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Film Review: Turnovers, big plays cost Giants

The Giants lost to the Packers, 31-13, on Sunday at Metlife Stadium. It snowed in the first quarter, which covered the field. The precipitation then changed to freezing rain, which caused slick conditions. Here’s what I saw on coaches’ tape:

* Some the same issues that have plagued the Giants all season cropped up against Green Bay. The Giants were -3 in turnover ratio. The Packers were 7 of 13 on third down, including several 3rd and longs, despite being one of the worst third down teams in football heading into the game. The Packers had four pass plays of 20 or more yards, including two of 35 or more. Their 7 pass plays of 15 or more yards was tied for 7th most in the league in week 13.

* The Giants ran the ball better than they have in the last few games, but they failed to convert in short yardage on their first drive. On a third and one, the Packers put two players over center Jon Halapio. He blocked Blake Martinez, which let Kenny Clark slide between Halapio and Will Hernandez to stop Barkley for a three-yard loss. Hernandez was double-teaming the Packers right defensive end with Nate Solder on the play.

* The Giants kept their second drive alive by converting a 3rd and 2 on a play action rollout, when Jones completed a pass to tight end Kaden Smith as the second crosser. Later in the drive, Jones went to Darius Slayton at the sticks to convert a 4th and 5 behind excellent protection. Three plays later, Sterling Shepard ran a double-move down the left sideline and made a great shoe-string catch for an 18-yard touchdown.

* Jones did a nice job protecting the ball in the pocket. On two separate plays, Packers hit Jones’ arms when they swiped for the football, but he held onto it. Za’Darius Smith rushed from Jones’ front-side on the Giants second drive. The second instance, Kyler Fackrell rushed from Jones’ blind side and chopped down on Jones’ arms but the quarterback got a second hand on the ball to keep possession. He was then able to get it downfield to Smith for a 32-yard gain.

* The next drive ended with a Daniel Jones interception. Early in the series, the Giants tried a flea-flicker but the Packers sniffed it out. On 3rd and 10, Jones threw a comeback route against 2-deep, man underneath defense. Kevin King was in trail technique (between the receiver and quarterback) and in perfect position to intercept the pass.

* The Giants’ next possession was a deliberate 18-play, 66-yard drive that consumed 9:31 of the third quarter. In order to keep the drive going, the Giants converted a 3rd and 6 (pass to Slayton), 4th and 1 (quarterback sneak) and a 4th and 2 (read-option with Jones keeping it). Jones hurt his ankle at some point on this drive put played through the injury. He had a chance to put it in the end zone on a throw to Shepard, but the ball was too high and slightly behind him.

* The Giants managed a field goal on their first drive of the second half, despite a 29-yard throw to Slayton getting called back due to offsetting penalties. Three plays later on a 3rd and 12, Jones found Cody Latimer, who beat Tramon Williams one on one on a deep post for a 43-yard gain. A RPO (run-pass option) gone wrong resulted in 2nd and 14. Pressure from Za’Darius Smith and a blitzing Tramon Williams forced a third down incompletion, which led to a 45-yard field goal.

* Rosas had a nice bounce back game, converting an extra point and field goals from 27 and 45 yards. The operation between new long snapper Colin Holba, holder Riley Dixon and Rosas was pretty smooth despite the poor conditions.

* The game got away from the Giants on their next two drives. Jones had Shepard open on a 3rd and 18 slant, but the ball sailed well over Shepard’s head and to safety Darnell Savage.

* The Giants turned it over again on the next drive. Jones tried to hit Slayton on a go-route down the left sideline. Tramon Williams stayed over the top of Slayton, who tried to get inside of Williams to create a throwing lane, but it forced him to slow down a bit. The pass went over Slayton and into Williams’ hands. After the game, Slayton would say it was his job to either catch the pass or prevent the interception.

* Slayton played another strong game, catching six of nine targets for 44 yards. He made a nice hands catch that he initially bobbled on the sideline. Two of those unsuccessful targets were interceptions. Rookie tight end Kaden Smith had his best game as a pro, with six catches for 70 yards.

* Jones wasn’t sacked, but the Packers did have 7 quarterback hits. Five belonged to Za’Darius Smith. The Packers pressured Jones on 41.5% of his dropbacks, the seventh highest rate of the week, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). The Packers blitzed only six times in the game.

* Saquon Barkley to have his best game in weeks. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry, and finished with 83 yards on 19 carries. He also caught a screen pass that went for 27 yards. He made defenders miss in space. He ran hard and straight ahead between the tackles.

* Jones threw the deep ball in this game extremely well. According to PFF, on passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air, Jones was 4 of 5 for 122 yards and an interception. One of those completions was called back on offsetting penalties.

