Jay Feely, who had made 23 of 25 field goals to that point through 10 games, missed three in a row -- including two in overtime. Any one of the three would have won the game and sent the Giants home with an 8-3 record and a growing reputation as one of the best teams in the NFC.
"I think they are just that," Seahawks defensive end Grant Wistrom
said. "I don't know of another team that played us so hard. It was a
great game, and we just happened to win it. I have a very strong feeling
we're going to see them in the playoffs."
The Giants did play with an intensity that was unfamiliar to the team
the past few years, but there were more mistakes than had been present
in that span as well.
Try an NFL-record 11 penalties for false start (five by left tackle
Luke Petitgout, a veteran of six years). The missed field goals were, in
the end, forgivable, but even they seemed to be a part of the overall
destiny, at least for this one game.
Now the Giants, who are 7-4, return home to host the 7-4 Dallas Cowboys in the battle for NFC East supremacy. Washington and
Philadelphia are all but out of the running, and with the Cowboys
holding an earlier victory over the Giants, this is not only for the
division lead but to eliminate one of Dallas' tiebreaker edges.
"I can't say that this was a game lost by one person," coach Tom
Coughlin said in defense of Feely. "We all made mistakes, and we were
able to get past them and create several chances to win the game. We
didn't. That's on all of us."
--The Giants had 16 penalties at Seattle, their highest total since
1948. The 11 false-start flags were a team high, and no one in team
history ever had five before, so give that record to left tackle Luke
Petitgout. "It was embarrassing to me, to my family and to my team," he
said, while admitting that "a certain percentage" of the reason was the
incredible noise generated by the Seattle home fans, which has become a
trademark whether they play inside (Kingdome) or outside.
--With all the penalties, it comes as a mild surprise that only two
of the offensive linemen were flagged at all. In addition to Petitgout's
five false starts, left guard David Diehl had three plus a holding call.
Right tackle Kareem McKenzie, right guard Chris Snee and center Shaun O'Hara played flawlessly.
--The Giants became the third team in the NFC East to play an
overtime game Thanksgiving weekend. Dallas previously lost to Denver,
and Washington lost to San Diego. The Eagles were the only division team
--Running back Tiki Barber on the Seahawks: "If that is the best the
NFC has to offer, what does it say about us?"
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--RB Tiki Barber gained 151 yards at Seattle, moving his season total
to 1,118 and putting him within range for a personal season high. He
needs slightly more than 80 yards in each of the next five games to
surpass last year's 1,518.
--DE Osi Umenyiora continues to become a Pro Bowl player in progress.
He had eight tackles against Seattle and two sacks, giving him 10 for
the season. He also forced a fumble.
--Rookie CB Corey Webster, who started at Seattle for ailing (and
less than outstanding) RCB Curtis Deloatch, led the team with 10 tackles
and batted away a deep pass to WR Bobby Engram. But he did give up a
touchdown toss to 6-foot-6 WR Joe Jurevicius (Webster is barely 6 feet)
on the goal line.
REPORT CARD VS SEAHAWKS
PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Second-year QB Eli Manning is becoming
more and more proficient in an almost unbelievably short amount of time.
He completed 29 of 53 passes for 344 yards and a pair of TDs, and
according to several in the huddle -- like RB Tiki Barber -- "He is more
of a leader than he was at the start of the season; he is in charge of
the huddle, absolutely." Manning is also making stars out of his
receivers (and they are doing that for him, too). TE Jeremy Shockey
caught 10 passes for 127 yards and a TD as well as a pass for a
two-point conversion. WR Plaxico Burress had six catches for 109 yards.
Amani Toomer, the slotback receiver, caught six for 62 and an acrobatic
touchdown grab. The offensive line, when it wasn't busy with false
starts, provided Manning with more than sufficient time to throw.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Seahawks were difficult to run against for
the first 10 games of the season, but the Giants managed 166 yards on
the ground. All but 15 of them belonged to Barber, who carried 26 times
for 151 yards. It was his second-highest production of the season,
behind only the 206 he gained last month against Washington. The line
blocked exceptionally well for the running game (again, discounting the
inordinate number of false-start flags), and much of the straight-ahead
blocking plaudits must go to the right side of the line, RT Kareem
McKenzie and RG Chris Snee.
PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- The Seahawks were allowed to complete 21 of
37 passes for 249 yards, and QB Matt Hasselbeck threw 14 completions to
his pair of Penn State wideouts, Joe Jurevicius and Bobby Engram.
Jurevicius, a former Giant, had eight catches for 137 yards and both TD
passes. Engram added six catches for 34 yards. The Giants got one
interception, by FS Brent Alexander, but there were too many incidents
of missed coverage and late-arriving defenders, especially on a key
38-yard completion to WR D.J. Hackett in overtime that led to the
winning field goal. Rookie RCB Corey Webster, in his first NFL start
(for Curtis Deloatch) led the team with 10 tackles and a pass defensed.
LCB Will Allen played his best game of the season with nine tackles, a
forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- It is said that San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson
and Seattle's Shaun Alexander are the two best running backs in the NFL.
The Giants probably would vote for Tomlinson. He had 196 yards and three
touchdowns against them earlier in the season, but Alexander, the
league's rushing leader, was "limited" to 110 yards on 31 carries -- and
had just 16 yards on seven carries in the first half. "I got hit harder
than any time this season," he said after the game. The defensive ends,
Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan, were focused on Alexander all day.
Umenyiora had eight tackles, Strahan six. MLB Antonio Pierce rushed the
gaps for most of the game and walked away with five tackles (of
Alexander) and a 9-yard sack. He also caught Alexander in the backfield
three times for minus-4 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Of course, the rating goes down due to PK Jay
Feely's three missed field goals, any one of which would have won the
game. His misses came from 40, 54 and 45 yards, and he called two of
them "absolutely possible" and the longest one "one that I could have
made." His kickoffs, as well, were not sailing into the end zone with
the frequency he had established earlier in the season. Six of them were
returned for 118 yards by Seattle's Josh Scobey. P Jeff Feagles appeared
in his 283rd consecutive game, breaking the NFL record held by
Minnesota's Jim Marshall. He punted seven times for a 37.3 average (34.4
net). Chad Morton took back four kickoffs for 101 yards (25.3 average)
and returned six punts for 50 yards.
COACHING: B-minus -- The team was prepared to play the Seahawks, and
coach Tom Coughlin's usual game-starting goal was met -- stop the
opponent's rushing game regardless of the proficiency of the passing
game. Alexander was, by and large, held harmless. That was a plus. But
the often shoddy pass coverage led to a few Seattle drives that hurt,
including the pass to Duckett that set up the winning field goal.
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