Re-Focused – Giants @ Cardinals, Week 4

| October 5, 2011

On paper and even away from home, this looked like a game the Giants should expect to win, and though they did, it took a late-game comeback to get the job done.
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In truth, neither team looked particularly comfortable at any time in the game and the outcome wasn’t secured until the Cardinals’ final fourth down pass was broken up, allowing the Giants to kneel out the rest of the game and seal victory.
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New York will be happy to come away with a win that looked in doubt for much of the game, but they are unlikely to be pleased by how close they came to losing. They’ll need to tighten things up, even in the shaky-looking NFC East. The Cardinals fell back in the race for the NFC West, which might not be quite so easy to win this season as it has been.
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New York Giants – Three Performances of Note
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1) David Diehl may have just been bad all along.
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David Diehl was always out of his depth at left tackle, but since he was originally a guard by trade, we all just gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he was playing out of position. A move back to left guard this season has left us questioning that logic, and suggesting that there’s a very real possibility he just was never a particularly good player. His -4.7 PFF grade for this game is largely a reflection of the six pressures he gave up to add to the pressure and four sacks he had already been charged with on the year. He now sits firmly in the red in our rankings and you’ve got to wonder if the Giants need to continue their O-line overhaul.
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2) Eli Manning looks great in the clutch
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When you see glimpses of the play that Eli Manning showed during his run to the Super Bowl, and that miracle play to keep that game alive, it really is a pleasant thing to witness. The shame is that you usually have to watch three or four games where he is just the definition of frustratingly average in order to see them. This game showed the good Eli, and his +5.6 PFF grade came from a few exceptional throws, as well as some nice play avoiding pressure and finding the open man in the face of it. When blitzed in this game he had a QB rating of 125.7, and threw two touchdown passes.
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3) Who needs Prince?
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The last Giants game I analyzed I was pleased to see a good performance from former first round pick Aaron Ross. I was hopeful that we’d see continued good play if he could stay healthy. Well Ross had a good game against the Cardinals too, helped out by the fact that the Giants usually had Corey Webster matched up on Larry Fitzgerald. Ross wasn’t thrown at all game, but did make a couple of very nice plays in the run game, cutting Beanie Wells down for losses or short gains when he tried to turn the corner.
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Arizona – Three Performances of Note
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1) Turnstile tackles
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Levi Brown and Brandon Keith seem intent on matching themselves stride for stride in terms of allowing pressure and being generally beaten on the edge like red-headed stepchildren. The only thing that might break the deadlock is that Brown seems to be somehow immune from the bench, whereas Keith was yanked in this game after 31 snaps of poor play to be replaced by Jeremy Bridges. After four weeks of the season, the pair actually rank dead last and next to last in our Pass Blocking Efficiency figures for offensive tackles. Arizona can’t continue to play through this kind of performance.
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2) Kolb getting happy feet?
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I’m not sure if this is something inherent in Kevin Kolb, or if the play of the line in front of him is starting to have an effect, but Kolb was displaying a worrying pattern of happy feet in this game. It seemed pretty much impossible to convince him to stay in the pocket – even when pressure wasn’t coming – and by continually rolling out, he was putting himself in poor position to find receivers, inviting unblocked pressure, and causing the need for him to throw away five balls. His -0.8 Grade for the game represents a pretty awful performance from a quarterback, and you’ve got to hope that the Cardinals remember he’s a young passer who needs protection to develop.
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3) Dockett earning his reputation
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Darnell Dockett has been one of those players with a relatively undeserved reputation for years now. He is often talked about as one of the game’s best, but it came on the back of the highlight plays that his ridiculous physical gifts allowed him to make every now and then. The only problem is that he would often trade those for twice the number of plays where he was beaten soundly, usually in the run game where he often allowed himself to be caved in on the edge of the line of scrimmage. This season however, we’re seeing a player that matches the reputation. He’s still making the ridiculously good plays, tearing into the backfield to blow up runs and passes – and, if anything, there are more of them this season – but he has eliminated the poor play so far. His +6.6 grade for the game represents a pretty ridiculous grade for a player of his position.
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Game Notes
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• Larry Fitzgerald was thrown at 11 times, and came away with eight receptions for 102 yards. It should have been more but for some poor passes.

• Brandon Keith gave up three pressures and a sack in 31 snaps. Jeremy Bridges didn’t yield a pressure in 45. Decision made.

• Eli Manning completed 78.6% of his passes when pressured in this game
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PFF Game Ball:

Darnell Dockett, DE, Arizona Cardinals

Finally living up to his rep, and coming to a backfield near you.
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