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    Excerpt: "Justin Tuck didn’t sleep much on Sunday night. He was too busy thinking.

    About the
    loss to the Packers
    . About the Giants’ upcoming four games, two of which are
    against the team they trail by one game – the division leading Cowboys. And
    about the way the Giants’ intensity level can be so high one week and so very
    low the next.

    “What kept me up was I know the Saints are a great football team but nobody
    would say the Saints are better than the Packers,” Tuck said on Monday night
    after signing autographs with three of his teammates at Garden State Plaza in
    Paramus as part of a holiday toy drive. “So how did we come out one week and
    play like we did and then come out this week and play like we did? And two weeks
    ago play like we did against Philly and go out to San Francisco and have an
    opportunity to beat them out there?

    “I mean, it doesn’t make any sense to me. Do I need to go see a shrink?”

    The best treatment for Tuck and the Giants is to come out on Sunday in Texas
    and play as well as they did in the last-second loss to the Packers, not like
    the did the previous week when they were hammered in New Orleans. A victory
    against the Cowboys would tie both teams at 7-6 overall and 2-2 in the division.
    (The third tiebreaker is common games. The Cowboys are 7-4 to the Giants’ 6-4
    right now.)

    One would think this weekend’s game and the implications surrounding it would
    be enough for the Giants to get motivated. But the past four games – all losses
    – were certainly big ones as well. The Giants didn’t play with enough passion in
    two of them.

    “Physically, I think we prepare better than anybody in the country. Mentally,
    sometimes we have those lapses,” Tuck said. “Why? I don’t know. I’m as guilty as
    the next guy. It’s just something we’ve got to continue to work on.

    “Coach (Tom) Coughlin says all the time just be more mentally tough.”

    It was suggested to Tuck, as the players are wont to say, the other guys get
    paid, too, meaning they’re motivated as well. To which he replied, “But I don’t
    think the Saints get paid double than we get, do they?”

    Very true.

    “You just don’t have that spark some nights,” he said. “If you never played
    the game, I don’t expect you to realize what I’m saying but some nights you’ve
    got to trick yourself, you have to mind trick yourself. It’s tough sometimes,
    but that’s what you’ve got to do because it’s hard when your body’s beat up.

    “I know a lot of people don’t understand that. They say you’re getting paid a
    million dollars to play a game.”



    Excerpt: "Ahmad Bradshaw took the swing pass from Eli Manning on the game’s first play
    from scrimmage on Sunday and showed what the Giants' offense had been the missing for
    four games.

    Four yards downfield, the running back met Green Bay Packers defenders but
    kept his feet — one of which he fractured in Week 8 against the Miami Dolphins —
    moving, and fought through four Packers for an extra 3 yards.

    Although it was a pass play, it foreshadowed what followed for the Giants
    running backs and rushing game, which accumulated 100 yards in the
    38-35 loss against the Packers
    — the team’s first 100-yard game since
    rushing for 111 against the New England Patriots on Nov. 6.

    “Ahmad played well and obviously (the) first play hitting a pass to him
    probably should only be a 2-yard gain, but he makes guys miss and we get 7
    yards,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “The next play (was) a run play they had
    pretty good defense (on), but he was still able to get the first down. I thought
    he ran hard and obviously when you have that mix with Ahmad and Brandon
    (Jacobs), I think that throws the defense off a little bit. You have a shifty
    guy and all of a sudden you bring in Brandon who’s running downhill and

    didn’t register gaudy numbers
    — he ran for 38 yards on 11 carries and caught
    two passes for 9 yards — but even he said he was surprised by how good his foot
    felt. And seeing how he ran on the game’s first two plays gave the Giants a shot
    of energy. It continued on the next snap when Manning found rarely used tight
    end Travis Beckum for a 67-yard touchdown, and throughout the night — both on
    the field and on the sidelines.

    “Absolutely,” safety Antrel Rolle said when asked if Bradshaw provided a
    spark. “The ‘Bulldog’ came to play. I think him being back also brings a spark
    to Jacobs, brings a spark to Eli, brings a spark to the entire offense, and he’s
    one of our biggest playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.”

    Alongside Bradshaw, Jacobs had by far his most efficient game of the season,
    rushing for 59 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. He was able to find space
    to run downhill behind a makeshift offensive line that has been ravaged by
    injuries the last few weeks. First, starting left tackle Will Beatty was lost
    for the season after he detached his retina against the Eagles. Consequently,
    David Diehl moved from left guard to tackle and Kevin Boothe moved into the
    vacated guard slot."


    Excerpt: "Tom Coughlin will pull life lessons from anywhere, even from the pages of
    history, as shining examples for his players.

    This week, the Giants' coach needed to
    look no further than the front of the auditorium, where Mitch Petrus was
    sitting. The second-year lineman played a very good game against the Packers on
    Sunday after finding out only two hours before kickoff he’d be making his first
    NFL start.

    “When he came to the stadium, I don’t think Mitch Petrus even knew he was
    going to dress,” Coughlin said today. “And not only is he going to dress, he’s
    now starting at left guard and plays the entire football game.

    “And really, it wasn’t perfect. But you see his power, you see his ability,
    you see him up against some very good defensive people that are big, sizable
    defensive linemen and plays well against them.”

    As I noted in my
    game review
    , Petrus saw a lot of B.J. Raji, the Westwood Regional grad who
    has been a disruptive force for many experienced linemen over the past two
    years. Raji gave Petrus some trouble here and there, but Petrus got the better
    of the former first-round pick for much of the day.

    “I liked his attitude and the way he went about it,” Coughlin said of Petrus.
    “There was no big eyes, there was no anything. He just went to work, trusted
    himself, trusted his preparation. When given the opportunity, he did well.”

    So did Kevin Boothe, who slid from left guard to center because David Baas
    was out of action with headaches.

    “How do you not recognize what this guy has done?” Coughlin said of Boothe,
    who has validated
    Jerry Reese’s saying he was a “priority”
    for the team to re-sign. “Whatever
    he has to do, he does it, with 5 minutes’ notice, with no notice. He just goes
    and plays.

