Excerpt: "The hurt goes on for the Green Bay Packers, dropping their third straight without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers as the New York Giants did enough to take a fourth straight victory that, from an 0-6 start, keeps them just one loss behind the lead in the NFC East.
This victory was about the Giants being good enough to see off a weakened Green Bay team more so than them showing that they have turned the corner. In the .500 scrap that the NFC East has become, the Giants are still alive but they will need to keep producing the form they showed in fits and starts on both sides of the ball in this game if they are to extend this winning streak against teams that aren’t significantly hampered. That takes nothing away from this victory, they were plenty value for this win but more will be needed.
The Packers, meanwhile, are still counting down the days and weeks until they can get Rodgers back under center to right the ship. Scott Tolzien put in a much improved display this week, but the Packers never got their ground game going to give him the support he needed to come out of MetLife Stadium with what would have been a morale-boosting victory for the entire team. For the time being, the Packers still do not have the validation of what they will believe; that they can still compete and win without their leader under center. The good news for Green Bay was that Detroit’s defeat in Pittsburgh keeps them within one game of the division lead with Rodgers one week closer to his return.
New York – Three Performances of Note
Tuck and JPP Build Momentum
One of the key features in each of the Giants’ successful runs to their championships has been their defensive ends showing up with big performances when it counts. Their dire 0-6 start forced that issue earlier in the season than we are used to seeing, but both Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul have rounded into form with the Giants’ improvement. On the left side, Tuck (+1.6) notched his seventh straight positively-graded game, earning plusses both as a pass rusher and run defender. Last season was a disappointing one for Tuck, particularly as a pass rusher but he notched multiple pressures (1 Ht, 3 Hu) for the seventh consecutive contest and got multiple stops for the eighth time.
Opposite Tuck, Pierre-Paul built his game on a similar blueprint in run defense but made up for a general lack of presence in the passing game (only two hurries) with the game’s big play. Hanging off in his pass rush to read the throw, JPP got his hands up to the ball and cleanly snagged Tolzien’s pass intended for Jordy Nelson in the left flat to race back – comfortably outrunning David Bakhtiari’s attempt to track him down — to put the Giants out front by two scores with 10 minutes remaining. The Giants have given themselves no room to maneuver with their poor start and they need to maintain strong form as a team and from their defensive ends for an extremely long time for this run to mean anything substantial.
Pugh’s Growth on the Right
After a difficult first month in the NFL, Justin Pugh has grown into his role as the Giants’ right tackle and turned in another strong showing this week against the Packers. Surrendering only one hurry, he earned one of his higher pass protection grades of the season (+1.5) and since Week 4 has only allowed one knockdown (a sack conceded to Jason Hunter last week). His run blocking is still a work in progress, but since difficult games in Carolina (-4.5; 2 Sk, 1 Ht, 7 Hu) and Kansas City (-1.5; 1 Ht, 3 Hu), his pass protection has shown marked consistency with, at present, those performances looking like outliers in a solid rookie season.
It seems bizarre to suggest that a player in New York is going under the radar — Pugh is something of a forgotten man behind this season’s other first-round tackles — but the Giants will surely be pleased with his solid performance over the last month and a half.
Registering his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season, Victor Cruz put in one of his more efficient games of the season while getting the better of a number of Packers — he snagged his eight receptions against five different Green Bay defenders. Cruz made the most of a favorable matchup against Clay Matthews to collect his longest gain of the day (30 yards) on an out-and-up route in the first quarter shaking off a tackle from the Packer linebacker as he tried to fight back to Cruz downfield. His three targets against Micah Hyde were his most against one defender with Cruz edging that battle by picking up a pair of first downs against a third down stop for Hyde. Cruz collected his first downs against Hyde on a slant on the opening drive and wheel route (his second big gain of the day) with five minutes left in the third.
- In his second game back in the Packers’ lineup, Clay Matthews notched his first pressures since Week 5 with a sack, five hurries (one nullified) and a batted pass on 29 pass rushes.
- Eli Manning bossed the intermediate area against the Packers yesterday going 5/5 for 97 yards and a score on passes targeted between 10 and 19 yards downfield.
- A return to form for Brad Jones (+2.3) this week for the Packers notching a season-high six defensive stops and his highest grade since Week 3 in Cincinnati.
PFF Game Ball
Terrific against the run and providing the decisive pick six Jason Pierre-Paul was the standout performer in the game and made the timely play to cap off the Giants fourth straight victory." Read more...