By Curt Macysyn
Words can not accurately describe what went on between the New York Giants (4-4) and the New Orleans Saints (4-4) at the Superdome on Sunday. For certain, the offenses were that good, but the defenses were also that bad. With neither defense able to stop the other team’s offense, the game was a roller coaster affair that saw the score tied five different times. With the defenses unable to stop each other’s offenses, it seemed like the first team team to capitalize on a mistake would win, which is exactly what the Giants did midway through the fourth quarter.
Trumaine McBride snatched a Willie Snead fumble and rumbled 58 yards to pay dirt as Big Blue forged ahead 49-42 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. But the Saints came back to life as Drew Brees threw his seventh touchdown of the game to C.J. Spiller to knot the contest at 49-49 with 41 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, the Giants went three and out, and punted to New Orleans, as overtime loomed.
Marcus Murphy returned Brad Wing’s punt 24 yards, but coughed up the football, and his fumble was recovered by teammate Willie Snead, who was tackled immediately by Wing. In the process, Wing also grabbed Snead’s facemask, even though by rule Snead could not advance the ball in the last two minutes. The additional fifteen yards gained by the personal foul penalty put the Saints in field goal range, so Forbath could stroke his first field goal in the Big Easy as time expired for the victory.
Overall, the offense had a tremendous day as Eli Manning threw six touchdown passes, keeping pace with Drew Brees throughout the contest. Manning was 30-41 for 350 yards on the afternoon, and he had a quarterback rating of 138.2 in the Superdome. Not bad.
Odell Beckham also had a successful return to his old stomping grounds with eight catches for 130 yards and three TD catches. Rueben Randle had five catches for 55 yards, and Shane Vereen had eight grabs out of the backfield, including a touchdown. Dwayne Harris continued to impress with three catches, but two went for touchdowns, both in the fourth quarter. The running game was serviceable with Rashad Jennings picking up 54 yards on the ground in 10 carries (5.4 yards per carry).
Drew Brees was an equal opportunity assassin, as he methodically victimized almost everyone on the defense. For a franchise that used to pride itself on defense, the offensive numbers the Saints piled up were breathe-taking. New Orleans compiled 614 yards in total offense, with 511 yards in the passing game alone. Big Blue’s defense must have thought that Jimmy Graham never left Bourbon Street, as they let Benjamin Watson run free to the tune of nine catches for 147 yards and a touchdown.
The 2007 version of Marques Colston returned with eight grabs for 114 yards and a touchdown. Both Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks had two touchdown catches each, and Mark Ingram had 80 rushing yards in the offensive assault. Once again, the Giants’ dormant pass rush yielded very little in terms of quarterback pressure, and they had zero sacks on the afternoon. In an afternoon full of blown coverage and missed assignments, only Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie looked the part of an NFL defender, forcing the Snead fumble and intercepting Brees deep in Giants’ territory. Overall, the front four has no bite and the linebackers struggle mightily in pass defense, just ask Ben Watson. The safety play continues to be inconsistent at best with rookie Landon Collins and Brandon Meriweather.
Special Teams: B
Josh Brown’s kickoffs were more effective this week, and the Giants really won the field position battle all day. Brown also made all seven extra points on the afternoon. Kickoff return specialists, Shane Vereen and Dwayne Harris, averaged 34 yards per kickoff return. Brad Wing had a good effort minus the final punt, as he averaged 53.0 yards per punt, the best we have seen this year.
In the end, however, special teams blew it as Wing punted the ball to Marcus Murphy on the next to last play of the game, and he gained 24 yards to set the Saints up for the final field goal.
The final Brad Wing punt should have been kicked out of bounds, not allowing for a return. That one is on the coaches.
It is hard to pin this one entirely on the coaching staff as the G-men matched the Saints score for score. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could have tried to get Brees a little more uncomfortable in the pocket with some well timed blitz packages. Brees was usually allowed to survey the field and find a wide open receiver because of multiple blown coverages. While the focus could be on blitz packages and schemes, the reality is that there only so much the coaches can do with the defensive talent level of this team.
The Giants are on the road again next week as they Take on the Buccaneers in Tampa. New York remains in the NFC East lead as the Cowboys lost a fifth straight game and the Eagles and Redskins were on bye.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.