Dave Klein was the Giants' beat
writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books
and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls.
Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.
MISTAKES ALWAYS HAPPEN,
AND IT'S POINTLESS TO TRY TO FIND ONE PLAYER AT FAULT
By Dave Klein
Once upon a time, a guy who was the head coach
of the Giants (no, not Ben McAdoo; and no, not Tom Coughlin) explained that every
action in a game is the result of several incidents.
In other words, an interception is not the quarterback's fault entirely, nor is
a fumble the direct result of the ball carrier. A quarterback might be expecting
a receiver to turn to his right and he turned to his left. A running back might
have the ball jolted from his arms by a helmet worn by a defender who appeared
"out of nowhere." An offensive lineman might miss a pass-rushing defender and
get the quarterback sacked, but someone else should have been there to pick him
So on Sunday, when the Giants held
on to beat the Chicago Bears, 22-16, placekicker Robbie Gould missed two simple
extra points. The snap was good, the hold was good, Gould's approach and follow-through
were good. But there was an ever-changing wind gusting through the stadium. It
moved the ball.
The Giants thus missed
two point-after attempts, and had they been made the score would have been 24-16
- and isn't it odd that the "official" point-spread was 7½?
And yet, holding this tenuous six-point lead, the game not nearly safe from a
big passer such as the Bears' Jay Cutler, McAdoo went into a shell. He did the
play-calling, of course, and it was both tentative and conservative.
The Giants managed one first down in the fourth quarter, on a 12-yard run by Rashad
Jennings (who had 85 yards in 21 carries for the day and now has 340 yards in
100 carries for the season - and he's the team leader).
In all, the Giants ran off 14 plays in the fourth quarter, not counting the four
punts and the one "kneel down" Eli Manning used to kill the clock at the end.
Of those 14 plays, five were passes and only one was complete (six yards to wide
receiver Odell Beckham for on third-and-seven). The 14 plays gained 33 yards.
It was conservatism raised to new heights, and yet the Giants pulled it off and
improved their record to 7-3 and their winning streak to five games.
McAdoo would only admit that he thought the offense was "pressing" on those final
five offensive series, meaning technique errors. "We need to do what we are supposed
to do," he said, "when we are supposed to do them. And we need to do them as well
as we possibly can, all the time. We have to be on the same page."
But when asked Monday if he felt the play calling in the fourth quarter was a
little too conservative, he said, flat-out: "No."
When pressed to expand on that answer, he added: "I thought we were running the
ball well physically. I thought we had some opportunities to convert [third down
situations]. I am fine with the way the game was called."
There was only one first down recorded in the final quarter, on the 12-yard run
by Jennings. But this is not productive - the team did win, after all, and alleged
miscalculations blew away faster than the wind took care of Gould's kicks.
The game ended, finally, on an interception by strong safety Landon Collins with
0:50 remaining, who cut in front of the intended receiver, Marquess Wilson, on
the Giants' 24 at the sideline. It was his fifth pick (all in the last four games)
and it went along with six tackles (all solo) and three passes defended.
If he isn't heading to the Pro Bowl, no one else is going, either. Would McAdoo
say the second-year player is at an all-pro level? "I can't really speak for Landon,"
he said. "I think he's playing at a high level and teams that we see ... I don't
get a chance to watch every [safety] in the league so I don't have an opinion
on whether he's playing at an all-pro level, but I know he's at a high level for
But the coach did admit that Collins
"is playing at a high level for us, he's a young player, he's still growing and
he's preparing well. He's very productive."
McAdoo insists the Giants "haven't accomplished anything yet," despite winning
seven of their first 10 games. "Seven wins doesn't get you very far," he said.
"We need to keep stacking successes."
Rookie WR Roger Lewis (concussion protocol) and center-guard Brett Jones (knee)
may or may not play Sunday in Cleveland (careful, the Browns are 0-10) and McAdoo
wasn't even sure whether they will practice on Wednesday. ... As to starting left
guard Justin Pugh, the coach said it was "way too early to tell." ... Pugh has been
out the last two games with a knee injury.
The Giants' last five-game winning streak was in 2010, their last six-game streak
was in 2007 and their last seven-game run came in 2008.
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