ReFo: Packers @ Giants, Week 12
The New York Giants had been in something of a funk in recent weeks, while the Packers had been on a roll since taking it to Houston for the Texans’ only loss of the season — but you wouldn’t have known it from watching this game. The Giants came out and throttled the Packers, giving Aaron Rodgers no time in the pocket and nowhere to go either with the ball or with his legs, limiting the high-octane Green Bay offense to just 10 points.
On the other side, despite some hiccups from Eli Manning, the Giants were able to move the ball pretty much at will, either running or through the air as the Packers were simply unable to consistently get off the field, unless it was after giving up a score.
As Cris Collinsworth said on the broadcast, there are some games where you just burn the tape, and this might be one of those for the Packers, who will look to the postseason for a chance of redemption if both sides make it. Assuming they didn’t burn the tape though, what would they see?
Green Bay – Three Performances of Note
The Giants were able to put Rodgers under pressure all game long, but much of the credit has to go to the coverage that forced Rodgers to back away from his timing routes and hold the ball longer than he normally does. After Corey Webster jumped a short route to intercept Rodgers, the Giants were able to really choke off the short, rhythm passes that Green Bay usually thrives on and buy their front four enough time to bring pressure. Though they gave up a lot, the average time to a Rodgers sack was 3.55 seconds, a full second slower than Rodgers’ average time to throw for the season of 2.56 seconds. Marshall Newhouse and T.J. Lang were the main source of the heat, each surrendering a sack and a hit, while adding seven additional hurries between them. Rodgers wasn’t at fault for the pressure (we didn’t charge any of it to him directly), but he was forced to hold onto the ball longer than normal, and this had a clear effect.
In Need of the Claymaker
The biggest issue for the Packers for a while now has been the lack of a viable source of pass-rush outside of Clay Matthews. That problem is even more apparent when Matthews is out injured and suddenly the collection of players that couldn’t even form complementary pressure now have to come up with all of it. As you might expect, they failed. Erik Walden and Dezman Moses were the primary outside linebackers, though Frank Zombo saw 31 snaps as well, and the three players combined for just two total pressures. Moses notched a sack and a hurry, and batted a pass down late in the game, and that left Walden and Zombo combining for absolutely zero pressure over 29 pass rushing snaps.
There weren’t many, but a few players stood up to be counted despite the blowout. B.J. Raji had his best game for some time, bringing some impressive pressure up the middle. He accounted for five hurries, more than half the entire tally by the Packers’ defense. Rookie Casey Hayward continued his excellent rookie season in coverage, despite trying to keep track of Victor Cruz for much of the day. He was rarely thrown at, just twice all game, with one of them being nullified by a penalty, but he did bat the ball away from Cruz and nearly intercepted a route that he cut off from the outset.
New York Giants – Three Performances of Note
PFF has been hard on David Diehl down the years, so it’s only fair that when he does have a good performance we highlight it. He lasted only 30 plays before going to the bench injured and being replaced by Sean Locklear, but in those snaps he kept a clean sheet in pass protection, and made a couple of nice blocks in the run game on the edge. Locklear to his credit did little wrong when he came in, but did surrender a hurry. Overall I think this is still a job Locklear should have on merit, but on this occasion Diehl justified his starting position with a fine performance, ranking as the only Giants lineman not to surrender any pressure during the game.
The Giants can still bring the heat when they have a little time to work with, and with the coverage forcing Rodgers to hold onto the ball a little longer, they were able to saddle up and collapse the pocket from all angles. Osi Umenyiora was the player to take biggest advantage of the Green Bay tackles this time, earning a strip-sack, a hit and three more hurries. Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul also brought some heat, adding seven total pressures between them, and even oft-forgotten Mathias Kiwanuka had his fair share, earning himself a sack, two hits and four pressures to actually lead the team in total pressure. The weight of the pressure and the volume of it on its own wasn’t what was paying dividends for the Giants, it was the fact they were able to collapse the pocket from multiple areas at once, regularly leaving Rodgers with nowhere to go when he felt the first wave coming.
Ground and Pound
The Giants were able to run the ball at will for much of the game. Ahmad Bradshaw rattled off 58 yards and a touchdown from his 10 carries, not to mention his 59-yard catch and run early in the game to put them in scoring position. Andre Brown was having a very nice game, rushing for 64 yards and a touchdown on his 13 carries, before he went down with a broken leg. Those two provided a fantastic bedrock for the Giants’ offense, and even though top draft pick David Wilson could manage only 13 yards from his six carries late in the game as the Giants tried to milk the clock, the team averaged 4.7 yards per rushing attempt. To be fair to Wilson he was running like a man who had been told he would be losing a close personal part of his body if he fumbled the ball at that point in the game, so was essentially just taking what was there as he wrapped the ball as tightly as humanly possible.
– The Giants tried to hit Hakeem Nicks with an end zone fade four times in this game. It ended 0 of 4.
– Prince Amukamara was targeted just once by the Packers, and didn’t allow a catch during the game.
– Against pressure, Aaron Rodgers actually had a QB rating of 90.5, but it was when the Giants just played coverage that he struggled. With no blitz his rating was 54.9, with a yard per attempt figure of 6.0 and an interception.
PFF Game Ball
Overshadowed at times by JPP, Osi Umenyiora was the player to have the biggest effect on this game.
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