    “There was one time where you saw Eli was kind of bobbling the snap when he
    was up under the center and then threw a 67-yard touchdown pass (to Travis
    Beckum). I would take the bobble if the result was going to be that every

    Asked after the game about playing center after preparing to play guard all
    week long, Boothe said, “It’s not a big deal. I knew I was playing today.”

    Coughlin indicated it can be a big deal for others.

    “The way he thinks and the way he plays and the way he reacts, it probably
    wasn’t,” Coughlin said. “I know, when I talked to him, it was like, ‘Here we go
    Boothie, you’re now the center.’ ‘Okay great,’ and with a big smile, away he

    Coughlin said there were also examples of players making adjustments on
    defense after Kenny Phillips was lost with a knee injury.

    “It happens all the time at our level,” he said. “But for once it’s probably
    a good idea to recognize the way guys go about their business under pressure
    when changes have to be made.”


    Excerpt: "A day later, Tom Coughlin was nauseous.

    Not about his team’s effort in the Giantsloss
    to the Packers
    . Rather, about a replay challenge he believes he should’ve
    won when tight end Jake Ballard was ruled out of bounds on a pass in the end
    zone. The officials upheld the call on the field and the Giants settled for a
    field goal. It was 10-7 instead of 14-7.

    “I just saw a picture that made me sick to my stomach, which Fox produced and
    showed he’s in,” Coughlin said today. “Don’t ask me about that because I really
    don’t know why, but I did see the picture.”

    I don’t know if this
    is the picture he’s talking about
    , but it certainly makes matters

    As I mentioned in my
    game review
    , there was one angle Fox showed from behind Ballard in which it
    appears the bottom of his knee pad hits in the blue paint of the end zone before
    sliding into the white of the sideline. Fox didn’t show that replay until the
    Giants had already challenged the play, so it’s unclear if someone on the
    coaching staff had that information.

    “I challenged the Ballard thing. No question about that one,” Coughlin said.
    “I wasn’t going to not challenge that and have somebody tell me, ‘You know he
    was in?’ As I said, the one on the sideline I was upset, I really was, because
    it was third-and-3 and I thought we had them stopped.”

    That was a 7-yard catch by Donald Driver, who got both feet down before his
    backside hit.

    “The second one, I really shouldn’t have challenged. It was right on our
    sideline,” Coughlin said. “But it was a third-and-3, and I was very much aware
    of where the ball was going, where it was headed and if there was any way it
    could be turned around. And they were hurrying up to the ball to snap it, so I
    really didn’t get a great call from upstairs. But I’ve been overly aggressive
    with those calls, not waiting for any kind of advice from upstairs.”

    By those calls, Coughlin means potential game-changers. He’s had some close
    ones and has lost his last five challenges.

    “It seems like we’ve had a series of things that have not been clear, and
    even when the pictures are there, have not been really clear,” he said. “But
    I’ve gone ahead and challenged anyway. I’ve done so for a number of

    One more gripe Coughlin had with the officiating was the interpretation of
    the Calvin Johnson rule on Greg Jennings’ touchdown. Jennings takes a while to
    control the ball and when he finally does, it seems he might have gotten only
    one foot down.

    Coughlin said a few weeks ago he was looking
    for “consistency” in the rule
    . Today, he said he’s still searching.

    “I would go so far as to say most of us know exactly what the rule reads
    like, but I’ve seen it interpreted a lot of different ways,” he said. “It’s
    confusing to me.”


    "There are those who saw the value
    in Sunday’s “moral victory
    .” And there are those who say moral victories
    “are for losers.”

    Put me somewhere in the middle.

    The Giants have to learn to close. The comparisons to 2007 and the near-upset
    of the Pats are nice, but that team was already in the playoffs. They held back
    a bit on their game plan and had little to lose. This team had everything to
    gain. So to say this is going to be a turning point in a Super Bowl season is to
    miss the fact they have a long way to go to even make the playoffs. And like
    Dave Tollefson said, they have to be better than to allow a team to go 68 yards
    in four plays after allowing the Saints to go the length of the field in a blink
    last week.

    But this team needed to be reminded of what it’s capable of doing in a lot of
    trouble areas, like the run game and the pass rush of late. Those things are now
    on film for them to see and believe. So yes, it can be a springboard of

    I discounted the loss to the Pats in ’07 as just that -- a loss. The Eagles
    and Ravens (two teams going nowhere that year) had just given the Pats, who were
    sucking wind by that point, a scare in previous weeks. What good was almost for
    the Giants in that spot?

    Well, it was plenty good because it got them thinking they were better than
    they initially believed. This game has the chance to do that, provided they
    continue to play with the enthusiasm they brought Sunday.

    * * * *


    DE Jason Pierre-Paul. I
    counted eight -- eight -- pressures for him. Plus, two balls batted
    down at the line and a half-sack that was negated by a penalty. Huge, huge, huge
    game for him.

    QB Eli Manning. Let’s face it, he’s gone toe-to-toe with
    Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron
    this year. Has he been the best quarterback in the last two of
    those games? No. But how slim is the difference? Very, very slight.

    Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Take it from Giants rookie LB
    Jacquian Williams, who has faced Brady and Brees. Williams
    thought he had a chance to make a play on the ball for Pack TE Jermichael
    on the first play of Green Bay’s game-winning drive. “He put it
    exactly where he wanted to put it,” a somewhat bewildered Williams said. “I
    haven't ever seen nothing like that before. As a rookie.” Personally, other than
    the throws on that final drive, I’d have to say Rodgers’ most impressive pass
    was a 33-yarder to WR Jordy Nelson in the first quarter while
    he was rolling right. Rodgers has this little skip he does to get more juice on
    the ball while on the run. He did it there and that ball had some zip.

