|Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is pressured by New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) during the third quarter of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium. (US Presswire)|
Whatever the 7-4 Giants were doing wrong on the football field -- and it was seemingly everything over their recent 2-2 stretch that ended with consecutive losses -- Sunday's win over the Packers proved they're still playing for a championship this season.
New York out-possessed, outgained and outscored Green Bay; and beyond a lapse in coverage by CB Corey Webster and a fumbled punt by rookie WR Rueben Randle, coach Tom Coughlin's team was bordering on “perfect" in all three phases.
The win came at a cost, however. RB Andre Brown -- the Giants' short-yardage specialist and goal-line threat -- broke his fibula and was placed on short-term IR. The only way he'd be allowed to return this season is if the Giants made it to the Super Bowl.
But after Sunday's win, that seems much more possible.
The Giants converted 50 percent of their third-down opportunities, which is a dramatic improvement from recent weeks. They ran the ball well (147 yards on 31 carries), were effective in the passing game (QB Eli Manning completed 16 of 30 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns) and they didn't commit a single turnover.
Even in a game in which RT David Diehl left with a burner and was replaced by OT Sean Locklear, Manning was only sacked once.
It wasn't perfect and the Giants have yet to post the same gaudy numbers they had in wins over the Buccaneers and Panthers, but they were efficient, and that's been the larger issues overt the last four games. Previous game's grade: D
The defense returned to its three-safety look with impressive results. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was picked off by Webster, who was atoning for a mistake on an earlier touchdown pass, and the NFL's reigning MVP finished with just 14 completions for a total of 219 yards.
The Giants weren't perfect against the run (116 yards on 26 carries for the Packers), but a lot of that had to do with three scrambles by Rodgers, which ended up totaling 22 yards.
The Giants' five sacks were largely a product of the early lead (the Giants are used to facing three step drops until an opponent is forced to pass for larger gains) but they did generate consistent pressure, which was a positive. Previous game's grade: C-
Special teams: C+
K Lawrence Tynes continues to succeed (he hit a 43-yard field goal on Sunday, his only attempt) and P Steve Weatherford was effective, but Randle's muffed punt is a concern. He dropped several punts in practice this week, after not having any issues in that department over the earlier portion of the season. Previous game's grade: D
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell had the advantage of being able to reintroduce the three-safety formation with S Kenny Phillips' return. The Giants hadn't really been using it this season, but after S Stevie Brown emerged, it became obvious that they had the personnel. And it didn't hurt that the Packers weren't provided with a lot of game film to study the formation.
The good news for the Giants is that Fewell used that advantage. He was able to mix up run blitzes and different coverages while allowing his defense line to get to the quarterback.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's unit took smaller bites on Sunday. Manning and Co. were able to hang on to the football and weren't pressed into gunning downfield. So even though there weren't a lot of big plays, the offensive still took a step in the right direction.
Coughlin admitted that the timeout before halftime was “foolish” and his own mistake. He told the ref that he wanted a timeout before the Packers' final play of the second quarter. But instead getting the stop, the defense yielded a first down, so the timeout gave the Packers another chance to score. They didn't, but it was a mistake, nonetheless. Previous game's grade: D
Follow the Giants and Alex Raskin @CBSGiants and @AlexRaskinNYC.