EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 6, 2012

Two-Minute Drill: Giants 21, Patriots 17


Quarterback (C) ... Again, I laud Tom Brady's courage. He was clearly banged up in this game. We all saw the vicious hit he took in the end zone late in the third. He wasn't right. But the pick intended for Gronkowski was one of the worst throws of his life. He had Gronk but was too late and paid the price.


Line (B-) ... The Giants ran for 4.4 yards a carry, but they did get to Eli Manning a few times. Vince Wilfork, Gerard Warren, Brandon Deaderick and Mark Anderson (1.5 sacks) all had big plays inside.

Linebackers (B-) ... Again, the impact by Brandon Spikes was encouraging. Rob Ninkovich had an excuse-me half-sack. Time to recalibrate the expectations on Jerod Mayo. He's not a Pro Bowl linebacker and won't be. He's a notch below a Roman Phifer, the definition of solid but not spectacular.

Secondary (C) ... Eli Manning threw for 296 yards. He was 30 of 40 overall and 10 of 14 in the fourth. So guys were open. The tackling was solid. Patrick Chung made one big hit.

Coaching (D) ... The Giants won most of the battles, and therefore took the war. The Pats were slow on their substitute packages and at times seemed confused. And down the stretch, Bill Belichick melted or at least slipped to above average.

Special Teams (C ) ... This team is in severe need of speed in the return game. Zoltan Mesko punted fine (41.0) and Stephen Gostkowski was fine, but there has to be more from the return game.

The turning point

Despite the many mistakes, the missed assignments, etc., the Pats could have locked this one away if Wes Welker catches Tom Brady's pass inside the 20 in the fourth quarter.

That drop opened the door, which Eli Manning and the Giants kicked in to steal a victory.

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