    Green Bay LB Clay Matthews. Great read and break on the ball
    on his interception of Manning. The Giants ran a two-man route on that play and
    there was just nothing there for Manning, who tried to find RB Ahmad
    on the out route. A rare bad decision by Manning this season.
    Matthews also had a forced fumble, giving him three turnovers created in two
    games against the Giants. I also didn’t realize until today how quickly he shot
    into the backfield and pressured Manning on the quick throw to WR Hakeem
    for the touchdown with 58 seconds to go. Just incredible
    quickness, as he’d shown on a near-sack in the end zone earlier in the game.

    Packers WR Donald Driver. Two touchdowns but the play that
    wowed me was the 7-yard catch on third-and-3 early in the third quarter (the one
    the Giants challenged). That ball didn’t move a centimeter from the time it hit
    Driver’s hands. If it had, that would’ve been ruled incomplete because his butt
    hit the sideline. That’s precisely what the Giants were challenging, so there
    was a very, very small window in which Driver had to secure the ball. He did.
    Tremendous catch.

    Packers WRs Greg Jennings and Nelson. Somebody tell me where
    this corps ranks all-time. Are they up there among the great ones? They should
    be. Maybe another Super Bowl ring will get that conversation going even further
    than it already has.

    Finley. Don’t forget about him. I had him down for three of the Packers’ six
    drops, but he was effective and made a big play to spark the final drive.

    Giants coach Tom Coughlin. I tried telling people last week
    this team has been left for dead only to bounce back too many times to be
    counted out again. As Coughlin said, they’ll fight.

    LB Chase Blackburn. You know those signs on trucks that
    read, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you?” That’s kind of what
    happened on Blackburn’s
    interception Sunday
    . He said he couldn’t see Rodgers, which meant Rodgers
    couldn’t see him. Had Rodgers saw No. 93 (Blackburn is really having some fun
    with his new number, which is cool), he would’ve waited another tick and hit WR
    Randall Cobb on the inside slant, not Jennings trying to clear
    LB Mathias Kiwanuka. Great job by Blackburn not just on that
    play but all day Sunday getting underneath those routes, which had been a
    problem for Giants linebackers this year.

    WR Victor Cruz. I didn’t get a chance to fire this last
    week. It’s a quote from Packers CBs coach Joe Whitt (courtesy
    of a legend in this business and a Hall of Fame writer, Bob McGinn of the
    Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) on Cruz being the Giants’ No. 1 receiver in his
    mind: "There's no question. He's one of the most impressive guys I've broken
    down this year. Pro Bowl player. I mean, he's the real deal. If I had to pick
    Pro Bowl guys he would be on there." At this point, though, he’s not on the
    ballot, you’d have to figure Cruz is headed to Hawaii soon. He’ll get lots of
    votes from players and coaches.

    Nicks. It’s to the point now where, if it’s a 1-on-1 jump ball, I fully
    expect him to make the catch and am stunned when he doesn’t.

    Bradshaw. On the first play of the game from scrimmage, he broke a tackle for
    an extra 2 yards. That’s all. Just 2 yards. But I’d imagine it reminded this
    team of what he brings and got their confidence going right off the bat. That
    first drive was enormous. One other note: four years after RB Brandon
    made Packers CB Charles Woodson road kill to
    open the NFC Championship game, Bradshaw did just that on a swing pass early in
    the fourth quarter.

    Jacobs. Something I didn’t see until rewatching the game: he got just enough
    of Packers DL B.J. Raji to slow him down on the 42-yard pass to
    Cruz in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, he had a huge stick on
    LB D.J. Smith on a blitz pickup.

    RG Chris Snee. He’s had a concussion and a stomach bug that
    have bothered him in a few games, so he hasn’t been himself at times. He was
    himself Sunday and really got after it in a big game when the Giants needed
    stability on a shuffled line.

    LG Mitch Petrus and C Kevin Boothe. As much
    as Boothe said after game it’s “no big deal” when he finds out two hours before
    a game he’s playing center instead of guard, it’s a big deal. As for Petrus, he
    had a few yips and drew himself a tough, tough assignment in Raji for much of
    the day. Petrus allowed a pressure to Raji in the first half, was shed on
    another block, had a false start and whiffed on Raji on a run in the third
    quarter. But there were times he handled him as well, including a real nice
    block on a 5-yard run for a first down that was negated by an illegal-formation
    penalty, and a few snaps later when he got up inside Raji to move that big body
    backward on the fade TD from Manning to Nicks. Even on a draw play to start the
    fourth quarter, when Raji made a quick spin move, Petrus let him do all the work
    and nudged him to the inside to give Jacobs room. Had Boothe locked onto Smith
    better there, that would’ve been a big run instead of a 3-yard gain. One play
    later, good blocks by Petrus, LT David Diehl and TE
    Jake Ballard opened the hole for 8 yards. Had Boothe not
    slipped at the snap there, that might have been another huge run. And finally,
    great job by Petrus to turn Raji on the 2-point conversion. (More on that down

    Diehl. Let’s not forget about him. He’s been solid since moving back to left
    tackle. You just can’t take that kind of stuff for granted.

    DT Linval Joseph. He’s been under the radar this year but
    he’s been solid. Sunday was his best game of his career. He was around the ball
    all day long.

    TE Travis Beckum. Think his teammates were excited for him?
    Just look at the reaction by guys like Cruz, Nicks, Ballard and Bradshaw coming
    up to a player who has struggled to find a role in this offense after a play
    like he made. I forgot to mention this in my note on Beckum but that play began
    with Manning nearly dropping the snap. He kept his composure and looked S
    Morgan Burnett toward Nicks’ side. That left plenty of room for
    Beckum, who picked up the last 35 yards after the catch by taking advantage of
    Burnett’s overrunning the tackle attempt twice.

    K Lawrence Tynes. That 50-yard field goal was huge because
    it ensured the Giants would remain within one score if Green Bay added a
    touchdown, which they did. Plus, four touchbacks for Tynes.

    FB Henry Hynoski. Aside from the fair catch that could have
    been (he vowed not to do that again), he played an excellent game and was a
    physical presence on a few lead runs.

