It's something that wins football games. It's something the Giants didn't possess yesterday in their 29-10 loss to the Titans. And now, Tom Coughlin has to figure out how to drum poise back into his veteran players and get them to come out as a cohesive, point-scoring, point-denying unit next week against Chicago.
Coughlin wound up pulling two players – the opinionated Antrel Rolle and the more introspective Kareem McKenzie, after they got called for retaliation fouls. The Giants were called for 11 fouls, a whopping five of them of the personal foul variety. Coughlin later said he'd never coached a team that was called for that many personals.
"I can attribute it to the retaliation," Coughlin said. "It's another one of those deals where macho…you know, he's doing this…but they all have heard it a million times and yet it happened.
"Well, obviously we can focus on it, but we played lousy football a week ago and had three penalties. This week we had 11 – five personal fouls. We should have won the football game. This team out here (Tennessee) coming into our game had eight one week and 11 another. We'll get it under control, but you're going to get it under control as soon as the player realizes that when he retaliates, there's only one flag. They never see the first one. It's the retaliation that gets it every time."
Add that on top of three turnovers, two of which stopped drives to the Tennessee 6, and you've got the ingredients for a huge loss.
Run Defense: Chris Johnson rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns, but he did carry the ball 32 times. So it came out to less than four yards per carry, certainly not a Johnson-like average. Still, Johnson made enough plays to hurt the Giants.
Eli Manning: Tipped balls are killing this guy. Both his interceptions came off tips. But otherwise, the Giants put him in the air 48 times, and he completed 34 of them for 386 yards. It wasn't like the Giants didn't have scoring chances, as Manning did move the team. The offense put up 470 yards to the Titans' 271.
Mario Manningham: He's becoming a real artist on the sidelines after a year of problems there. His 20-yard catch at the Tennessee 10 was a thing of foot-awareness beauty. Too bad his 44-yarder later in the game got wiped out.
Eli Manning: Again with the tipped balls. He threw two interceptions to end the first two drives, the second being of the end zone variety. That was a horrible and ill-advised throw to Kevin Boss that was tipped by Will Witherspoon and intercepted by Jason McCourty. Better to either try to score there on foot or just chuck it out of the end zone. But a left-handed, shot put throw? Didn't make sense. And even Manning realized it. "That is one of those things where everything is telling you to try to get him the ball, but you just have to know you can't afford to have a turnover there and especially can't afford to float it in that situation," Manning said. "Sometimes you have to know when to stop competing a little bit, just say, ‘they got us,' and either throw it with your right hand or don't throw it and take the sack and get the field goal."
Ahmad Bradshaw: Manning had just found Mario Manningham for a 44-yard completion to get the Giants off their goal line, but the officials caught Bradshaw chop blocking and threw the flag. Nothing like a go-ahead safety to give a team momentum. And then he fumbled at the Tennessee 6 a few minutes later. A game to forget.
Matt Dodge: How in the world does one get a delay of game on a field goal when it's still a game? Get the snap off, get the kick up. Anything that happens after that is the kicker's fault. Dodge turned a 39-yard try into a 44-yarder that Lawrence Tynes sent wide right. But no field goal should ever be undermined by a passive violation like that.
Kick Coverage: Ugh. Continues to stink.Want more in-depth coverage on your favorite NFL team? Click here and get started today.