Eli Manning didn't get enough velocity on his pass to WR Amani Toomer, a flaw LCB Eric Wright exploited as he picked it off and returned it 94 yards for a touchdown with 8:07 left in the game. Manning lofted the ball in the perfect spot for WR Plaxico Burress to catch a 3-yard touchdown pass near the front corner of the end zone, a score that cut Cleveland's lead to 17-14 with just 12 seconds to play in the first half. Manning never looked to his right, so he didn't see FS Brodney Pool lurking in the middle of the field before he threw a pass toward a well-covered Burress that Pool intercepted at Cleveland's 5 late in the first quarter. Bottom Line: This was Manning's worst performance since the four-interception Minnesota nightmare last season.
Five of RB Derrick Ward's 10 carries went for 13 yards or more. RB Brandon Jacobs lowered his shoulder and barreled over SS Mike Adams en route to a 7-yard touchdown that helped put the Giants ahead, 7-3, with 12:09 to go in the first half. Bottom Line: The Jacobs-Ward combination was again a bright spot.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Each of WR Steve Smith's six first-half catches accounted for first downs. TE Kevin Boss picked up blitzing DB Nick Sorensen on a third-and-6 play from the Giants' 24 early in the third quarter, which allowed Manning to run up the middle for 13 yards. WR Domenik Hixon's illegal block in the back cost the Giants 10 yards of field position following Burress' 25-yard catch at the 9:45 mark of the second quarter. Bottom Line: Smith was their most effective offensive player.
LG Rich Seubert flattened WLB D'Qwell Jackson to open the hole for Ward's 15-yard run that got the Giants to the Browns' 15, with about nine minutes left to play. LT David Diehl sealed off ILB Andra Davis to spring Ward for a 17-yard gain on the first play of the second quarter. Jacobs' 7-yard touchdown helped give the Giants a 7-3 edge four plays later. Bottom Line: The Giants rushed for 181 yards and allowed only one sack of Manning.
LDE Justin Tuck was double-covered on various plays, but his inability, along with that of RDE Mathias Kiwanuka, to put pressure on QB Derek Anderson were primary factors in this defeat. Neither was credited with even a hurry in the game. NT Barry Cofield's persistence enabled him to track down RB Jerome Harrison, whose 33-yard gain on a reverse advanced Cleveland to the Giants' 13 early in the third quarter. The Browns settled for a 26-yard FG by K Phil Dawson four plays later. Bottom Line: Anderson had too much time to throw.
SLB Danny Clark's diving leg tackle of Harrison prevented him from gaining much more than 8 yards up the middle, just after the midway mark of the third quarter. MLB Antonio Pierce was too slow to react down the middle of the field on TE Darnell Dinkins' 22-yard touchdown catch, which helped move Cleveland in front, 17-7, with 2:15 to play in the second quarter. Bottom Line: They were adequate.
An out-of-position, twisting LCB Aaron Ross cramped up and fell down on WR Braylon Edwards' 11-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter. The easy score gave Cleveland a 27-14 advantage with 14:55 to play. Ross also slipped as Edwards turned inside, a fall that cost the Giants a 70-yard reception that set up Jamal Lewis' 4-yard touchdown that moved Cleveland in front, 10-7, at the 11:10 mark of the second quarter. Ross' failed arm tackle near the Giants' 30 resulted in Edwards' 49-yard reception that got the Browns in position for Dawson's 28-yard FG with 10:08 to go in the first quarter. Bottom Line: Edwards abused Ross all night.
KR Ahmad Bradshaw dropped Dawson's kickoff early in the fourth quarter, a miscue that forced the Giants to start a drive at their own 14. CB Terrell Thomas' timing allowed him to drop PR Josh Cribbs as soon as Cribbs caught Jeff Feagles' punt at the 8:11 mark of the third quarter. Bottom Line: These units didn't really hurt nor help the cause.
Head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride should've had Manning running the offense in much faster fashion when they were down three scores in the fourth quarter. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo didn't blitz enough to account for the lack of pressure applied by the Giants' front four. Bottom Line: Cleveland is better than its record, but this was an embarrassing defeat on national television.
X's and O's
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