    DE Justin Tuck. That looked like
    “Old Tuck”
    to me. “I’m getting better,” he continued to say afterward about
    his health.

    * * * *


    Williams. I was a tad reluctant to give him one here because he played well
    for a good portion of the game and the illegal-contact penalty on him in the
    fourth quarter was a bit ticky-tack. That being said, he admitted he can’t be
    putting his hands on the receiver like that. He also admitted he has to play
    smarter than when he tried making a play on the ball to start the Packers’
    game-winning drive, a decision that cost the Giants an extra 14 yards. Williams
    thought he could get to that ball. Perhaps it was in part because he made a play
    on a similar ball from Rodgers to Finley on a quick out early in the second

    CB Will Blackmon. Tough spot for him to be put in, playing
    corner in only his second game back. Rodgers seemed to know that and he went
    after his former teammate in key spots, including on Nelson’s 27-yarder on the
    final drive.

    Woodson. The Giants made it obvious they were going to take advantage of his
    aggressiveness. They started with a double move by Cruz that resulted in an
    illegal-contact penalty. Later, there was a nice pump fake by Manning on a
    “bounce” or “pivot” route when the Giants clearly had an inkling Woodson would
    be sniffing for a pick six. That play was big because it was a third-and-6 from
    their own 5 on a drive that resulted in a field goal early in the fourth
    quarter. Woodson also had a roughing-the-passer call when he went high on
    Manning after making a nice move to create pressure. Originally, I thought it
    was merely a glancing blow but after rewatching it, I felt it was blatant enough
    to be called.

    The rest of the Packers’ secondary. There’s been a lot of talk about how the
    yardage they’ve given up is because of garbage time. Eh, I’m not so sure about
    that. For an undefeated team, the back end of their defense is a concern. The
    Giants took 10 shots of 20 or more yards down the field (they connected on three
    of them and drew a penalty on another), so they knew they could attack this

    Referre Jeff Triplette and his crew. The people spoke (in
    the comments section) and I listened.

    * * * *


    I know a lot of people were wondering why the Giants left 58 seconds for
    Rodgers and the Packers, but I’m with Coughlin. Worry about the score before the
    clock. The only decision in that sequence I would question was running a play
    from the 17-yard line before the 2-minute warning. They should have let that one
    run down and then start first-and-10 after the commercial break. That way, after
    Bradshaw runs for 3 yards, the clock continues to run. But again, it’s
    nitpicking, I believe.

    * * * *


    Let’s go over the penalties with which the Giants took issue. The first was a
    pass-interference call on CB Prince Amukamara early in the
    third quarter. That was a good call. As I
    noted in my game preview
    while talking about a play last year, you can’t
    grab a guy’s arm. It didn’t look like much live because there wasn’t a lot of
    body contact, but that’s pass interference, as was Woodson’s being all over
    Nicks on his touchdown. There was also the ruling on Jennings’ touchdown. (I’ve
    broken that out on its own one item down.) Then, we had the illegal contact on
    Williams. I didn’t love it called in a spot like that but, by rule, it’s a
    penalty. A few minutes later, there was a no call on CB Sam
    when he had a fistful of Nicks’ jersey. That was absolutely
    holding or pass interference there. Finally, there was Driver’s second TD, where
    he might have stepped out of bounds. I can’t believe Fox didn’t have a replay
    from the back of the end zone to give a better look there. Plus, field judge
    Barry Anderson looks away as Driver is in the back of the end
    zone, so he wasn’t even looking for that. There’s just nothing we had to
    determine if he indeed stepped out.

    Now, as for the Jennings touchdown, Coughlin
    was looking for clarity on the “Calvin Johnson rule” a few weeks back
    it was ruled WR Mario Manningham didn’t hold the ball while
    completing the act of falling. That same week, it was ruled Lions WR
    Nate Burleson had completed the act of the catch before losing
    the ball while stumbling through the netting behind the end zone. I doubt, after
    watching this one, Coughlin will be any less confused about the rule. I’ll say
    this: when a player falls, the rule is much easier to apply. The contact with
    the ground and that moment of whether he holds the ball or not is the end of the
    act. But when a player stays on his feet, that’s when the gray area creeps in.
    When is the act complete? When does he have possession of the ball? I see what
    the officials must have seen and to what Mike Pereira
    referenced when he said there was control with the left hand after a few
    mini-bobbles. But once Jennings controls it, his left foot appears to be off the
    ground, which would mean he had only one foot down with complete control before
    Amukamara knocks it away. It’s very, very close as to whether that left foot was
    still on the ground.

    Because I know you love to hate the three-man rush, allow me to point out
    Perry Fewell used it on back-to-back plays on the Packers’
    first drive. Both resulted in incomplete passes, with the second one a ball
    Rodgers threw away deep after 6.5 seconds in the pocket -- an eternity in the
    NFL. Where I didn’t like the three-man rush call was on Driver’s second

    The screen pass to RB D.J. Ware when he motions out to the
    left is so obvious it’s not fooling anybody anymore. I understand the Giants
    have fakes built in there to get the defense to crash down so they can hit a
    play downfield but they just don’t use them enough to make it worth the time to
    have a 4-yard loss that kills the momentum of a good drive that could’ve been a
    touchdown instead of a field goal. The one on third-and-8 midway through the
    fourth quarter was an absolute disaster. It looked like Ware believed he was
    running the decoy there because of the way he threw his hands up and was
    surprised when the ball came his way. In that spot, the decoy is the much better

    I mentioned Coughlin had plenty of in-house replays to see before he
    challenged Ballard’s near-TD in the first quarter but I didn’t see the one Fox
    showed where Ballard’s knee does appear to hit the blue paint before the white
    until rewatching the game. That angle does make it look like he was in, though
    every other angle seemed to indicate he touched white first. And by the way, if
    you’re confused on that one and wondering why challenge if his left foot never
    came close to coming down in bounds, you should know (as John
    Madden and Dave Anderson wrote years ago
    ) one knee equals two feet. In other
    words, the one knee in bounds would have negated the need for the left foot to
    hit at all. So in summation, after seeing the replay from behind Ballard, that
    challenge from Coughlin wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was while watching
    live. And frankly, Coughlin believes he should've won it. (More on that coming

    The second challenge, though, should’ve never happened. It was right in front
    of the Giants’ sideline. It was close, but Coughlin had a perfect look at that
    one. Some people thought it wasn’t worth the gamble because, despite being a
    third down, it was only a 7-yard gain and that was the Giants’ last challenge. I
    don’t have a problem with that part because the Packers were driving to make it
    a two-score game and that’s not the position in which you want to be against the
    Packers. I just had an issue with the challenge itself.

