The New York Giants and New Orleans Saints collided on Sunday at the Superdome in a game that saw the unbeaten Saints shred the Giants. The Saints can possibly claim early bragging rights as the best team in the NFC as they destroyed the Giants 48–27.
Most surprisingly in this game was how the Giants defense was dominated from start to finish. New York came into the match-up with the league’s top-ranked defense and had only given up 211 yards per game. However, against Drew Brees, they were gashed for 500 total yards, with 315 of them coming in the first half. They failed to get anywhere near the Saints quarterback.
Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora summed it up, “So many things happened out there today and for some reason we just couldn’t stop them.”
So historic was this beat down that it was the first time any Giants defense had surrendered 500 yards since 1980.
The first quarter was indicative of the entire game. The Giants defense seemed powerless to prevent the Saints from scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions, one of them going to former Giant Jeremy Shockey.
After trailing by two scores, the Giants finally managed to get on the board at the end of the quarter with a 49-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes, cutting the lead to 14–3. But that field goal would do little to keep the Giants in the game.
On their next drive, Brees and the Saints went back and scored another touchdown. The G-Men did manage to block the extra point, however, the score was still 20–3.
On their next possession, the Giants cut the score to 20–10 after putting together a 63-yard scoring drive that included passes to Mario Manningham, Domenik Hixon, and a 10-yard touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw.
But New Orleans would again put distance between themselves and New York. With a little over five minutes left in the second quarter, the Saints got a break due to a terrible pass interference call on Corey Webster. Webster tried to defend against star receiver Marques Colston and the penalty put the Saints deep in New York territory.
Brees responded by throwing his third touchdown pass of the game to Lance Moore for a 12-yard bullet down the middle of the end zone.
Trailing by 17 points, Manning and the Giants got much needed help after Domenik Hixon delivered a 68-yard kickoff return. With good field position, Manning hit tight-end Kevin Boss for a big 18-yard catch and then capped off the drive with a crisp 15-yard touchdown strike to Mario Manningham in the left corner of the end zone.
On the ensuing drive, the Giants defense stopped the Saints with a terrific goal line stand and gave the ball back to their offense. But in a nightmarish scenario, with just under two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Manning was stripped of the ball and it was recovered by New Orleans at the 10-yard line. The Saints capitalized by a seven-yard run by Reggie Bush that increased their lead 34–17.
More of the Same
As ugly as the first half was for the Giants, the second half was equally bad.
The Saints defense shut down the Giants offense for the entire third quarter and pressured Manning into several bad throws, one of which resulted in an interception to Saints cornerback Jabari Greer.
The Saints would go on to score another touchdown before head coach Sean Payton decided it was enough and sat Brees midway through the fourth quarter. Brees finished the game, completing 23 of 30 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was frustrated in his defense’s inability to slow down the Saints quarterback, “From my standpoint, there wasn’t much pressure,” he said. “I don’t know if we ever hit him [Brees]. If you’re going to be able to defend the pass, let’s face it, at this level in this game, you’ve got to force the quarterback not to throw it on his time.”
Manning was mediocre during his homecoming debut, completing 14 of 31 passes for 178 yards, one touchdown, and two turnovers. In his defense, he was under pressure for most of the game.
If there was a bright spot for the Giants, it was kick returner Domenik Hixon. Hixon was very effective on kickoff returns, returning 7 for 230 yards, with an average of 32.9 yards per return.
The story of this game, though, was the inept play of the Giants defense. On six possessions, the Saints scored touchdowns on five of them. Giants defensive players often looked confused and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan had no answer for the Saints firepower.
Tom Coughlin knows his team has to improve, “Obviously, we could not stop them,” he said. “We couldn’t get them out. There are no excuses. We played poorly. We have to regroup.”
With the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals coming to town next weekend, the Giants better improve quickly because Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston can shred a defense as well as anyone in the league.