The New York Giants (5–2) dropped their second game in a row Sunday night when they lost to the Arizona Cardinals (4–2) 24–17 with a very uninspiring performance.
For nearly the entire game, the Giants looked like a team that was confused by Arizona’s play calling on both sides of the ball. The Giants’ offensive play calling appeared unimaginative while the defensive game plan lacked in-game adjustments for a second week in a row.
Head coach Tom Coughlin was disappointed with the loss. He said, “I am always concerned when you lose. For whatever reason, we have had two weeks in a row where one particular area has not performed very well. So, back to the drawing board.”
Starting the game, the Giants were the first team to get on the board after a scoreless first quarter with touchdowns by Brandon Jacobs and wideout Hakeem Nicks.
But neither score did much to produce any type of momentum for New York and they played sloppy football for most of the game. Not to mention, Nicks’ score actually came off a batted pass that he caught in midair and ran in for a 62-yard TD. So, it wasn’t planned by any means and could even have been considered a fluke.
Especially disappointing in this matchup was the fact that against a weak Arizona passing defense ranked near the bottom of the league, the Giants young receiver corps of Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham was unable to get any real separation and was stymied.
Coming into the game, the Giants passing game was supposed to take advantage of the Cards’ secondary but they failed to do so.
Arizona cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie did an excellent job at containing Smith, who was one of the league leaders in receptions over the first four games of the season.
Rodgers-Cromartie also frustrated Manning all game, intercepting the Giants quarterback in the end zone and killing a scoring drive. Safeties Adrian Wilson and Antrelle Rolle also contributed by confusing Eli and picking off passes in the third and fourth quarters respectively.
Credit must be given to Arizona defensive coordinator Bill Davis who called in plays that pressured and frustrated Manning all game long.
Poor Game for Gilbride
Utilizing the Cards’ speedy defense, Davis’s up-tempo defense kept Manning off his rhythm and even appeared to confuse Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
On several downs, Gilbride and Manning were unable to check off the Cardinals’ schemes, which resulted in delay of game penalties that cost the Giants yardage.
Behind Brandon Jacobs, the Giants ran the ball effectively, but the Cards’ top-ranked rushing defense did an admirable job in preventing him from having a big night, limiting him to less than 100 yards.
What also hurt New York was that Gilbride seemed to waver from the run in favor of the passing game during times when Jacobs seemed to be picking up steam.
The entire Giants’ offensive play calling just seemed out of sync and not aggressive. Gilbride also appeared to show little feel for the flow of the game.
On defense, the Giants did little to stop rookie running back Beanie Wells, who gained 67 yards off 14 carries and scored a 13-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
The aggressiveness of Arizona’s defense was the difference maker in this game. Led by defensive end Darnell Docket, linebacker Karlos Dansby, and safety Adrian Wilson, the defense showed excellent pursuit to the ball and tackled well.
But whether the Giants’ own coaching and sloppy play (including four turnovers—three interceptions and a fumble by Ahmad Bradshaw) contributed more to their loss than did Arizona’s defense is up for debate.
Whatever the reason, the Cardinals seemed to want it more, played with more intensity, and deserved to win the game.
Coach Coughlin knows his team has to play better. “I don’t have a whole lot to say at this point in time,” he said. “I think we have, obviously, a lot of work to do.”
Going to Get Tough
The Giants must now focus their attention on next week’s road game against the Philadelphia Eagles (4–2). This game will be an extremely tough matchup for the G-Men and they cannot afford to lose three straight with the San Diego Chargers (3–3) coming into Giants Stadium the following week.
After the Chargers, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Atlanta Falcons (4–2) visit Giants Stadium. Then the Giants hit the road for a game against the Denver Broncos (6–0), followed by divisional games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys (4–2).
Eli Manning knows the next game against Philadelphia is huge. “Any time you play any NFC opponent it is going to be a big game,” he said. “We have to play great football. It is going to go back to execution and we have to want to win more.”