    Yeah, the officiating seemed to favor the Packers Sunday but Fox did a nice
    job of showing you the one play where S Deon Grant mugged
    Finley and got away with one. And I agree with Troy Aikman when
    he said the illegal contact that wasn’t called on Williams was worse
    than the one that was. Rodgers and Finley both were calling for a flag there. So
    it goes both ways sometimes.

    I was sitting next to Gary Myers of the Daily News and he noted after the
    pass by the Packers' Cobb how do you take the ball out of Rodgers’ hand to throw
    it? Can’t agree more. Leave those plays for the Broncos to run.

    Aikman put Driver’s first touchdown on S Antrel Rolle by
    saying he “blew that one.” He was wrong. Many of my Twitter followers said CB
    Aaron Ross was to blame. Eventually, after referencing CB
    Corey Webster, Aikman said it might’ve been Ross. Nope. (I was
    wondering why a bunch of my Twitter followers were saying everyone was in man
    coverage when it was only Webster who was in man. I just heard now during the
    replay that’s what Aikman said, so they were influenced by him.) Rolle’s
    immediate reaction told me he believed Webster should’ve sunk deep on that one
    because he went right toward him, and Webster acted like he knew he was in the
    wrong once Rolle relayed the info to him. Sure enough, after the game, Coughlin
    said, “They ran a switch route and we didn’t fall off outside.” Webster was the
    outside corner on the play.

    As many of you astutely pointed out right away when this happened, the
    officials should’ve taken about 6 seconds off the clock when Matthews forced a
    fumble on Manning and everybody stood around. The officials got the fumble part
    correct but missed the clock issue. The Packers should’ve had 20 seconds, not
    26, when they took over at the 50-yard line. They missed a field goal, so no
    harm done, but still the officials have to be on top of that one.

    * * * *


    Though I didn’t give Fewell a game ball, I came close. I’m stunned by the
    number of people who think the defense didn’t play well Sunday because they gave
    up 31 points. They came up small in a big spot, but they defended the Pack as
    well as anybody has this year. People were pointing to the drops by Green Bay
    receivers as reason for why Rodgers posted season lows in completion percentage
    and passer rating. Okay, but the Giants’ defense had a lot to do with that as

    When Jacobs ran for 11 and 14 yards on the final two plays of the first
    quarter, it marked the first time since the fourth quarter of the victory over
    the Bills on Oct. 16 the Giants had consecutive double-digit runs. Not just
    back-to-back plays or even from series to series. Consecutive runs, period. And
    if my calculations are correct, and I believe they are, it’s only the second
    time they’ve done that this season.

    Nice job by Nicks to save an interception off a deflection in the second
    quarter. Packers CB Tramon Williams had that one lined up after
    it bounced off Cruz and Morgan, but Nicks got a hand in there to make sure it
    fell incomplete. The teams traded punts on three possessions there until
    Blackburn’s interception helped the Giants to a lead. An interception by
    Williams near midfield might have changed that whole sequence and perhaps the

    Nicks had said a few weeks ago he thought the Giants might start doing some
    things to help him get away from double coverage. If you looked closely Sunday,
    you saw he was lined up in the slot, moving in motion and switching with Cruz
    often at the line. All of these things are done to help Nicks get more room to

    If I were a coach, I’d think one of the things that would drive me bonkers
    would be when a returner fair catches a ball inside the 10 like Cobb did midway
    through the second quarter. I mean, you stand on the 10 and if you have to take
    one step backward, you let the ball bounce. If not, you catch it. Cobb caught it
    at the 6 instead of letting it hit when the closest guy on the coverage unit was
    still 6 yards away. Would it have checked up? Maybe. But that’s the chance you
    take. Instead, the Packers were backed up, Rodgers threw the interception to
    Blackburn and the Giants retook the lead. Would the Packers’ offensive sequence
    have gone differently if they had started from the 20? Yeah, maybe.

    That wasn’t one of the better games called by Aikman. He was off in plenty of
    areas, including when he said the Giants had played more man than Fewell had
    told them he would. Now, I don’t know what Fewell told them. For all we know, he
    might’ve said he’d play man half the time. But by my rough (and I cannot stress
    the word “rough” enough on this one because it’s impossible to tell with
    certainty what a coverage call is on a TV broadcast), I had the Giants about
    2-to-1 zone-to-man at that point. Fewell went with lots of zone looks after
    calling a man-heavy scheme against the Saints. I think that was a smart
    adjustment after his DBs came up small in New Orleans.

    Somebody on email asked me about the illegal-formation penalty on Diehl in
    the third quarter. It’s not really on Diehl; it’s on Cruz because he didn’t
    “cover” Diehl, meaning he didn’t line up on the line of scrimmage. The last guy
    on the line can’t be a lineman with an ineligible number (No. 50-79) unless he
    reports eligible. If you noticed, there was an unbalanced line earlier in the
    game that left OL Jim Cordle as the last man on the left side
    of the line. But because he reported eligible on that play, there was no

    My brother-in-law, a neutral observer in this one, didn’t like the fist bump
    by Woodson to Nicks after Nicks’ TD. Eh, didn’t bother me. He’s established
    enough to get away with that. It’s not something you want to see a rookie do,
    but Woodson has shown he’s dedicated enough. He just respected Nicks’ ability
    right there, as well he should.

