02-06-2012, 07:57 PM
RE-FOCUSED: GIANTS @ PATRIOTS, SUPER BOWL XLVI (http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/02/06/re-focused-giants-patriots-super-bowl-xlvi/)

"There was a sense of déjà vu in the lead up to the 46th
Super Bowl on Sundayand the game didn’t disappoint, delivering a game full of
intrigue and drama, that resulted in the New York Giants taking their second
Super Bowl in the last five, the franchise’s fourth, and making the New England
Patriots wait at least one more year to add their own fourth Super Bowl.

Much of the pre-game build up revolved around the dominance of individual
units and individual positional groups but throughout the course of sixty
minutes each team’s defense and each team’s offense had spells where they had a
clear upper hand on the opposition ensuring that neither team could get out of
sight. Ten points is the magic barrier in the Super Bowl but each team fell just
short of this margin and instead it was the final swing of the pendulum, a 12-0
scoring run from midway through the third quarter, back towards the Giants that
proved decisive. Once again it was the Giants’ offense taking control of the
ball with the game on the line that proved decisive as it has in the prior two
encounters between these two teams. The Patriots recognized this and tried
everything to get Tom Brady the ball back with time to win the game, but 80
yards in 57 seconds proved too much.</p>

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This game may have been short
on the memorable plays of recent Super Bowls, Mario Manningham’s sideline play
aside which should stand as an all-time great Super Bowl play (for the throw as
much as the catch), but it delivered consistent intrigue and drama with momentum
swinging back and forth. There is always a slightly melancholy air to Super Bowl
reviews, this was the last competitive game for seven months, so for the final
time this season join us as we take a look at some key performances from Super
Bowl XLVI.<span style="COLOR: #008000; FONT-SIZE: medium">

<span style="COLOR: #008000; FONT-SIZE: medium">New York – Three
Performances of Note</span></p>

<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">Delivering when the heat is

The law of averages might have suggested that the pressure should catch up
with Eli Manning in this game, but the law of averages haven’t
reckoned with his 2011 season which he capped off with a well-deserved Super
Bowl MVP award (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+8.2</span> PFF
grade) after another fine performance, once again in the face of pressure.
Manning was pressured on 17 of his 43 dropbacks in this game and though early
sacks might have suggested that the pressure would get to Manning in this game
he quickly rediscovered his form. For the game Manning was 12-for-14 on passes
under pressure picking up an NFL QB rating of 105.4 and gaining nearly three
yards more per attempt when he waspressured. It wasn’t just in the face of heat
from the Patriots’ pass rush that Manning delivered though as once again as the
pressure rose late in the game Manning and his receivers, this time
Mario Manningham (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+1.1</span>) delivered in the most
spectacular of fashions. Manningham’s catch was excellent down the sideline with
a hit coming and only inches to play with, but Manning’s throw off of the back
foot with Vince Wilfork walking Kevin Booth
back to Manning was equally as impressive. The Giants quarterbacks and receivers
have carried them all season long, it was fitting that once again that was the
case in their most important game of the season.<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">

<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">Interior pass rush steps

Make that four out of six rematches in which the Giants have raised their
game in the pass rushing stakes this season. Back in Week 9 the Giants’
defensive linemen were held largely in check by the Patriots but in a flashback
to Super Bowl XLII the Giants pass rushers got the upper hand in this game. The
stars off of the edge were, as expected, Justin Tuck (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+4.1</span>) and Jason
Pierre-Paul (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+5.1</span>), with Tuck providing the
key plays in the second half and Pierre-Paul using his hands to be a difference
maker early when stopped from reaching Tom Brady. However it was the
contribution of the interior pass rushers that shouldn’t be overlooked in this
game, with not only Tuck &amp; Pierre-Paul contributing as interior pass rushers
but also the Giants’ base defensive tackle pairing of Linval
Joseph (+1.0) and Chris Canty (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+2.9</span>) who made their presence
felt in this game. They combined to record one hit and six pressures on Tom
Brady with Joseph matching his season high with four total pressures on just 19
times rushing the passer. They also proved a deterrent in the running game as
well with the Patriots only attempting eight rushes between the tackle, picking
up just over 3.5 yards per carry on those runs.<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">

<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">Fringe performers make the

An argument could be made for the fact that this game swung on one turnover
that did happen and three turnovers that didn’t, as players not quite in the New
York spotlight made a huge difference in the turnover differential column and
helped the Giants on their way. The first and most obvious contributor was
Chase Blackburn (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+1.5</span>) who was the beneficiary of
an underthrown pass byBrady who simply hit the edge of his range trying to find
Rob Gronkowski down the field. Blackburn redeemed himself on
two counts on that play, recovering after allowing Gronkowski behind him on the
play, but also atoning for a shoddy attempt in man coverage against
Aaron Hernandez on the play that established the Patriots’
eight point lead. On offense the Giants’ hustle diving on loose balls kept them
in the game late,although it wasan uncharacteristic penalty on the Patriots
thatspared Victor Cruz’s blushes early on. Only the quick
thinking and high motor of Henry Hynoski (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+2.4</span>) and Chris
Snee (+0.8) prevented the Giants from giving the ball
away on what would otherwise have been potentially back breaking turnovers,
particularly Snee’s recovery which almost certainly saved the game for the
Giants early in the fourth quarter. A further touchdown and a nine point lead
for the Patriots at that stage might have proved insurmountable.</p>

