By Curt Macysyn
The New York Giants (4-9) finally came into contact with an opponent who has as many injuries as they have, and less talent as well. Together that combination helped New York throttle the hapless Tennessee Titans (2-12) by a 36-7 score and break a seven-game losing streak in the process.
From a talent standpoint, the Giants’ skill players were noticeably better than what the Titans had to offer. The opponents had no answer for rookies Andre Willaims and Odell Beckham, Jr. And given time in the pocket, Eli Manning was able to pick apart an inferior Titans’ secondary, save for one incredibly poor decision that resulted in a pick six for the home team in the third quarter by rookie Marqueston Huff for their only score of the contest.
TEAM OFFENSE: B+
An almost certain recipe for victory in the NFL starts with one part 100-yard rusher, and Andre Williams ran for 131 yards on 24 carries, including a nicely blocked 50-yard touchdown scamper early in the third quarter. Williams’ average of 5.5 yards per carry was, by far, the best of the season. Previously, Williams had a 4.4 yards per carry average in, you guessed it, the Giants’ last victory, a win over the Washington Redskins on Sept. 25th.
Adding a 100-yard receiver to a 100-yard rusher increases your chances of victory exponentially, and that is exactly what Big Blue got today. Dynamic rookie Odell Beckham, Jr. caught 11 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. OBJ was uncontrollable for the Titans, especially in the first half when the Giants pushed out to a 23-0 lead.
Preston Parker has become Manning’s second favorite target, supplanting tight end Larry Donnell, who had no fumbles, but did drop another easy catch on Sunday. Parker was targeted five times, and he caught all five passes for 60 yards.
Overall, Manning was 26-42 for 260 yards and a touchdown to Beckham. A half grade deduction for the offense comes via Manning’s terrible decision that cost the Giants a shut out when he threw an ill-advised pass on the run that was returned 23-yards by Marqueston Huff for a touchdown. In addition to Donnell’s drop, Beckham also let a possible touchdown pass slip through his hands in the fourth quarter.
TEAM DEFENSE: B+
Because of injuries to the Titans’ Taylor Lewan and Michael Oher, the Giants’ pass rush was facing two back-up offensive tackles. Under that scenario, Big Blue should have dominated the trenches on the defensive side of the ball, and they did. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had a dominant game with incessant pressure on rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. JPP ended up with two sacks on the afternoon, and he also had seven tackles in the game.
Outside linebacker Devon Kennard fills the holes in the running game, and he is also an effective pass rusher. Kennard represents an upgrade at the linebacker position because he is a sure tackler who gets into the backfield, instead of making tackles downfield. The rookie from Southern California had two quarterback sacks, in addition to six tackles on the afternoon.
Jameel McClain was all over the field, and he comes much less expensively than Jon Beason. McClain has become a leader of the unit because he plays hard and makes plays. He had eight tackles in the game and pitched in with a QB sack. The defensive unit took full advantage of the disruption on the Titans’ offensive line with eight sacks of Zach Mettenberger and his replacement, Jake Locker. Markus Kuhn took advantage of one of the sacks to scoop up a Mettenberger fumble and run untouched for a 26-yard touchdown. It was the Giants first defensive touchdown of the season.
The G-men would have had a second defensive touchdown as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played possum with Mettenberger to intercept an out pattern early in the fourth quarter, but Damontre Moore took an ill-advised penalty by knocking the Titans’ quarterback down during the play in a total unnecessary move. Moore had two sacks in the game, but you have to wonder if the second-year player will ever get it. DRC’s interception stood, but the return TD was negated.
It was hard not to notice cornerback Mike Harris, who played his assignments well, and he had a quarterback sack on a well designed blitz in the third quarter. Titans’ rookie running back Bishop Sankey could never get going with 25 rushing yards on nine carries, an anemic 2.8 yards per carry average. Is it possible that the Jayron Hosley experiment is over?
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
In a first, the special teams unit gets a half grade deduction because of special teams coach Tom Quinn’s stupid hissy fit with punter Steve Weatherford. Quinn was angry that Weatherford, who averaged 46.5 yards per kick, booted one into the end zone for a touchback. In this season of mishap after mishap, a touchback should be a relatively low priority, but apparently Quinn did not see it that way. By the way, Weatherford’s other punts resulted in a four-yard return and two fair catches.
Kicker Josh Brown had his most active day of the season. Brown hit five field goals in five attempts with a long of 52 yards. He also had six touchbacks in nine kickoff attempts. The Titans averaged 21.0 yards per kickoff return, and they never had a field position advantage in the game.
In addition to his pass receiving exploits, Odell Beckham returned four punts for 49.yards with a long of 21 yards. It simply will be a matter of time before OBJ returns a punt for a touchdown.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.