Bengals 31,Giants 13: Slumping offense kicks itself in the rear

Let’s put this in perspective: the Giants needed to get back on track against the Bengals. Instead, they came out flat, were dominated in the trenches and handed the ball over in critical situations.

Read a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the Giants’ breakdown; get it?

There was the Eli Manning problems

Earlier this week, Manning denied that he could be in a slump. Super Bowl MVP — no such thing.

Manning finished 29-of-46 for just 215 yards, two picks and a 56.0 passer rating.

Well, with a descending passer rating with each passing game, here’s the telling statistic: Manning’s first 5 games this season: 11 TDs, 5 INT. Last 5 games: 1 TD, 6 INT.

On the afternoon, Manning was trying so hard to make plays when they just weren’t materializing. He forced throws into double coverage, he couldn’t escape the Bengals’ pass rush, and without his safety blanket in Victor Cruz and without much of a running game, he often looked a bit overwhelmed — the Eli Manning Giants have not seen in quite a few years.

There were the (continued) third-down problems

After going 2-for-10 on third-down conversions against the Steelers a week ago, the Giants extended their struggles. New York went 5-for-14 against the Bengals.

Obviously, third-downs are a product of how successful the team can be on the first two downs. The running game was non-existent early on, and anytime there was a sign of life there was a turnover to end the drive.

In place of a running game, there was a short-passing game between Manning and Nicks. And that was it.

The Bengals smothered Victor Cruz, they gang tackled Bradshaw and Brown, and their deficit put panic into the mind of Manning, who let it show with his performance.

There were the turnovers, which proved to be momentum-killers

It actually begins with a Giants forced turnover. After a Steve Weatherford punt, recently promoted Will Hill stripped the ball, positioning New York on the 27-yard line. The Giants could only move the ball four yards and had to settle for a field goal. Missed opportunity for sure.

Then, the disaster quarter.

In the third quarter, Big Blue handed the ball to Cincy thrice. Ahmad Bradshaw’s fumble killed the first signs of offensive life the unit had in the second half, and it happened to occur in the red zone.

The next time they got the ball, Manning could not evade the pass rush. He spun and twirled, much like a ballerina, then threw like one directly in the hands of Pat Simms. The Bengals turned that pick into another touchdown.

With a 18-point deficit, Manning rifles a beauty right into the chest of Nate Clements. It was Geno Atkins and the Bengals’ pass rush that made Manning so anxious. Trying to make something happen, he forced the ball into double coverage.

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