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Giants succeed when run game is clicking


The NFL has become a passing league and the Giants have joined the party, but how well they run the ball remains a strong indicator regarding how the Giants will fare in any particular game.

On Sunday, the Giants rushed for 91 yards in a 23-10 loss to the Washington Redskins in MetLife Stadium. It was the eighth time this season the Giants ran for less than 100 yards. They are 2-6 in those games. The Giants have reached triple digits in rushing six times and have won five of those games (the exception was the 37-34 loss to Green Bay on Dec. 4).

The trend has held up for a while. In Tom Coughlin's eight seasons as head coach, the Giants are 56-25 (.691) when they rush for at least 100 yards and 16-29 (.356) when they don't.

The Giants can finish with no more than eight 100-yard rushing games this season, which would be the fewest of the Coughlin era; his inaugural Giants team in 2004 reached the century mark on the ground nine times. In 2008, when the Giants led the NFL with 157.4 rushing yards game, they ran for more than 100 yards in 12 of 16 games.

Although they've averaged almost exactly 100 rushing yards in their last three games, the Giants remain 32nd in the NFL in both yards per game on the ground (86.1) and yards per carry (3.4). If those figures don't improve, they will be the team's lowest season-ending averages since 1945 (76.9 yards a game) and 1999 (3.3 yards per carry). The Giants have not finished last in the NFL in rushing yards per game since 1953 (87.4 yards a game) and last in yards-per-carry since 1975 (3.4).

But low rushing numbers or rankings does not preclude a team from enjoying success. Since the current playoff format was introduced in 1990, only two teams have reached the playoffs despite finishing last in the league in the NFL in rushing: Arizona in 2008 and Indianapolis in 2009. But both of those teams reached the Super Bowl.

*One reason for the current rushing numbers is the Giants' inability to break off long runs. They have an NFL-low two runs of at least 20 yards all season – Ahmad Bradshaw had a 37-yarder at Philadelphia and a 30-yarder vs. Buffalo. Their current eight-game streak without a 20-yard run is their longest since 1995.

*Bradshaw leads the team with 548 rushing yards (35 more than Brandon Jacobs). That puts him on a pace to finish the season with 626 yards, which would be the lowest total by a Giants rushing leader since Joe Montgomery topped the team with 348 yards in 1999.

*Despite their struggles running the ball, the Giants are 7-7 and in control of their postseason destiny as they prepare for their game Saturday against the Jets. A big reason for that is the productivity of Eli Manning and the passing attack.

The Giants have set a franchise record with 4,186 net passing yards and their 299.0-yard average places them third in the NFL. The last time the Giants finished in the top three in passing yardage was 1973, when they were second – with an average of only 182.9 yards a game. That team finished 2-11-1.

This season, the Giants' lowest net passing yardage total was 204 yards on Sept. 19 against St. Louis, making this the first time in history the Giants had 14 consecutive 200-yard passing games. Manning has thrown at least 40 passes in each of the last four games, another franchise mark.

*Manning, who has thrown every one of the Giants' 529 passes this season, has already set the single-season yardage record with 4,362 yards – 288 more yards than Kerry Collins' previous record, set in 2002. He has moved into third in the NFL, two yards ahead of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. Manning needs 40 pass attempts to break Collins' franchise record of 568, set in 2001, and 14 completions to break his own mark of 339, set last year.

*Victor Cruz has 1,191 receiving yards and needs 150 yards in the final two games to break Amani Toomer's franchise record of 1,343, set in 2002. Cruz is fourth in the NFL in receiving yards. If that holds up through the end of the season, he will be the first Giant to finish in the top four since Toomer was third in 2002.

*Hakeem Nicks also has a chance to break Toomer's record. He has a career-high 1,096 yards and needs 248 yards to pass Toomer.

*Manning did not throw a touchdown pass in the Giants' loss Sunday to Washington. The Giants are 7-13 when Manning starts and does not throw a touchdown pass. They are 60-37 when he does.

Manning threw three interceptions vs. the Redskins. The Giants are 37-42 in his starts when he throws a pick and 30-8 when he doesn't.

*Manning continues to lead the NFL in fourth-quarter passing with a rating of 111.8. That includes an NFL record-tying 14 touchdown passes and five interceptions.

*The Giants committed one more turnover than the Redskins, which history shows makes it difficult for them to win. This season, they are 0-5 when they have a negative turnover differential. They are 11-36 in such games under Coughlin, who is 17-72 in his career when his teams have more turnovers than takeaways.

*Washington converted eight of 15 third-down opportunities, the fifth consecutive Giants opponent with a success rate of at least 50 percent. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the first time that's happened since the 1970 merger.

*The Giants began preparing for the Jets game today with meetings and a late afternoon practice.

*The following players will appear on the Giants' injury report tomorrow: center David Baas (neck); tight ends Jake Ballard (knee), Travis Beckum (chest) and Bear Pascoe (ribs); running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot); linebacker Mark Herzlich (ankle); wide receivers Mario Manningham (knee) and Devin Thomas (neck); safety Derrick Martin (back); and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee). Their practice participation, and any adjustments to the list, will be made after Wednesday's practice.

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