packers.
GAME BALLS: CB Williams. WR Nelson. WR Boykin. ILB Jones.
INJURY REPORT: DL Jolly (groin). CB Nixon (knee).
PASSING OFFENSE: C vs C vs C. With decent pass protection, Tolzien completed 24 of 34 passes for 339 yards, 3 interceptions, no touchdowns, and 65.7 poor passer rating. As Fox analyst Siragusa said:
Standing right behind Scott Tolzien and that offense, watching him. He has to do a better job of selling the fake on the play action. It seems like he is rushing the ball. Rushing for it to come out a little bit. Not really making good decisions back there. He has some other receivers he needs to look for down the field and try and stretch the field against this Giants defense.
As for his three interceptions, SE provided the right assessment:
He underthrew WR Jones on a deep crossing route, allowing linebacker Jon Beason to make the pick dropping into coverage. The most damaging miscue came in the early 4th quarter, when DE Pierre-Paul leaped in front of Tolzien's quick low throw out to TE Quarless on the left side, snagged the ball in the air, and ran 24 yards for a touchdown to account for the final 27-13.
WR Boykin had another big game with 6 catches for 91 yards. WR Nelson had 8 catches for 117 yards.. WR Jones had 2 catches for 55 yards. TE Bostick had 1 catch for 26 yards. Grading the offense line in pass protection (no sacks), LT Dakhtiari was marginally okay (1 ½ pressures), Center Dietrich-Smith was okay (with bad knee), RG Sitton was solid, RG Lang did fine, and RT Newhouse was marginal (4 ½ pressures).
RUSHING OFFENSE: D vs D- vs D. While the offensive line gave up no sacks, they failed to open up lanes against a stacked Giants defensive box and poor Packers blocking at the perimeters. The Packers got only 55 total rushing yards. Rookie sensation RB Lacy had 14 carries for only 27 yards. The Giants got first contact no more than 2 yards downfield on his 14 carries and got first contact at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield on eight carries During recent weeks to stop him, defenses stack the box bringing safeties down, bringing corners in, and bring personnel off the slot.
ESPN explained the defensive game plan against the Packers:
It did not take long to figure out how teams were going to defend the Green Bay Packers without quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The plan against them the past two weeks has been the same: load the box with defenders and gang up on the run. During that time, the Packers have faced seven or more defenders in the box nearly twice as often as they did during the first eight games of the season, when opposing defensive coordinators had game planned for Rodgers.
PASSING DEFENSE: C vs C- vs B-. The Packers gave up 394 net total yards in an inconsistent average performance. Facing porous pass coverage (excluding CB Williams) with very little pass rush until the 4th quarter, Giants QB Manning dissected the Packers intermediate defensive zone completing 25 of 35 passes for 279 yards, touchdown, interception, and 92.4 passer rating. Giants WRs Cruz, Nicks and Randle combined for 15 catches totaling 197 yards and touchdown.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning followed the blueprint of Packers recent opponents by exploiting a back end of cornerbacks and safeties who can't seem to be in the right place and when they do wind up running into one another. Manning had five completions of at least 15 yards. Two of those went for at least 25 yards to WR Cruz, who inflicted most of his damage out of the slot, often matched against Packers rookie CB Hyde. Also, Hyde was beat for a 26-yard touchdown throw from Manning to WR Randle down the middle. WR Hicks also added to the Packers' ongoing pass-coverage misery with a 35-yard reception with three defensive backs in the vicinity.
In the bright spots, Packers defenders Jones, Hawk, Matthews and Neal picked up sacks (all in the 4th quarter). CB Williams had a solid game with 8 tackles & interception.
Baranczyk & Christl provide the overall perspective about Packers defense:
A cockamamie theory was floated earlier this season that the Packers had gotten bigger on defense and, therefore, nastier, more physical and better. But the most physical and surest tackling defenses are the most explosive, not necessarily the biggest. Size helps, but it isn’t nearly as important as speed, power and quickness. The Packers have very few of them on their defense, and when they’re forced to react rather than attack for much of the game they’re another step slower. That might best explain why the Packers aren’t getting turnovers. Offenses are playing stress-free against the Packers. There’s no pass rush. They’re not being forced to keep up on the scoreboard. It’s like a scrimmage for them: Run the ball a little bit, throw the ball a little bit and head to the showers feeling smug about their effort.
RUSHING DEFENSE: C+ vs B- vs C-. While the Packers defense limited the Giants to 78 total rushing yards, the Giants made big plays in critical short-yardage runs. Giants RB Brown had 66 yards on 18 carries averaging 3.7 ypc. Jacobs, who had only nine yards in five carries, also had a one-yard touchdown run in the final seconds of the third quarter. As a bright spot for the Packers, ILB Brad Jones had two of the Packers' three takedowns behind the line of scrimmage finishing with 13 tackles (11 solo).
SPECIAL TEAMS: C vs C vs C. Kicker Crosby connected from 27 yards and 54 yards. Also, on 3 kickoffs, he averaged 68.3 yards and 3.84 seconds of hang time. Punter Masthay's four-punt averaged 45 yards (gross), 37 (net) and 4.35 (hang time). Except for Giants WR/PR Randle's 32 yards punt return, the Packers coverage was solid including Banjo's two inside-the-20 tackles on kickoffs. Rookie KR/PR Hyde averaged 23 yards on 3 kickoffs and 11.3 yards on 3 punts getting what was there.
COACHING: D vs C- vs ?. Again, Head Coach McCarthy & Defensive Coordinator Capers failed to deliver solid game plans and game management. Further, McCarthy’s decision to go for a fake punt backfired as safety Jennings only gain six yards on the 4th & 7 down. Then, on the ensuing drive with excellent field position, the Giants scored a touchdown. Also, the Packers were only 2 for 8 on third downs and 1 for 2 in the red zone. Further, to get penalized for having 12 men on the field on both defense and offense in the game's first two series was inexcusable for a professional football team.
For a third straight week, McCarthy got outcoached, outmuscled & outplayed by another motivated physical team, specifically the average NY Giants from the mediocre NFC East Division. Unfortunately, it’s an old pattern. In the 2012 season, they lost to the Giants in an embarrassing blowout. In the 2011 season the Packers were 15-1, but they lost to the Giants in the 1st playoff home game. In the 2007 NFC Championship home game, they lost to the Giants Further, from the opening series with two straight runs and one failed 3rd down pass play, his vanilla game plan was predictable heading for disastrous day. As fans know, Giants DE Pierre-Paul predicted the big pass play that he intercepted for a touchdown return.
OVERALL: D vs ? vs C. We are not surprised at another prime time disgusting and embarrassing loss. In recent years, against motivated physical teams, HC McCarthy's team gets outplayed, outmuscled, and outcoached. Further, fans already know that the Packers will start QB Tolzien against the Vikings. Meanwhile, the fluff Packers sports press (to protect their miserable jobs while they glorify their egos with lattes) and mediocre (who?) bloggers will write endless boring nauseating fluff stories about QB Rodgers long term health and when he will be back for the what game?