ReFo: Raiders @ Giants, Week 10
It wasn’t pretty, and it took overcoming some ugly turnovers and poor plays, but the Giants were just about able to grind out a win against the Oakland Raiders at home and remain improbably in contention in an ugly looking NFC East.
The Raiders opened the game with almost the best possible start, turning over the Giants on the opening kick off and almost getting on the score board without yet taking the ball on offense. They ended up scoring two plays later anyway and though they made a few big plays throughout the game to keep them in it, their offense never really got anything going, looking especially weak with a noticeably hobbled Pryor under center.
The Giants finally found a running game and were able to control the clock for the second half, ticking off time and keeping their noses in front.
Oakland — Three Performances of Note
Stronger Than You
Sometimes success in the trenches really does come down to one guy being bigger and stronger than his opponents. That was the case today for Raiders DT Pat Sims. His +4.6 grade was comfortably the highest of his career and he controlled the Giants’ line, making plays against both the run and pass. Only LG Kevin Boothe seemed to have the brute strength to deal with Sims on his own, and anybody else the big defensive tackle faced was being rocked back and thrown around at the point of attack like a rag doll. Sims also got himself a knockdown and a hurry from the 12 times he was out there rushing the passer, displaying the kind of talent that Cincinnati was sure existed for years but could never convince him to produce. Was this a coming out party for Sims? Or did he just luck out against one of the league’s worst offensive lines? Time will tell.
Pryor Performances Just a Memory
A knee sprain seems like a trivial thing, but they can affect everything a player does, consciously or subconsciously, jacking already spotty mechanics and turning a player into a mess in an instant. Terrelle Pryor made a couple of nice plays in this game, and despite the Giants acting at times like they had never seen the read-option before, Pryor wasn’t physically in any great shape to exploit that. Some busted plays, taking unnecessary sacks and fumbles, and a couple of ugly misreads in coverage contributed to his -6.5 grade on the day, and the fact that he completed just 11 passes does tell much of the story already. He completed just 42.3% of his passes, albeit with three drops, but he completed just two when pressured, unable to put the ball exactly where he wanted it and out of sorts overall.
When LG Lucas Nix was’t the poorest performer on the O-line you know some Raiders probably had pretty bad days blocking. The struggles this time came at both tackle spots. Khalif Barnes (-3.9) and Menelik Watson (-2.9) both had their issues, with Barnes struggling to deal with life on the edge against one of the league’s best in the shape of Jason Pierre-Paul. The pair each surrendered a sack, and combined for five more hurries, but they were also drawing plenty of yellow laundry to the field. Watson was responsible for one penalty, while Barnes was flagged four times as he held rather too obviously when he was beaten on the play. The bright spot on the line came from C Stefen Wisniewski, who kept a clean sheet in pass protection and run blocked well against the Giants front.
New York Giants — Three Performances of Note
Finally a Running Game
It would be a mistake to look at the yardage Andre Brown put up and think the Giants remembered how to run block, because nothing could be further from the truth. In fact only Brown making some nice cuts to exploit unintended holes saved the unit from even poorer run blocking grades. Of Brown’s 115 yards, 55 of them came after contact and he consistently dragged Raiders defenders for a few yards before allowing them to bring him down. For a player to have come back from the kind of injury list as he has had and perform like this is something remarkable, and this was one of the better pure running performances you will see all year. About the only help he did get in the run game was from his lead blocker, John Connor, who blocked well all game. The Giants have been crying out for a running game all season and if Brown can continue to make things happen on his own like he did in this game then they might well just have found one.
Playing against a quarterback as erratic as Pryor was in this game is always going to help with coverage grades, but both Terrell Thomas and Trumaine McBride had fine outings in this game. Thomas, one of the best comeback stories of recent years after his succession of knee injuries, was thrown at six times and allowed just a single reception of 15 yards, coming on a broken play. McBride was thrown at four times and also allowed just a single catch, this one for 6 yards. McBride broke up a pass while Thomas was the beneficiary of Pryor misreading the coverage to take an interception back most of the way for a score. Thomas hasn’t played at this level all season but this is now two fine performances on the bounce for a guy plenty thought would never play at a high level again. If he can show this kind of form down the stretch it will be a comeback story to match any in recent years.
Weather Affects Weatherford
In one of the worst punting displays you’ll see, Steve Weatherford seemed totally unable to make a clean contact with the football, shanking punts, hitting them with no hang time, and line-driving the ball. His hang time was routinely under three seconds and only some excellent coverage from his punt team saved him from returns. It was a strange display of punting, with Weatherford seemingly unable to connect properly with the ball in tricky conditions. He was spared further disaster as a punt was blocked up the middle, but carried just far enough to sneak over the line of scrimmage to avoid going down as a blocked punt in the official statistics. Though that wasn’t his fault, it sums up the kind of day he was having nicely.
– Of 22 pass attempts, Eli Manning aimed right outside the numbers just five times, but he did complete four of them, scoring a touchdown in the process.
– Pryor had three passes dropped, another batted at the line, another batted just beyond the line, and threw four balls away in the course of the game. His accuracy was poor, but perhaps not as poor as it first looked.
– Two players missed three tackles each in this game, Justin Tuck for the Giants and Nick Roach for the Raiders.
PFF Game Ball
Though Rashad Jennings deserves some credit for his day, Andre Brown stole the show and the game for the Giants with his performance.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam