Let’s talk Super Bowl XLVI. My game notes, analysis, plus a look at the Xs and Os from the Giants 21-17 win over the Patriots in Indy.
The play you should be talking about on Monday…
Eli Manning to Mario Manningham: Break this down from the coverage aspect before we get to the “bucket” throw and the finish from the Giants’ WR. The Pats were showing 2-deep safeties (Cover 2). CB Sterling Moore is going to play with inside leverage which gives Manningham a clean, outside release on the 9 (fade) route. However, looking at the replay, Manning is able to hold safety Patrick Chung on top of his landmark (top of the numbers). That’s key when you want to fit in the fade route vs. a deep half safety. The rest? Ideal throw and a teaching session on how to drag your feet, secure the ball and make the play. In terms of making a crucial play on the Super Bowl stage, it doesn’t get any bigger than that.
Three things that stand out…
ICONManning played like a top tier talent at QB in the game winning drive for the Giants.
1. Manning’s final drive: We already broke down the deep shot to Manningham, but don’t forget about the QB’s ability to work inside breaking routes, recognize blitz-looks before the snap and identify his hot reads vs. off-man coverage. Manning (30-40-296-1 TD) had complete control of the offense and it showed in his confident play when his team needed him to go win another ring.
2. The Brady/ Welker missed opportunity: Have to make this play when the Giants basically bust a coverage in the secondary. A straight seam route up the numbers. Easy to say that Welker has to come up with that ball (which he usually does), and we can also look at the throw from Brady if we want to go deeper into the play. Regardless, Brady and Welker connect there and the Pats can close out the Super Bowl. That's the story.
3. Justin Tuck’s production: The Giants’ front four rush was a topic of discussion all week in Super Bowl XLVI breakdowns, because it allows the secondary to play coverage with either deep middle of the field help or a two deep half safeties. With Tuck, the Giants got two sacks (one coming on the game’s final drive) and three hits on the QB. And let’s not forget that it was Tuck that forced Brady to unload the ball in his own end zone that led to the safety early in the first quarter on the intentional grounding call. What we should expect from a veteran talent.
More game notes…
-The Patriots made the right decision to concede a TD to Ahmad Bradshaw late in the 4th quarter to save Brady some time, but watching the Giants’ RB fall into the end zone? I can’t blame him. Easy to tell a player one thing on the sideline and then look on as their natural instincts take over on the field.
– Hakeem Nicks on inside breaking cuts. Look at the slant, the dig, curl, etc. If you didn’t think that Nicks (10-109) was a true No.1 WR outside of the numbers, tonight should have changed your mind. Length, speed and size when he puts a CB in a “trail position” and works back to the middle of the field.
ICONThe Patriots has the right game plan to limit Cruz, but the Giants' WR still produced a TD in the red zone.
– Victor Cruz. I liked the game plan vs. the Giants' WR. Give a lot of credit here to Patriots’ CB Kyle Arrington for challenging Cruz at the line of scrimmage and being physical with his hands. And also look at the schemes in the secondary. New England used some “bracket” coverages inside of the numbers vs. Cruz and also played a “triangle” technique (3-on-2) to beat the Giants’ stack releases. However, Cruz still produced a TD when he won on the inside release running the slant route inside the 5-yard line.
– The non-P.I. call on Moore in the 4th quarter? Like seeing the ref eat the flag in that situation because the Pats’ CB played the ball. No question Moore got there early with the off-hand on the shoulder of Manningham running the deep curl, but that was pretty solid technique from my perspective.
– Gronkowski (2-26) was a non-factor outside of the seam route he caught off of play action (counter protection) when Brady forced the LBs to step to the line of scrimmage. He couldn’t drive off that ankle and that impacted the Patriots’ playbook when you take away the deep inside dig route that Gronkowski won vs. safeties all season long.
– I couldn’t figure out why the Giants wanted to matchup LBs to TE Aaron Hernandez and RB Danny Woodhead. All I saw were simple “option” routes where both Hernandez and Woodhead could work away from the defender’s leverage and give Brady easy targets.
– Hard to find a better athlete than Jason Pierre-Paul. Don’t know what else to say here, because when you turn on the tape his speed and overall length at the line of scrimmage is impressive. And when you add in Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, there is a reason this Giants' D-Line is talked about as the top unit in the league. So much talent there.
– The Chase Blackburn INT. We can say that Gronkowski’s ankle impacted the play at the point of attack, but I’m putting that one on Brady. That’s an underthrown pass down the middle of the field. Love the effort from Blackburn to go find the ball and make the play.
– The Giants were able to run the ball early with production because they could win on the double-team up front, lead up with the FB and get to the second level on the base Lead Open and Lead Strong. Can’t count on your safeties to fill in the run game when they align in a Cover 2 look.
– Brandon Spikes played with speed and was violent on contact. I thought the Pats’ LB (11 total tackles) consistently showed up around the football and finished like a pro.
– The punting of Steve Weatherford. The Giants' punter put the ball inside the 10-yard line three times. That's called execution.
My Super Bowl XLVI MVP is…
Eli Manning. I could make a case for Tuck, but given the game situation and Manning’s ability to generate another scoring drive on the Super Bowl stage, I have to give it to the Giants’ QB. As for his legacy? He has two rings…
Great game. Great season.
On to the NFL scouting combine in two and a half weeks…
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