X's and O's: Giants 27, Saints 48

Here is a look at how the Giants did, position by position, against the Saints.

QUARTERBACKS

WR Steve Smith had a step on both nickel CB Randall Gay and FS Darren Sharper down the middle of the field, but Eli Manning overthrew him on a third-and-five play from New Orleans' 31 late in the first quarter. Manning's misfire made the Giants settle for a 49-yard FG by Lawrence Tynes and 14-3 deficit on the next play. Earlier in the first quarter, WR Domenik Hixon had LCB Jabari Greer beaten deep on a third-and-three play from the Giants' 41, but Manning underthrew the ball. Bottom Line: Manning wasn't accurate, but this debacle wasn't his fault.

RUNNING BACKS

RB Ahmad Bradshaw was out of position and didn't pick up blitzing SS Roman Harper, which forced Eli Manning to unload an errant pass in the third quarter much earlier than designed. LCB Jabari Greer intercepted Manning's pass at New Orleans' 18. Bradshaw broke two tackles on a 13-yard run that moved the Giants to New Orleans' 13 on their second scoring drive of the game, which resulted in a 10-yard TD run by Bradshaw. Bottom Line: They all but abandoned the run once they got down big.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

WR Mario Manningham showed strength by pulling Manning's pass out of FS Darren Sharper's grip near the goal line late in the second quarter. Wrestling the ball away from Sharper allowed Manningham to score a 15-yard touchdown that got the Giants within 10 points (27-17), with 3:19 to go in the first half. Later in the second quarter, TE Kevin Boss' hustle prevented LB Scott Shanle from scoring what would've been a 19-yard touchdown after Shanle recovered Eli Manning's fumble. Boss tackled Shanle from behind at the Giants' 7. Bottom Line: They got open often, but it wasn't nearly enough.

OFFENSIVE LINE

With the Giants down 41-17, C Shaun O'Hara's holding penalty on fourth-and-goal from New Orleans' 10 negated what would've been a 10-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to RB Brandon Jacobs early in the fourth quarter. RT Kareem McKenzie knocked two New Orleans defenders out of the way, allowing Ahmad Bradshaw to run through a huge hole for a 10-yard score that cut New Orleans' lead to 20-10 at the 7:41 mark of the second quarter. Bottom Line: They ran well when they tried.

DEFENSIVE LINE

LT Zach Strief was trying to cut him low, but RDE Osi Umenyiora's strength allowed him to stand up RB Pierre Thomas at the line of scrimmage on a pivotal fourth-and-goal play from the Giants' 1. Stopping Thomas prevented New Orleans from building on its 27-17 lead with 55 seconds to go in the first half. DT Fred Robbins' pad level was too low and RB Mike Bell jumped right over the center of the Giants' defensive front for the Saints' first score, a 2-yard run midway through the first quarter. Bottom Line: Their lack of pressure on Drew Brees was a big reason they lost.

LINEBACKERS

WR Marques Colston beat MLB Antonio Pierce down the middle of the field for a 29-yard reception that advanced the Saints to the Giants' 1 late in the first quarter. New Orleans took a 14-0 lead on the next play, on which SLB Danny Clark stumbled while trying to cover TE Jeremy Shockey in the back of the end zone. Shockey caught a 1-yard touchdown. Bottom Line: They weren't the biggest culprits in this defensive mess.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

With his eye on the ball, LCB Corey Webster inadvertently tripped WR Marques Colston for a 35-yard pass interference infraction that gave the Saints the ball at the Giants' 12 in the second quarter. New Orleans went ahead 27-10 two plays later. Webster got both hands on the ball, but failed to intercept Brees' fifth pass of the game in the middle of the field. It instead went for an 18-yard gain to WR Lance Moore on a third-and-eight play from the Giants' 43. The play led to the Saints' first score and set the tone for an atrocious afternoon. Bottom Line: There's not enough space in this issue to detail all their struggles.

SPECIAL TEAMS

WR Domenik Hixon brought back a kickoff 45 yards in the first quarter, before adding a 68-yard kick return in the second quarter. As Sinorice Moss' replacement, Hixon also returned a punt 27 yards in the third quarter. Bottom Line: Hixon's play was one of the lone positives in this game.

COACHING

The Saints scored on the next play anyway, but Tom Coughlin wisely challenged what was originally ruled a 29-yard touchdown catch for WR Marques Colston in the first quarter. He was clearly down before he reached the end zone. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan failed to find ways to get to Drew Brees. Bottom Line: They're not the best team in the NFC.

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