    One of the keys in my game preview (linked above) was not letting Rodgers
    escape. The Giants did a decent job of that for the most part. The only errors
    were when DE Dave Tollefson got too far upfield to give him a
    lane to his right and when Williams lost his footing on a 6-yard run for a first
    down in the third quarter.

    The blocking on Jacobs’ 12-yard run on the next-to-last play of the third
    quarter was the old Giants style of blocking. The combo by Boothe and Petrus on
    Raji to move him away from the hole and the lead blocks by Snee and FB
    Bear Pascoe allowed Jacobs to get up the field untouched. Maybe
    these guys are turning a corner here. We’ll see.

    If you watch the 2-point conversion again, you’ll see Petrus look back at
    Manning after he makes the check at the line. “I didn’t hear it at first,”
    Petrus said. “I turned around and he’s like, ‘Alert! Alert! We’re checking.’ All
    right, here we go. It gets kind of loud.” How the Packers, who had little
    support up the middle, didn’t realize what the check meant is beyond me. Anyway,
    here’s more Petrus on his first career start: “I was really excited when I got
    the news. Unfortunately we didn’t win but we played hard, went out there and
    fought. I don’t have any regrets. I played as hard as I could. We’re going to
    get it down, we’re going to keep fighting. … (The start) felt awesome to go out
    there. It felt awesome, it really did. Even though we came up a little bit
    short, we were out there competing. It was good to be a part of that. I felt
    privileged and honored.”

    And finally somebody tweeted to Cordle he took a late shot at Matthews. “I
    really don’t like him,” Cordle
    tweeted in reply
    . That is all."



    Excerpt: "This is not a classic Giants-Cowboys showdown.

    How can it be when each
    team is terribly flawed and has been staggering through the season trying to
    make it to the finish line in first place?

    It’s certainly not like the 2007 divisional playoff game the Giants won at
    Texas Stadium by surviving two passes by Tony Romo into the end
    zone in the final 21 seconds of a four-point victory, or the final game of the
    1993 season at Giants Stadium when the Cowboys beat the Giants in overtime to
    win the NFC East and the No. 1 seed in the conference.

    Hey, Romo isn’t even going to Cabo this week.

    But the stakes are still enormous. This ultimately could be the NFC East
    championship game. The Cowboys are 7-5 and have a one-game lead over the Giants
    even though Big Blue has lost four straight.

    It’s not often 6-6 teams get to play for first place.

    “You don’t worry about records at this point. You worry about the next game,”
    said Monday. “You worry about where you stand. This is a huge game
    coming up. Everything is right in front of us and that’s all you want. You never
    set a goal to what your record is going to be. You set a goal to win the
    division. We got a shot to do that and we got a big game, an exciting game and
    one we are looking forward to.”

    Dallas could have been up two games with a chance to win the division by
    beating the Giants, but Jason Garrett
    essentially iced his own kicker at the end of regulation in Arizona, taking a
    49-yard field goal off the board. Rookie Dan Bailey then missed with two seconds
    left and the Cowboys lost in overtime, keeping their NFC East lead at just one

    Thanks to Garrett’s mishandling of the final seconds, the Giants have a
    chance to sneak back into a first-place tie with the Cowboys — and hold the
    tie-breaker — with a victory. If the Giants can also beat the Cowboys at MetLife
    Stadium on Jan. 1, they would be assured of winning the NFC East as long as they
    split against the Redskins and Jets in their other two games. Mathematically,
    the Giants don’t have to sweep Dallas to win the NFC East, but they can’t get

    Considering the Giants are four games deep into their annual second-half
    collapse and are still in control of their own destiny, that’s all you need to
    know about the sorry state of what used to be the best division in the NFL.

    In August, the Giants surely would have signed up for a first-place showdown
    in Dallas in the 13th game of the season.

    The Giants are 2-0 at Cowboys Stadium. They won the first game played there
    in 2010 and last year Michael Boley broke
    Romo’s collarbone. The Giants didn’t make the playoffs either year, but a
    victory Sunday night takes them one step closer."


    Excerpt: "Their four-game losing streak seemed to leave their season in ruins. There
    were times they seemed to be spiraling out of control.

    Yet when the Giants arrived at work on Monday morning, just hours after their
    near upset of the undefeated Green Bay Packers, all they needed to do was take
    one look at the standings. Despite a month of losing, including a heartbreaking
    38-35 loss to the defending champions on Sunday, the Giants are just one game
    back in both the division and wild-card races.

    They are still very much in control of their postseason fate.

    “I think our goal is still at hand,” Tom Coughlin reminded
    everyone on Monday. “Everything we wanted to achieve at the very beginning of
    the season is still there.”

    “We’re in a situation where we control our own destiny,” added receiver Hakeem Nicks. “We know
    where we want to be. We know what we want to do. We’ve just got to get the job

    That job begins again Sunday night when the Giants (6-6) play in Dallas in a
    crucial NFC East showdown against the first-place Cowboys (7-5). They play the
    Cowboys twice in the final four games, including in the regular-season finale at
    the Meadowlands. The simple formula is that if the Giants win all four of their
    games, they’ll win the NFC East.

    Most teams wouldn’t be thinking about such things after a month of losing,
    but the Giants have caught a series of breaks elsewhere around the league. The
    Cowboys lost in overtime in Arizona on Sunday, keeping the division in play.
    Losses by the Bears (7-5) and Lions (7-5) kept the wild card race tight, too
    (the Falcons are also 7-5), and the Bears were hurt even more by the loss of
    running back Matt Forte.

    More importantly, though, the Giants really did seem to catch a wave of
    confidence by coming so close to beating the 12-0 Pack. They played with a
    passion and an energy that had been missing from their previous two games.

    That was a passion and energy they will need in Dallas, too.

    “Nothing less. Nothing less at all,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “We need
    to build on that and continue to understand that when we come out there with
    that attitude and that mind-set, anything is possible for us right
    now.”


    Excerpt: "The Giants will visit the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, facing
    an offense that averages 270.8 passing yards per game.

