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The Trans-Atlantic Sports Romantic! - by TheMach

Welcome To The Jungle - Giants 13 - 31 Bengals

November 12th 2012 02:23

New York Giants 13 - 31 Cincinnati Bengals

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati OH, 11/11/12

One of these teams was riding high atop their division, two games up on their nearest challengers whilst another was languishing in 3rd place, 3-5 with a mountain to climb to catch two regular playoff attendees...

One of these teams was the defending Super Bowl Champion whilst the other was an unlikely wild card that fell at the first hurdle in last years playoffs...

One of these teams featured a two-time Super Bowl MVP at quarterback whilst the other was in the hands of an inexperienced 2nd season pro still very much finding his feet...

At the conclusion of the game on Sunday evening you could be forgiven for confusing which team was which.

Indeed it was the New York Giants that were on the positive side of those statistical match-ups and despite their mistake ridden showing in week 9 against the Steelers all signs pointed towards victory as they looked to even the score with the AFC North against a Bengal team that has 0-4 in it's last 4 games.

As is the footballing way the NFL churned out another result that went against the grain as the New York Giants turned in arguably their worst performance of the season as they were out-gunned in all aspects by a far superior Cincinnati Bengal outfit. The G-Men have been getting gradually worse since their last convincing victory in week 6, adhering to the mantra that when they are good they are really good but when they are bad, they are awful.

The 6-3 New York Giants found out that it really was a jungle out there as they waded through the mire and got lost in the trees, fading into the abyss at Paul Brown stadium on Sunday afternoon. Eli Manning served up his third consecutive weak performance as the man who nobody could argue wasn't elite after his finale to the 2011 season, is showing signs of strain and fatigue. His fantasy owners were left disappointed once more as he struggled to a grand total of just 2.70 points to go with his two most recent dismal efforts of 3.00 and 5.98; of course the world does not revolve around fantasy football but it remains a solid indicator of a players form and just as Giants fans thought their quarterback was one reliable constant for the season, Eli dipped into his old habits serving up two interceptions and a fumble which killed any shred of momentum the Giants were building.

In stark contrast was Bengals trigger man Andy Dalton. One of the surprise contenders for rookie of the year in 2011, Dalton status continues to grow no more so than in a contest where he amassed 199 yards and a massive 4 touchdowns. Dalton also poignantly threw 0 picks and had 0 fumbles, a statement which becomes even greater considering he was lining up opposite a such an accomplished player in his position.

As was previously mentioned, the New York Giants were let down on all fronts today, Eli was not the only big-name to continue his recent struggles with a nondescript outing. Victor Cruz was shown up a treat by A.J Green on the receiving corps; Cruz totaled just 26 yards in his 2nd least productive outing of the season so far and much like his quarterback has seen his performances significantly dip in the past 3 weeks with other contributions of 23 and 67 yards each without a touchdown. Those in his defence will argue that he was only targeted 4 times and completed 3 of those receptions however, the one Cruz dropped was a perfectly thrown ball with an open field in front of him that should have led to a momentum shifting touchdown. Then of course there was Green who found himself in acres of space, further exposing the Giants battered secondary on the opening drive for a 56 yard touchdown catch on his way to 85 yards and a score on the game. The second year pro now has at least one touchdown catch in all but one of the Bengals games this season and is on track to lead the league in yards and receptions, throwing more weight behind his ever improving cause.

The Giants defense came up with their biggest performance of the season two weeks ago in Dallas with sacks, interceptions and forced fumbles a plenty. This is another key aspect of that end of season march into and through the playoffs that has been unrecognisable in 2012 so far. It's no secret that their secondary is not healthy having suffered injuries to multiple starting personnel; this continues to be exploited by the oppositions passing attack as well as inexcusably failing to cover a receiver of Green's ability they are missing tackles and blowing coverages left, right and centre none more evident in this game than Jayron Hosley's weak attempt on Andrew Hawkins which results in the Bengals' second touchdown in as many drives.
One of the most credited aspects of their upturn in fortunes last season was the return of the full strength defensive front 7 late in the season. The sight of Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre Paul lined up alongside Chris Canty and Osi Umenyiora has flustered many a top quarterback in recent seasons but their production is also wavering - the Giants didn't record a single sack on Andy Dalton this evening as the Bengals O-line dominated in a turnover-free performance.

Ahmad Bradshaw is the recipient of continued faith from his coach Tom Coughlin although his inconsistency and his failure to step up to the mark when the Giants need him most must be trying the patience of the paying Big Blue public. After being ultimately shown up by his replacement for 1 and a half games Andre Brown, it appeared to motivate Bradshaw who determined to repay his coach's faith to return him to starter churned out back to back stellar performances of 200 yards and a touchdown against the Browns before becoming the first visiting player to rush for over 100 yards in an Francisco in over 3 seasons. A pattern is emerging here as Bradshaw is another Giant coming off the back of three consecutive fruitless outings. Prior to this 57 yard and one fumble outing, Ahmad has produced figures of 78 yards and one fumble and 48 yards each without a touchdown score. You have to wonder how much longer it will be before Coach Coughlin bites the bullet and turns to Andre Brown for a different dimension on the ground. Brown who shone in Bradshaw's absence came on half way through against the Bucs in week 2 and amassed 71 yards and touchdown and took the reigns the week after in Carolina with 113 yards and 2 touchdowns in an epic performance in his only game as a starter. Brown has the qualities of both Bradshaw and previous New York legend Brandon Jacobs in that he is deceptively fleet footed but is at his best running north to south with a smashmouth style - something the Giants crave in an altogether feeble offense recently. The backup running back who was behind rookie David Wilson at the start of the season salvaged a little pride with the only Giants touchdown against the Bengals, his final figures of 65 yards and touchdown make it four touchdown runs in as many weeks as he continues to knock at Bradshaw's door.

The bye week could not come soon enough for the Giants who have looked increasingly sluggish and devoid of ideas in recent weeks. Tom Coughlin has much to ponder ahead of what is a daunting final 6 game schedule which includes the improving Saints, as well as playoff contending Packers and Ravens. Hakeem Nicks looks the most reliable offensive option although his fitness is always a doubt, tight end Martellus Bennett who exploded onto the scene with a touchdown in each of his three games is without one since and there are too many star players on both sides of the ball seemingly going through the motions. You should never count the Giants or Coughlin out, that much we learned from last year and this free week needs to be used effectively to reignite the spark in this team. The one obvious positive is that they still have the advantage in their division with little being offered in the way of competition from the other three teams in the NFC East so a playoff run is still very likely even with the difficult fixture list, but a dominant 6-2 has become an ominous 6-4 in the space of 2 weeks and the rot must be stopped quickly if the Giants are to save themselves from fading into obscurity come the 30th December and the season finale.

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