Commentary

Eli, Giants find less is more vs. Jags

Manning, Big Blue keep it simple in Sunday's late rally over Jacksonville

Updated: November 30, 2010, 4:53 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants were forced to scale down their offense a bit with so many players out due to injuries. And the plan worked, as Eli Manning threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead the Giants to a much-needed 24-20 win over the Jaguars on Sunday.

Manning hopes he will have some more help this week, but the Giants (7-4) can't count on that happening. Coach Tom Coughlin said Monday that there is nothing new with the status of several key injured players.

Tackle Shawn Andrews will not be able to play until his back shows more stability. Andrews was hospitalized last week with back pain, and his status for Sunday's game against the Redskins is up in the air.

"The way it worked a week ago was one day he felt good and the next day he didn't," Coughlin told reporters on a conference call. "So until there is some real concrete evidence that he can maneuver and that he is pain-free, there won't be a whole lot to say."

Coughlin also had nothing new on center Shaun O'Hara (foot), tackle David Diehl (hip/hamstring) and wide receiver Steve Smith (pectoral).

O'Hara has missed four straight games, and Diehl has been inactive the past three.

Smith has said that while he hopes to return this week, it could be a long shot. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks also is out another two weeks after undergoing a procedure to relieve swelling in his leg.

With his unit decimated by injuries, Manning said the Giants adjusted by going with less. The quarterback said the offense went with fewer three-wideout packages and more two-wide sets.

"We kind of kept it to a tight end, two receivers, a two-back stuff or two tight ends and two receivers and one back," Manning said. "We probably stayed in our base personnel a little bit more than normal. Just kind of had the guys in there who have been here for a couple of years who know the offense who we feel comfortable with."

That comfort level was displayed in the Giants' comeback. In the last 15 minutes, 39 seconds, Manning completed five passes to Kevin Boss and Mario Manningham. He did attempt incomplete passes to Derek Hagan and Michael Clayton, but when Manning needed a big play, the ball found Boss and Manningham.

Boss, who led the Giants in targets with eight, had three receptions for 74 yards and a 32-yard touchdown catch that was the game winner. All his catches came in the last 15:39 to help the Giants erase a 17-9 deficit.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
Al Bello/Getty ImagesEli Manning and the Giants caught fire in the final 15:39 against the Jaguars.

Manningham had three catches for 61 yards, but none was bigger than his 26-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth that was set up by two catches by Boss for 17 and 25 yards.

In a way, having less kind of made things simpler for Manning. The Giants quarterback watches endless film every week on opposing defenses, but he said that last week there were certain things he didn't have to focus on, such as how Jacksonville defends four-wide sets, since the Giants weren't going to use that alignment.

"In a sense, if you simplify your offense, you simplify your personnel, you simplify what the defense can do also," Manning said. "It's not that you are simplifying things; you just are not changing your personnel quite as much. You are putting your best players on the field, and that is what we want. I'm more comfortable with these guys than a guy that has been here for five days."

Manning now will have another week to get Clayton, who joined the team last week, more acclimated to the offense. And this will be Devin Thomas' first full week of practice with the Giants after the former second-round pick was awarded to the team off waivers late last week. This also will be Hagan's third week back with the team that cut him after training camp. Hagan was targeted four times and had two catches for 21 yards Sunday.

In addition, Manning mentioned tight end Travis Beckum quite a bit as an option to get more involved. Beckum had one catch for 29 yards against Jacksonville.

The quarterback also will likely rely more on a running game that was effective when used against Jacksonville. Brandon Jacobs, starting ahead of Ahmad Bradshaw, gained 87 yards on 14 carries and ran powerfully and without hesitation. Bradshaw gained 49 yards on nine carries.

"Both guys are physical," Coughlin said when asked what he liked with Jacobs as the starter. "We got some plays in for Danny Ware and we liked that very much, and so the combination of guys has proven again to be a good formula for us."

And the most important thing the Giants did in keeping things simple against Jacksonville was going back to the basics by protecting the football and not turning it over. The Giants, who have 30 turnovers so far in 2010, completed their first game without a turnover this season on Sunday.

If the Giants can keep holding on to the football, they have enough to win. And hopefully reinforcements will be back in a week or two to help Manning.

Game notes

Coughlin said the Giants made it out of Sunday's win relatively injury-free. Defensive back Brian Jackson broke his left hand and played in a splint, the coach said. Defensive end Dave Tollefson suffered a "little burner," and defensive back Aaron Ross had discomfort with "some of the intestinal issues that he had been having" last week. Ross was feeling ill last week but should be better this week.

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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