GI Staff: X's and O's

QUARTERBACKS Eli Manning made two troublesome throws toward TE Jeremy Shockey, both of which were intercepted by Philadelphia in the fourth quarter. The first high throw, on a second-and-five play from the Giants' 35 yard line, was picked off by LCB Sheldon Brown at the Eagles' 43. K David Akers drilled a 50-yard field goal on the Eagles' ensuing drive to tie the game 23-23 with 1:52 to play.

With the Giants driving deeper into Philadelphia territory on their next drive, Manning made an even worse throw over Shockey's head. That second interception, on a second-and-10 play from Philadelphia's 46, was caught by SS Michael Lewis at the 25 and returned 13 yards with 29 seconds to play. That denied Jay Feely an earlier opportunity at making a game-winning kick in regulation. Manning also had a ball tipped by LDE Jevon Kearse at the line of scrimmage in overtime, and FS Brian Dawkins intercepted it at Philadelphia's 37 on a fourth-and-three play. Bottom Line: "Erratic Eli" played in reverse Sunday.


Tiki Barber shifted direction four times and eluded five Eagles overall before finishing with a 32-yard reception off a screen pass at the end of the third quarter. Ten of Barber's 37 touches accounted for first downs (nine) or scores (one). Brandon Jacobs broke the plane and deserved a one-yard touchdown in the second quarter, but was officially 0-for-2 in short-yardage situations. Bottom Line: Let's try Tiki more near the goal line.


TE Jeremy Shockey was hit hard by SS Michael Lewis upon catching the pass, but held on for a pivotal five-yard catch on a third-and-four play from the Giants' 25 with around 4:30 to play. Shockey, who caught 10 passes (six for first downs), allowed Manning's floated deep pass to play him in the second quarter, which nearly cost the Giants an interception as Dawkins leaped up in front of him, but dropped the ball near Philadelphia's 40 yard line. WR Plaxico Burress made a nice adjustment on a Manning pass that was tipped, a catch he converted into a 10-yard first down on a third-and-nine play from the Giants' 41 early in the third quarter. Bottom Line: Shockey was especially effective because they couldn't go deep.


LT Bob Whitfield was flagged for illegal use of the hands (10 yards) in the second quarter and a false start apiece in the first, third and fourth quarters. LG Jason Whittle was whistled for a 10-yard holding penalty and a five-yard false start on back-to-back plays late in the second quarter. The infractions forced the Giants into a third-and-17 predicament and they punted. C Shaun O'Hara showed awareness by shoving Barber and the pile forward, as Dawkins attempted to stop him from crossing the goal line for a four-yard touchdown 5:38 into the game. Bottom Line: This type of Whitfield-Luke Petitgout competition is not what we had in mind.


RDE Osi Umenyiora was persistent in trailing QB Mike McMahon, whom he stripped as McMahon almost began his throwing motion in overtime. Backup LDT Kenderick Allen recovered McMahon's fumble at Philadelphia's 27 and Jay Feely made a game-winning 36-yard FG four plays later. LDE Michael Strahan relentlessly pursued McMahon for an eight-yard sack early in overtime that forced a Philadelphia punt. Bottom Line: They recorded five of the Giants' six sacks.


SLB Carlos Emmons helped provide pressure from the front on the play that resulted in Umenyiora's strip. WLB Nick Greisen leaped to knock down a McMahon attempt to WR Billy McMullen on a third-and-eight play from Philadelphia's 32 with less than two minutes left. Greisen's deflection forced the Eagles, down 23-20, to settle for a 50-yard FG attempt by K David Akers. Emmons missed a diving tackle on RB Ryan Moats near the Giants' 10, which allowed Moats to reach the end zone for a game-tying, 18-yard TD with 1:53 left in the first half. Bottom Line: They missed MLB Antonio Pierce's presence in the middle.


RCB Curtis Deloatch barely touched WR Reggie Brown's left arm with his right hand, but was whistled for an 11-yard pass interference penalty early in the third quarter. LCB Will Allen smoothly used his left hand to bat down a McMahon-to-McMullen attempt in the end zone on a third-and-14 play from the Giants' 34 late in the first half. SS Gibril Wilson was completely sealed off by FB Josh Parry near the Eagles' sideline, which sprung Moats for a 40-yard touchdown that tied the score 7-7 with 7:52 left in the first quarter. Bottom Line: They were solid against the Terrell Owens-less Eagles.


Though his kickoffs were still consistently short, K Jay Feely was back to being his reliable self. He drilled FGs from 24, 21, 27 and 36 yards. P Jeff Feagles dropped one of his two punts inside Philadelphia's 20. None of the five kicks returned by WR Willie Ponder went for more than 20 yards. Third-string TE Sean Berton was whistled for a holding infraction that cost the Giants 10 yards of field position on a first-quarter kickoff. Bottom Line: Feely definitely needed a day like this.


The play-calling by offensive coordinator John Hufnagel was entirely too conservative during the fourth quarter and overtime. Tom Coughlin's decision to decline a 10-yard pass interference penalty and instead allow K David Akers to drill a game-tying, 42-yard FG just before halftime was simply dumbfounding. Coughlin should not have been forced to risk a timeout, much less lost one, after Jacobs barreled backward into the end zone for an apparent touchdown that was discarded early in the second quarter. Bottom Line: Coughlin should fine himself for that ridiculous decision.

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