    But don’t expect to see safety Kenny
    making the trip. On Monday, Phillips was seen sporting a bulky
    brace on his left knee. He insisted that the knee injury was “just a sprain,”
    but a league source says Phillips has a sprained MCL and will miss at least 1-2

    Tom Coughlin said
    Phillips was going to undergo tests at the Hospital for Special Surgery on
    Monday, and after a season in which he has lost three players — WR
    Domenik Hixon
    and CBs Terrell Thomas and
    Brian Witherspoon
    — to torn ACLs that initially seemed like benign knee injuries, the coach was
    unsure of Phillips’ status.

    “I don’t know what to be clear about, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve
    seen guys jump off and run off the field, and the next day it’s an ACL

    Phillips injured the knee in the second quarter of Sunday’s 38-35 loss to the
    Green Bay Packers, and it is the same knee that he underwent microfracture
    surgery on during the 2009 season. He returned from that surgery last season,
    but didn’t regain his full quickness until this year.

    Antrel Rolle said
    Phillips’ possible absence was “definitely a huge loss,” but the safety quickly
    added that the secondary has survived injury woes all season.

    “We’ve found a way to get through it so far,” Rolle said, “and we’re going to
    keep finding a way.”

    Rookie corner Prince Amukamara,
    who sat on the bench during the Packers’ game-winning drive on Sunday, said
    Monday, that he was not in the game at that time because of a pair of foot
    issues. His left foot — which he had broken in training camp — was sore, and he
    had rolled his right ankle.

    He did not expect to miss any practice time this week,
    though."


    Excerpt: "When Tom Coughlin threw the red challenge flag on what sure looked to him to be
    a touchdown catch by Jake Ballard in the first quarter on Sunday, he admitted he
    may have been “overly aggressive.” The television replays sure looked
    inconclusive. Ballard was ruled to be out of bounds on the field and the
    officials, upon further review, upheld the call.

    Then, on Monday
    morning, less than 24 hours after the Giants' narrow, 38-35 loss to the Green
    Bay Packers, Giants GM Jerry Reese handed Coughlin a picture taken off Fox’s
    broadcast that sure made it look like Ballard was definitively

    Coughlin said the picture “made me sick to my stomach”.
    Clearly, after looking at the photo, Coughlin said “He’s in.”

    “Don’t ask
    me about that because I really don’t know why,” Coughlin said. “But I did see
    the picture.”

    Unfortnately, the officials don’t get to look at still
    photos during a replay review, but there are several in circulation that seem to
    clearly show Ballard’s knee on the ground on the blue of the end zone. According
    to NFL rules, a player is ruled inbounds if he has control of the ball and gets
    either both feet down in bounds or any other body part other than his

    The officials ruled that Ballard got one foot down and that his
    knee landed on the sidelines -- making him out of bounds. Several TV replays
    seem to support that argument, though one super slow-motion shot Fox showed
    during the challenge makes it seem really, really close.

    Would it have
    made a difference? Who knows? It would’ve been a 20-yard touchdown late in the
    first quarter that would’ve put the Giants up 14-7. Instead they settled for a
    38-yard field goal that put them up 10-7.


    Excerpt: "Tom Coughlin said Monday afternoon that he “just saw a picture that made me
    sick to my stomach’’ and the fact that the Giants coach believes what’s in the
    picture validates his case didn’t help ease his queasiness.

    In Sunday’s 38-35 loss to the unbeaten Packers, Coughlin lost two replay
    challenges and he firmly believes he should have won the first one.

    Coughlin said FOX TV produced the picture and he was alerted to it because
    general manager “Jerry Reese was carrying it around.’’ In the first quarter
    shot, tight end Jake Ballard appears to have his right knee touch down just
    inside the end zone before sliding out of bounds. It would have been a 20-yard
    touchdown pass from Eli Manning on third down to put the Giants ahead 14-7.
    Instead, Lawrence Tynes hit a 38-yard field goal and the Giants took a 10-7

    Giants coach Tom Coughlin challenged this non-catch by
    Jake Ballard. The play was upheld, costing the Giants a touchdown and they would
    eventually settle for the field goal.

    The initial replays shown by FOX seemed to indicate Ballard was out of bounds
    when making the diving catch but a shot from behind the end zone appears to
    reveal that Ballard just dragged his right knee in. Coughlin didn’t see that
    shot when he threw the red replay challenge flag but he felt it was close enough
    to contest. After the review, referee Jeff Triplette announced Ballard’s knee
    had hit out of bounds and Coughlin lost the challenge.

    “He’s in,’’ Coughlin said of the picture he saw. “Don’t ask me about that
    because I really don’t know why. I challenged the Ballard thing, no question
    about that one. I wasn’t not going to challenge that and have somebody tell me
    ‘You know he was in?’ ‘’



    Excerpt: "Kenny Phillips yesterday was sent for tests on his left knee, to which he
    suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament during Sunday’s 38-35 loss to the
    Packers. The Giants are hoping that is the full extent of the injury and that
    Phillips, their starting strong safety, can salvage a game or two this

    The injury is to the same knee on which Phillips had microfracture surgery
    during the 2009 season, causing him to miss the final 14 games.

    “It’s definitely going to affect us, he’s a huge asset to our defense and he
    plays a major role on our defense,’’ said Antrel Rolle, the starting free

    The replacement for Phillips figures to be Tyler Sash, a rookie from Iowa who
    is a special-teams fixture. Sash has played sparingly on defense in his first

    “If he has to step in I feel very confident,’’ Rolle said. “We’ll definitely
    get with him and make sure he understands all the ins and outs of the defense.
    He’s a player, he’s very relentless, he plays hard, he plays fast. He plays with
    a lot of fire and that’s exactly what we need back there.’’

    * Coach Tom Coughlin was eager to praise the play of
    Kevin Boothe, who with barely an hour’s notice prior to kickoff
    against the Packers moved in to start at center in place of David
    , and rookie Mitch Petrus, who made his first NFL
    start at left guard.

    Baas is being evaluated for headaches.

