All those questions about Tom Coughlin’s job status that seemed so silly throughout the season have to take on new significance after Sunday’s whopping 45-17 loss to the Packers.
Forget all those stats about the Giants taking first-game exits in every playoff year under Coughlin except 2007. If the Giants don’t beat Washington next week, or if even they do and the Packers beat the Bears, Coughlin’s 9-6 team will miss the playoffs for the second straight year. And that’s never good in this “what have you done for me lately” coaching atmosphere.
Let’s just say that virtually every part of the Giants’ game broke down in a Win and In situation. Eli Manning threw four interceptions, the running backs fumbled twice, and the defense gave up 500 yards of total offense for the first time since 1980. Those are pretty bad numbers for a team that purports itself to be a playoff-worthy squad. At least it wasn’t a no-show, like the two games against Carolina and Minnesota that ended last season. But neither was it a gallant performance.
And the worst part: the snowstorm in New York closed all the airports, so the team had to stay overnight in Green Bay.
Plenty of goats to go around here. Like last week, let’s start with the bad.
Eli Manning: Four picks, which give him a league-high 24 on the season. His third one turned into the John Kuhn touchdown that created the final score. The Giants now have turned the ball over a league-high 40 times which, if you’re keeping score, is a lot.
Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs: Two hands on the ball! Two hands on the ball! Especially you, Bradshaw, who lost his league-leading sixth fumble that turned into a Mason Crosby field goal. And Jacobs, you got the ball punched out by Charles Woodson at the end of a run that took you to the Packers’ 28. Hold onto that and the Giants might have made it a seven-point game at the end of the third quarter.
Goal line defense: Anybody home? Six possessions inside the 10 and the Packers scored on five of them, and they barely broke a sweat doing it. Can’t come close to winning with that kind of performance. Fullback John Kuhn outscored the Giants singlehandedly on two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown from close range.
Pass Rush: Close just isn’t good enough, especially against a quarterback like Rodgers. Because the Giants sacked him only once, Rodgers slipped and slid away from the pressure and often found wide-open receivers for 404 yards worth of passing and four touchdowns. Cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster were simply no match for Greg Jennings, who had 142 receiving yards on seven catches. That’s understandable. Jennings is one of the league’s top receivers. But Jordy Nelson getting 124 and a touchdown off four catches is unforgivable.
Matt Dodge: Yet another shank. But the first-quarter flub still put the Packers at their 20. Blame Rodgers’ 80-yard touchdown throw to Nelson on Antrel Rolle, who Nelson beat badly downfield.
Running game: Looks like it really has gone south. The Eagles stopped it last week, and the Packers limited Jacobs and Bradshaw to 76 yards between them, with no touchdowns. For a team that wants to run in the cold weather, that’s not a good sign heading into next week.
The Hangover? Don’t really know if they were thinking about that Eagles fourth-quarter crash and burn, considering they had their hands full with Rodgers and his group. Still, they only trailed 24-17 in the third before the roof caved in. If this was truly a hangover, methinks they’d have been blown out from the start.
Manning: His two touchdown passes, the last an 85-yarder to Mario Manningham, made him the first Giants quarterback to throw 30 in a season since Y.A. Tittle set the team record with 36 in 1963. No big deal, of course. Just something to keep him warm over a long offseason if things don’t break right next week.
Manningham: Four catches for 132 yards and that long touchdown. Not a bad day. Hakeem Nicks had 93 and a touchdown off four catches. But not nearly enough came in between the catches.