Giants.com's John Schmeelk takes a frame-by-frame look at a key play from the 2016 season:
With the Giants already in the playoffs, we thought it would make sense to look at what we think is the biggest play of the Giants' season and break it down.
The Situation: When the Giants played the Ravens on Oct. 16, they were in the middle of a three-game losing streak with a trip to London on the horizon. At 2-3, it was critical to get back on the winning side of things.
The Giants trailed the Ravens in the fourth quarter, 23-20, after a Terrence West touchdown with 2:08 remaining in the game. The Giants got the ball back from the Ravens and started their drive on their own 25-yard line after a touchback.
Two Larry Donnell catches on second and third down made it fourth-and-1 at their own 34-yard line with the game on the line.
The Formation: The Giants came out in their typical 11 personnel (one RB, one TE) with Victor Cruz wide and Sterling Shepard in the slot to the left of the formation. Bobby Rainey is in the backfield with Larry Donnell and Odell Beckham Jr. to the right of the formation.
The Ravens are obviously playing for the pass, coming out with six defensive backs. Zach Orr is the lone linebacker, with Kendrick Lewis, a safety, next to him behind the defensive line. Jerraud Powers is lined up tight over Odell Beckham Jr. Backups Anthony Levine and Chris Lewis-Harris are covering Cruz and Shepard. Eric Weddle is coming down from his safety position, leaving Lardarius Webb in a single-high safety alignment. This is exactly what the Giants like to see since it gives them the opportunity to make big plays.
The Play: From its outset, it's clear this play is designed to gain the first down, and not necessarily gain big chunks of yardage. Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard are both running inside routes to the left of the formation, as Bobby Rainey goes into the flat on that side.
To the right of the formation, where Eli is looking, the Giants designed a rub route to free up either Odell Beckham Jr. or Larry Donnell for a short catch for a first down. If Weddle is tighter up on Donnell here, Beckham likely gets in his way, freeing up Donnell for a short catch near the sideline and a first down out of bounds. Weddle, however, was playing off of Donnell which creates a whole different effect you will see in a moment.
The Collision: Since Weddle was so deep at the snap, when he closes hard on Donnell, who is on his way towards the sideline (and wide open), he clips cornerback Jerraud Powers instead. Beckham already has separation from Powers, and Eli is in the process of releasing the pass. He could have gone to Donnell for a surefire first down pass that would stop the clock but he knows something special can happen when you get the ball to Odell with this type of space.
You see that both Ravens linebacker Zack Orr and safety Lardarius Webb are shading away from Beckham to the side of the field with Cruz, Shepard and Rainey. Manning has a ton of space to lead Beckham towards and down the middle of the field.
The Catch: The collision has forced both Weddle and Powers to fall down. Beckham has caught Manning's pass perfectly in stride and is ready to work his magic. He has a ton of space in front of him with only one Ravens player, free safety Lardarius Webb between him and the end zone. With this much real estate, it's going to take a Herculean play from Webb to keep Beckham from getting into the end zone. A play that was designed for a minimal gain will have a chance to be the biggest play of the season, thanks to a couple of defensive miscues, good play design, a good read and throw by Manning and Beckham's ability to run with the ball.
The Angle: Webb knows Beckham has an entire side of the field to make a run to the end zone so he has to move towards the middle of the field to create an angle to prevent Odell from heading to the right sideline and straight for seven points. Once Webb commits in that direction, Beckham sees it and cuts back towards the middle of the field at full speed. Having to stop and change direction, Webb has no chance to make a play, and no one is fast enough to catch Beckham from behind.
The Blow By: Beckham has crossed Webb's face, and no one on the Ravens was fast enough to get him from behind as he cut across the field. With Beckham's speed, the only thing he has left to do is figure out what touchdown celebration to break out.
The Score: The Giants would go on to win 27-23, starting a six game winning streak that would propel the team into the playoffs.