    Eli Manning was also grateful Petrus held up in his first
    real NFL action.

    “Obviously that’s a big adjustment, the night before and that day he’s coming
    into the stadium and he probably might not even dress and all of a sudden you’re
    starting at left guard,’’ Manning said. “Good luck. He played well, had good
    poise, there’s always some things you can fix up but he competed and was
    physical and that’s what you like to see.’’



    Excerpt: "The Giants are sure the calls did not go their way in Sunday’s last-second
    38-35 loss to the still-undefeated Packers. And, at least in one case, they have
    the picture to prove it.

    “I just saw a picture that made me sick to my stomach,’’ coach Tom Coughlin
    said yesterday, and the fact that he believes what’s in the picture validates
    his case didn’t help ease his queasiness.

    Coughlin during the game — the Giants’ fourth consecutive loss — lost two
    replay challenges and he firmly believes he should have won the first one, which
    could have altered the outcome.

    Coughlin first took a look at what he believes is firm evidence there was a
    blown call when he was handed a picture general manager Jerry Reese was carrying
    around. In the shot — taken from a freeze frame of a replay from the Fox
    broadcast — tight end Jake Ballard in the first quarter appears to have his
    right knee hit down just inside the side of the end zone before sliding out of

    Refs do no look at still photos when reviewing a call.

    It would have been a 20-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning on a third down
    play to give the Giants a 14-7 lead. Instead, it was ruled an incomplete pass
    because the ruling on the field was Ballard had landed out of bounds. Lawrence
    Tynes hit a 38-yard field goal to put the Giants up 10-7.

    The initial replays shown by Fox seemed to indicate Ballard was out of bounds
    when making the diving catch, but a still shot from behind the end zone appears
    to reveal that Ballard just dragged his right knee in. Coughlin didn’t see that
    shot when he threw the red replay challenge flag, but he felt it was close
    enough to contest. After the review, referee Jeff Triplette announced Ballard’s
    knee had hit out of bounds and Coughlin lost the challenge. Of course, in order
    for a call on the field to be reversed there has to be irrefutable evidence.

    “He’s in,’’ Coughlin said of the picture he saw. “Don’t ask me about that
    because I really don’t know why. I challenged the Ballard thing, no question
    about that one. I wasn’t going to not challenge that and have somebody tell me,
    ‘You know he was in?’”


    Excerpt: "When was the last time you heard this out of a player one day after a
    last-second field goal saddled his team with its fourth-straight loss?

    “I can’t tell you the last time I had that much fun being out on the field,”
    safety Antrel Rolle said yesterday, looking back at what could be viewed as an
    agonizing 38-35 loss to the Packers that certainly didn’t enhance but
    surprisingly didn’t dash the Giants’ playoff aspirations. “It was fun. Losing is
    never fun, but that was a great matchup and you know that you were going up
    against the best team in football at this point in time.’’

    Rolle also made sure to add: “I’m looking forward to a matchup with them

    Imagine how much fun it would have been if the Giants, after Eli Manning
    produced the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion, had been able to
    stave off Aaron Rodgers in the final 58 seconds to force overtime?

    “You’re just hoping you can get another chance,’’ Manning said.

    The torrid quarterback and the team in a losing skid all get another chance,
    starting Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium. Teams with a record of 6-6 after 12
    games rarely get a shot at first place in their 13th game but it’s all out there
    for the Giants. If they beat the Cowboys (7-5) this weekend, the Giants are tied
    atop the NFC East and have the tie-breaker edge over the Cowboys. It is as
    simple as this for the Giants: If they sweep the two-game series from the
    Cowboys (they also square off in the regular-season finale Jan. 1 at MetLife
    Stadium) all the Giants have to do is win one of their remaining two games in
    between (vs. the Redskins and Jets) to clinch the division title. That’s right,
    the Giants could be NFC East champs with a record of 9-7, as long as two of the
    victories come against the Cowboys.

    “I talked to them about that because I think our goals are still in hand,’’
    coach Tom Coughlin said. “Everything that we wanted to achieve at the very
    beginning of the season, having played 12 weeks, they’re still there.’’

    Minutes after the loss that kept the Packers unbeaten and the Giants
    searching for their first victory since Nov. 6, there was a sense of muted
    satisfaction for taking the league’s best team down to the wire amid the sting
    of a last-second defeat. Much of the sting appeared gone as the Giants gathered
    a day later.

    Even though Coughlin started out by saying, “It is no fun,’’ he was quick to
    add, “The best way I can say it is that they had the ball last and that is what
    I really believe. They make a lot of good plays and we make a lot of good plays.
    It was one of those games and it was very exciting, except for the
    conclusion.’’


    Excerpt: "This is four everything now.

    This is for the division title, for the playoffs, and quite possibly, for Tom
    Coughlin’s future. This is the fourth quarter.

    After all the emphasis, after all the reminders, after all their recent
    second-half collapses and winters of their discontent, there is only one option
    now for the Giants:

    Finish. Finish these games. Finish this season.

    And never has the saying “the
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1

  • #2

    thanks Roanoke!

    very happy to see AB in the lineup. glad hes a Giant!

    the Ballard non-call looks like a bad call. i think he was in.



    • #3

      Thanks RF !
      " Success is never final, but failure can be " B.P.


      • #4

        Thanks Roa

        Is it sunday night already??

        I can smell Cowboy Blood !!!!


        • #5
          Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2011 - 12:30 P.M.

          [quote user="britishblue2"]Thanks Roa

          Is it sunday night already??

          I can smell Cowboy Blood !!!![/quote]

          The sharks are, indeed, circling my friend.
          “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


          • #6
            Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2011 - 12:30 P.M.

            [quote user="RoanokeFan"][quote user="britishblue2"]Thanks Roa

            Is it sunday night already??

            I can smell Cowboy Blood !!!![/quote]

            The sharks are, indeed, circling my friend.
            [/quote] Its gonna be a brutal hiddieous savage RAMPAGE of a road war and OUR flag will be flying at days end !!!

            Time to roll...G-MEN !!!