Commentary

Giants suffer Manning Bowl II beatdown

Eli's second showdown with brother Peyton ends in ugly, lopsided loss for Big Blue

Updated: September 20, 2010, 2:57 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Long after Manning Bowl II came to a merciful ending and the Colts stopped pouring it on the Giants, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning stood in a hallway outside the Giants locker room sharing a private conversation.

When the two were done, the brothers embraced and big brother patted little brother on the rear a couple of times.

If only Peyton and the Colts were that gentle with the Giants' defense.

Manning versus Manning was kind of like most sequels -- overhyped and nowhere near as good as the original. At least the Giants were competitive the last time they saw the Colts. On Sunday night before a national television audience, the Colts destroyed the Giants, 38-14, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

[+] EnlargeEli & Peyton Manning
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesEli Manning can't stand up to his big brother Peyton in Indy's 38-14 rout Sunday night.

And Peyton barely broke a sweat. He completed 20 of 26 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns. But the damage was done early by the Colts' alleged weak link -- the running game. Joseph Addai and Donald Brown combined for 161 yards rushing.

After holding DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to 74 combined yards in their season-opening victory over the Panthers, the Giants' defense couldn't stop a team that ran the ball just 10 times the week before.

"I think we were all surprised that they were able to run and run with consistency and that pretty much allowed them to do what they wanted to do," said a humbled Tom Coughlin.

So much for defensive players saying their first priority is to stop the run. Perry Fewell's wrinkle to start the game was to come out with one linebacker and six defensive backs. He played three safeties and three corners with Michael Boley at linebacker often in the first half.

The Giants expected so much passing that they opted to keep just two true defensive tackles active for the game in Chris Canty and Barry Cofield. The Giants wanted their pass-rushers out there to combat Peyton. What they got was a heavy dose of running.

Addai put up 80 yards rushing and Brown added 44 before halftime. With the run established, Peyton used play-action and got safety Michael Johnson, who was in for Kenny Phillips for a short time, to bite. That left Dallas Clark open for a 50-yard touchdown catch over Aaron Ross in the second quarter.

"We had a couple of different combinations where we had pass cover looks where [safety Deon] Grant was down as a linebacker," Coughlin said when asked if he wanted to go back to a more traditional look with three linebackers instead of sticking with so many defensive backs in the game. "That is all fine and dandy. We could have stayed out there in base and they would have thrown the ball. We can go ahead and blame ourselves for that one but I really don't think that was the difference."

The Colts were up 14-0 early in the second but it felt much bigger than that. Offensively, the Giants tried hard to get their running game going. After seeing Houston's Arian Foster stomp all over the Colts for 231 yards and three touchdowns the week before, the Giants tried using backup center Adam Koets at tight end to provide more blocking with Kevin Boss out with a concussion.

Ahmad Bradshaw gained a respectable 89 yards but the running game was largely ineffective. The Giants' offense gained just 69 total yards in the first half. Indy had 278 and a 24-0 lead at halftime.

Giving Peyton Manning a 24-0 lead is the equivalent of taking Nyquil and calling it a night. The Giants were knocked out.

"That team is built to play with a lead," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "We didn't give ourselves any breaks."

Eli temporarily helped the Giants save some face when he connected on a 54-yard bomb to Mario Manningham to start the third quarter to get the Giants within 24-7.

But the Colts' pass rush overwhelmed the Giants' offensive line. Dwight Freeney, who gave David Diehl fits most of the night, sacked Eli and forced a fumble that was recovered by Fili Moala for a 1-yard touchdown.

Game over. Eli was sacked four times and hit six times and was under constant pressure most of the night before finishing with 161 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The running game failed to post a 100-yard rusher again and frustration boiled over when Brandon Jacobs meant to throw his helmet at the bench on the sideline and accidentally sent it flying into the stands.

Jacobs apologized repeatedly for the helmet-throwing incident. The Giants also seemed ready to apologize for their no-show.

Now the Giants have a week to figure out how to stop the best running back in the NFL in Tennessee's Chris Johnson.

"Back to the drawing board," Tuck said. "We pretty much had our way with one of the best running games in the league [last week] and coming here tonight, we didn't come to play against the run today. This is a humbling game. We got to come in and take our medicine [Monday] and get on with Tennessee."

When Eli came off the field, he was greeted by his mother and father. Olivia Manning gave her son a kiss and a soft pat on the cheek.

Thankfully, Manning Bowl II was over for Eli.

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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