Stay Cool And Catch The Ball

If the Giants expect to beat the Bears Sunday night, they must first tend to their own house, which is beset by turnover and composure issues.

You can't win turning the ball over. The Giants proved that Sunday.

You can't win, either, by giving the opposition acres of penalty yardage. The Giants proved that with 11 penalties against the Titans, just a day before the Packers reinforced the point when a team-record 18 flags took a major part in Monday night's 20-17 loss to the 3-0 Bears.

Coincidentally, the Giants play those same Bears Sunday night. And if they expect to beat a defense that held Aaron Rodgers and his group to 17 points, that offense had best come around quickly. The Bears' defense may not get chippy, or get under your skin like the Titans'. They just shut people down with good, old-fashioned speed and tackling. They create key turnovers, and they are nothing short of ferocious when they get on a roll.

Oh, yeah. The Bears had all of five penalties for 38 yards last night.

The first part of this equation leads us to Eli Manning. He has turnovers. Six interceptions so far. He knows it. And he knows things must change, quickly.

"I have to improve my play," Manning said. "You look at the turnovers that have happened on my part that I have this season. That's something I have to fix. There were two turnovers in every game. That's unacceptable, and you're not going to win games turning the ball over.

"It starts with me in that a lot of things we are doing well, a lot of good things, but there are too many negative plays. We have too many bad plays that are costing us games. I have to fix that. We have to make sure it starts with me and trickles down to everybody us."

To be totally fair, though, Manning is just being a good guy here. Page One of the team captain's manual states: "Never criticize a teammate in front of the media." Well, that's what it would say if there was a real manual. Point is, Manning shouldn't be blaming himself entirely.

Four of those interceptions came off his receivers' hands. Hakeem Nicks was the culprit on two of them – eminently catchable throws that either dropped into a defender's hands, as the one Sunday did, or squirted off into the air to be gathered in by a different uniform.

Manning wouldn't say it's inexcusable because he was being a good teammate.

Tom Coughlin, he doesn't have to be a good teammate. He's the boss.

"Why this is taking place with Hakeem…you've got to catch that ball," Coughlin said. "I can tell you, yeah, the routes should have been this way and the quarterback should have put it here and so on – you've got to catch the ball.

"If you throw the ball inside the numbers in this league and it is tipped, it's intercepted. That's all there is to it. We had a couple of other balls that were tipped that I was holding my breath on and they weren't surprises. It wasn't a surprise. You expect a guy at this level, if he gets his hands on the ball, he better catch the ball. Period."

Then there's the issue of the penalties. Personal fouls, delay of game on a field goal. All inexcusable stuff. But easily correctable. Keep one's head. Get the players set and snap the ball.

If the Giants take care of the ball and remain composed, they might just have a shot at the Bears come Sunday night.

But if they don't, well, Coughlin wasted no time in reiterating the consequences of their actions.

"Team," Coughlin said. "There's more to using the word. There's responsibility. And when I say don't let the other guys down, what do you think I'm talking about? Don't let the other guys down. You can't make the errors. You cannot be careless with the football.

"You're not going to win at this level. (Tennessee) had seven (turnovers) the week before and none (Sunday). We're benefitting nothing from the ball being ours anywhere. We're not getting any benefits in terms of turnovers and we're turning it over.

"Penalties. They had eight. Nobody pays any attention to what they had. We had 11, five of them personal fouls. That's 15 yards every time. It's not easy to make that ground up."

It's not easy to win like that, either. Stop the turnovers and penalties, and they'll have a shot at the Bears.

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