Jim Mancari, ContributorLet’s start off by saying that it is great that the Giants finally got into the win column.
But let’s be brutally honest: It was anything but pretty.
The Giants missed plenty of opportunities on offense in their 23-7 win Monday night over the Minnesota Vikings. This really could have been a 44-7 game, but again, for the struggling Giants, a win’s a win.
The Vikings’ defense came into the game ranked dead last in total defense, giving up 418.0 yards per game. Yet Big Blue could only muster 257 total yards.
Minnesota was ranked 30th against the pass at 308.0 yards per game, but Eli Manning only threw for 200. The Vikings also were giving up 110.0 rushing yards per game (20th in the league), and the Giants only came away with 64.
Finally, the Vikings had been giving up 31.6 points per game, and the G-Men only wound up with 23.
Overall, it was an ugly performance, and if the Giants think they are out of the woods because they finally won a game, they are very wrong.
Again, red zone efficiency has killed this team. The Giants finished just 1-of-4 in the red zone, and the touchdown came when the team started the drive on the opposing three-yard line.
Peyton Hillis ran hard in the absence of Brandon Jacobs. He was actually most effective catching passes out of the backfield – a facet of offense the Giants’ have lacked all season.
Even Michael Cox had a few good runs. But even so, the running game needs plenty of work.
As for Manning, he was under pressure for much of the night after another shaky performance from Big Blue’s offensive line. David Baas lasted just one drive in his return to the lineup as he left early with a knee injury.
Manning though did miss on plenty of throws. He had Hakeem Nicks open in the end zone and just overthrew him, and he also missed Hillis in the flats on what would have resulted in a first down.
It was nice to see a few extended drives at least. The opening drive lasted 17 plays and 9:36, which made it the longest drive based on time by any team in the NFL this season. It was also the Giants’ longest drive to open a game in 20 years. Yet, the Giants settled for a 35-yard Josh Brown field goal.
The Giants later rattled off a 16-play, 75-yard drive that last 8:31 seconds, but that too resulted in a Brown field goal – this time from 23 yards.
Big Blue dominated the time of possession battle (36:22 to 23:38), which would make it seem like the Giants should have earned a blowout, especially since Josh Freeman was totally inept at quarterback for the Vikings.
But instead, the Giants were lucky that some of Manning’s passes were not intercepted. There were more than a few opportunities for Minnesota’s secondary – one of which could have easily been a pick-six.
Victor Cruz had another good game based on the amount of times he was targeted. He caught five passes for 50 yards and always seemed to make the big play when necessary.
Meanwhile, Nicks continues to big an enigma. Granted, some of the throws were Eli’s fault, but Nicks managed just two catches on 10 targets.
Rueben Randle caught the only touchdown passes from Manning, as he made a good play on a ball that was thrown slightly behind him. Randle now has a touchdown grab in three straight games.
For what it’s worth, tight end Brandon Myers – who has been virtually non-existent this season – caught only two passes, but both accounted for third-down conversions.
So 1-6 is still terrible, and the Giants must continue to work out their issues to salvage this season.
Pretty much any other team in the league – except maybe the Jacksonville Jaguars – would have likely beaten the Giants Monday night. But luckily for Big Blue, they ran into one of the few teams playing worse than them right now.
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