* On Green Bay’s second play from scrimmage, it looked like the Giants were in an inverted cover-two zone, with the two cornerbacks playing deep and their safeties in a short zone. On a play action pass from under center, Allen Lazard ran a post and Rodgers led him all the way across the field. The result was a 43-yard catch.

* The Packers faced a 3rd and 8 three plays later. Pressure from Leonard Williams, Lorenzo Carter and Markus Golden flushed Rodgers out of the pocket, but Davante Adams opened on a whip route for a 10-yard gain. Two plays later, tight end Marcedes Lewis ran a crossing route to open up the middle of the field, which left Davante Adams wide open for a touchdown.

* On the next drive, Rodgers converted a 3rd and 5 on a 15-yard scramble to move the ball into Giants territory. Two plays later, on another play action pass from under center, Rodgers found Lazard on a deep post for a 37-yard touchdown. Lazard was operating out of the right slot against safety Antoine Bethea, who was more than 10 yards deep. Lazard ran a double move and was open for the touchdown. 

* The Packers play-action passing game from under center has been one of their biggest weapons. They like to run deep crossers, posts and go-routes off of those plays and continued to do so on Sunday.

* The Packers started their next drive near midfield after Jones’ first interception. A 16-yard completion to tight end Jimmy Graham in the middle of the field converted a 3rd and 4. Rodgers did a nice job stepping up in the pocket to avoid Dalvin Tomlinson. The Giants forced a field goal when Janoris Jenkins played good defense on a 9 route (fly route) to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Rodgers tried to put it slightly behind his receiver, but Jenkins got his head turned around and stayed between Rodgers and his target for the incompletion.

* The Giants forced a punt on the Packers’ first drive of the second half. After converting a 3rd and 13 on a pass to Lazard over the middle, Alec Ogletree stopped Aaron Jones for a three-yard loss on first down. On second down, Grant Haley played good defense on wide receiver Geronimo Allison on a deep ball to force an incompletion. On third down, a Markus Golden pressure forced a check down to Jamaal Williams that fell incomplete.

* The Packers got the ball on their next possession leading, 17-13. On their first play, Rodgers ran a play action pass from under center and Adams ran a double move on DeAndre Baker. He started running a deep cross, before changing direction and heading outside. Adams caught it for a 25-yard gain to get the ball to midfield. Julian Love closed at the end of the play to strip it from Adams from behind. Love played a quality game in his first start at safety.

* The Packers had four key conversions on the drive. On a 3rd and 6, Rodgers looked for Adams and overthrew him, but Sam Beal was called for pass interference. Four plays later, the Packers faced a 4th and 10, but Geronimo Allison ran a crossing route over the middle for 15 yards. The Giants blitzed five, and Golden forced Rodgers to throw off his back foot, but it wasn’t enough. Three plays later on a 3rd and 2, Adams freed himself on a speed route for six yards and the first down.

After a defensive holding penalty gave the Packers a 1st and goal opportunity from the one, the Packers committed a holding penalty on an Aaron Jones touchdown run to back themselves up. Grant Haley tackled Aaron Jones for a three-yard loss on a screen pass to put the Packers into 3rd and 17. The Giants tried to substitute but Aaron Rodgers quick-snapped to catch them with 12 men on the field. Adams ran free down the seam for a touchdown.

* Up 24-13, the Packers started their next drive on the Giants 38-yard line after a Jones interception. The Packers started the drive with a false start penalty and a dropped pass by Adams. Despite being in 2nd and 15, the Packers completed a 10-yard pass to create a manageable 3rd and 5. Allison ran a quick out at the sticks to convert. Three plays later on 3rd and 9, Haley was called for defensive pass interference that put the ball at the two-yard line. After a first down run stop, Rodgers evaded a Lorenzo Carter sack to hit Lewis for a touchdown, which gave the Packers a 31-13 lead and all but sealed the victory. 

* The Giants rush defense was strong throughout the game. Packers running backs had only 21 carries for 59 yards, which is under three yards per carry. Both Jones and Williams had long runs of only nine yards. The defensive line and linebackers deserve credit for being very sound stopping what had been an effective Packers running game this season. 

* The Giants pass rush didn’t sack Rodgers and finished with only two quarterback hits. Leonard Williams was the most active pushing the pocket up the middle. Carter and Golden flashed on a couple of plays. According to PFF, the Giants did pressure Rodgers on 43.9% of his dropbacks, but he never seemed particularly bothered by it or thrown off kilter at all. According to PFF, the Giants blitzed 16 of their 41 pass rush snaps, which was the 8th highest rate in the NFL.

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