<span style="COLOR: #008000; FONT-SIZE: medium">New England – Three
Performances of Note</span></p>

<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">Defensive line

The biggest reason for the Patriots’ AFC Championship game success pulled a
complete 180 in the Super Bowl, becoming one of the fundamental reasons for
their defeat to the Giants, as the defensive line simply couldn’t make a
consistent impact on the game. The Giants made liberal use of double teams in
run and pass games and, whether they were worn down or disheartened by this
tactic, when presented with one on one situations against inferior linemen they
simply couldn’t make an impact. Vince Wilfork (<span style="COLOR: #ff0000">-2.5</span>) was a one man wrecking crew
in the championship game, but recorded a single pressure and no stops on Super
Bowl Sunday. Mark Anderson (-1.0) recorded two
sacks, but nothing more in the entire game as he saw his fair share of double
teams. Going up against the worst pass protecting line in the league the
Patriotscouldn’t make theone-on-one matchups tell enough to disrupt Eli
Manning in the pocket on a consistent basis. The Patriots’ most effective
defensive linemen all game long were Shaun Ellis (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+1.7</span>) and Gerard
Warren (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+3.7</span>) who
each put in one of their best games of the season when it counted, unfortunately
their teammates didn’t match that level of play.<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">

<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">Right side

One of the question marks entering this game for the Patriots would be who
would start at right tackle, Sebastian Vollmer, playing the
better football but struggling with injury,or rookie Nate
Solder, likely the safer option on health grounds. In the end both
started, with the Patriots opening with a six man line, and both saw extended
playing time with neither young player covering themselves in glory. Solder
(<span style="COLOR: #ff0000">-4.2</span>) played 29 snaps
yielding four pressures on only 18 pass plays whilst Vollmer (<span style="COLOR: #ff0000">-3.9</span>) fared little better on his
41 snaps yielding one hit and six pressures on 30 pass plays. The two combined
to yield 11 total pressures giving up pressure just over once every four plays,
with Brady seeing each pressure coming and looking unsettled by it. In two prior
playoff games Tom Brady (+0.1) saw pressure on
just 13 dropbacks, in Super Bowl XLVI he was pressured on 20 of his 43 drop
backs and his QB rating plummeted from 122.0 with no pressure, including his two
touchdowns, to 51.6 on plays where he was pressured. The Patriots’ right tackles
weren’t alone, Logan Mankins (<span style="COLOR: #ff0000">-4.1</span>) continued his subpar
season, yielding one sack and three pressures in this game as he turned in his
fourth game with a grade of<span style="COLOR: #ff0000">
-2.0</span> or below this season, as many as he recorded inthe
previous three seasons combined.<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">

<span style="FONT-SIZE: small">Defense steps up but no big play in
the crunch</span></p>

This game was an evenly matched one and it could be argued that it came down
to delivery in the crunch and the ability to create, make or finish that one big
play. In an all too common theme for New England they saw the Giants do that
whilst their own opportunities slipped through their fingers. The weakness in
the New England defense has been thinly veiled all season long and on this
occasion it was Devin McCourty (<span style="COLOR: #ff0000">-1.3</span> coverage) and
Antwaun Molden (<span style="COLOR: #ff0000">-2.1</span> coverage) who were the most
ineffective in coverage. Sterling Moore yielded more yards,
butgot in to break up a handful of passes either playing the man or the ball.
McCourty &amp; Molden combined to allow all 11 passes targeted to their coverage
for 117 yards as Hakeem Nicks victimized them in this game. The
Patriots created the potential for game breaking plays on defense, twice prizing
the ball loose from New York ball carriers. If the ball bounces differently or
breaks to a New England defender would we be lauding Brandon
Spikes (<span style="COLOR: #008000">+1.5</span>) or
Jerod Mayo (<span style="COLOR: #ff0000">-1.7</span>) as heroes this morning for
causing crucial turnovers in a New England victory?<span style="COLOR: #008000; FONT-SIZE: medium">

<span style="COLOR: #008000; FONT-SIZE: medium">Game

- For the second straight playoff game the Giants defense recorded 27 total
pressures. They recorded three more sacks in San Francisco, but got more
production from interior pass rushers in this game.</p>

- Tom Brady’s completion percentage on passes aimed less than ten yards
downfield: 92%, on passes aimed ten or more yards downfield: 40%.</p>

- Jerod Mayo registered more tackles than any other defender with 11, but
only two of those were defensive stops.</p>

<span style="COLOR: #008000; FONT-SIZE: medium"></span></p>

<span style="COLOR: #008000; FONT-SIZE: medium">PFF Game

His quarterback was rightfully awarded the MVP award but Justin
Tuck delivered in the crunch and came up with, arguably, two of the
three most important defensive plays of the game. Tuck’s three highest graded
games of the season came against the Jets, in San Francisco in the championship
game and last night in Indianapolis. Overall this season was disappointing from
Tuck but when it mattered most he delivered in spades.</p>

03-03-2012, 03:35 PM
Way to go Justin Tuck!!!