Eli Manning floated a horrendous pass on a third-and-11 play, one LCB Nick Harper intercepted at the Giants' 38 to halt their comeback bid with 3:51 left to play. Manning turned the wrong way to hand off to Tiki Barber late in the third quarter and compounded the mistake by still trying to force the ball to Barber, who had already run by him. LDE Robert Mathis recovered the fumble at Indianapolis' 49, with the Giants down two (16-14). Bottom Line: Eli won't be mistaken for the better Manning brother anytime soon.
Brandon Jacobs barreled over MLB Gary Brackett at the goal line en route to scoring a 1-yard touchdown with 8:01 to play. Tiki Barber gained 46 yards overall and accounted for four first downs on five touches during an accelerated one-minute, 53-second drive that resulted in their first touchdown just before halftime. Bottom Line: This is what Tom Coughlin envisioned from the Barber-Jacobs combination last season.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Third WR Tim Carter appeared completely innocent when he was whistled for an extremely costly pass interference penalty with 4:03 left in the game. Carter simply stopped and spun away from Harper, who fell to the ground on his own, allowing what should've stood as a 19-yard first-down catch for Carter. From behind, Plaxico Burress leaped over Harper to tip an underthrown Manning pass to himself. Spinning and falling, Burress grabbed the ball to score a touchdown that helped bring the Giants within six points (13-7) with 32 seconds left before halftime. Burress earlier showed incredible concentration by leaping, tipping the ball to himself and holding on as he fell for a 37-yard catch in the second quarter, with FS Bob Sanders draped around him. The huge gain atoned for Burress' two blocking penalties earlier in the drive, although the second infraction, a crack-back block on Harper, looked like a perfectly legal block. Bottom Line: Burress played like he did the first half of last season.
C Shaun O'Hara made what was called an illegal snap from Indianapolis' 49 with 17 seconds to play, which was very costly because it required a mandatory 10-second run-off and left the Giants time for only one play at the end of the game. He had help sometimes, but LT Luke Petitgout kept RDE Dwight Freeney out of Manning's face all night. Bottom Line: Manning wasn't sacked and the front five committed only two penalties.
DT Fred Robbins closed quickly on RB Dominic Rhodes and dropped Rhodes for a three-yard loss on a Manning screen around the midway mark of the second quarter. Robbins also showed persistence and shed C Dylan Gandy for the Giants' only sack of Manning, early in the second quarter. Bottom Line: Did they know that they were supposed to pressure Peyton Manning?
MLB Antonio Pierce prodded Robbins to shift at the line of scrimmage as Manning moved around the backfield in the fourth quarter. The shift made RG Jake Scott commit a false start, which forced the Colts into a second-and-11 situation from their 43. Pierce also batted away a Manning pass to TE Ben Utecht on the next play. The Colts punted after an ensuing Manning incompletion. Bottom Line: Pierce played really well in his return.
With the Giants down 16-14 late in the third quarter, nickel back R.W. McQuarters made a leaping interception on an underthrown Manning pass to TE Dallas Clark down the middle of the field. He returned it 16 yards to the Colts' 46. Reserve FS James Butler should've intercepted Manning's third-and-goal pass from the Giants' 8 intended for WR Marvin Harrison in the end zone. The drop allowed Adam Vinatieri's 26-yard FG with 6:07 left in the first quarter. Bottom Line: Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison had their way with them.
With the Giants down 6-0 midway through the second quarter, K Jay Feely pushed his first field-goal attempt wide left, a miss that eventually changed the game's complexion. Chad Morton lacked explosion and vision in averaging just 18.7 yards on six kick returns and six yards on two punt returns. Bottom Line: They didn't return kicks or cover kicks well.
No matter how smart Manning is, given the abilities of the Giants' pass-rushers defensive coordinator Tim Lewis should've devised schemes that applied pressure on him. Offensive coordinator John Hufnagel helped spell Tiki Barber by getting Brandon Jacobs eight productive carries. Bottom Line: They committed an inexcusable 10 penalties.
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