For three quarters, the New York Giants were able to hang on and even lead against the Seattle Seahawks. But their run defense crumbled, Marshawn Lynch bulldozed, Russell Wilson stopped passing and it ended in a 38-17 win for the Super Bowl Champions, a slightly misleading ending but damaging nonetheless.
Why damaging? Because at 3-6 with four consecutive losses, the Giants are probably out of the playoff race. There was talk of a team that is different this season, complete. Of a changed Eli Manning, of a revamped offensive line, of a running game that works and a defense that’s no longer injured and ready to be difficult and nagging once again. In reality, most of these promises have been broken and scattered across the rocks, hardly showing any sign of progress as they head towards a third straight season of missing the playoffs.
The Seattle Seahawks are a championship team with confidence problems. You can see it by the way Russell Wilson is struggling inside and outside the pocket when he tries to throw the ball, completing 10-of-17 passes, intercepted twice. It can be seen by the way this secondary has been exposed by various receivers and quarterbacks this season. Richard Sherman has less and less to back up his words with. And yet for the most part, they keep on winning.
The offensive line might be bad at blocking for a quarterback, but the Seahawks can still run the ball like a college football team. They rushed for 350 yards in the win over the Giants, the most by an NFL team since the Chiefs ran for 352 in 2012. Marshawn Lynch gained 140 yards, scoring four touchdowns. Wilson ran for a touchdown himself and 107 yards on 14 carries. Christine Michael added 71 yards, averaging 17.8 per carry. They were in a jam and behind a number of times in the game, but simply running the ball kept saving them and eventually won them the game.
The Giants only totaled 324 yards in the entire game, with Eli Manning throwing for 283 yards but also one interception. The Seahawks gained four yards per rush after contact, the best any team has been able to do all season long. They ran for 111 yards on zone reads, their most since week 17 of 2012. The Giants haven’t allowed so many rushing yards since the 1978 season when they gave up 366 yards to the Buffalo Bills.
The project to make Eli Manning a more accurate passer looked fine at first, but it’s been crashing and burning the last few weeks. He’s not patient, he doesn’t have a lot of time to make the right throws and Manning simply isn’t a West Coast type of guy, or doesn’t have the right environment to change into one. Completing 62.9% of his passes isn’t bad, but it’s nowhere close where he and his offensive coordinator were hoping he’d be by now.
The Seahawks keep the chase after the Cardinals alive and well. The offense is shaky, so Pete Carroll did what a lot of CFB teams do: Forget about throwing, and simply run until there’s nothing left but dust of the defense, having the tools to do it. It won’t work every game, but it can against the Giants, who might still have a theoretical chance of making the playoffs, but it’s hard to believe that such an inferior team can be part of the postseason.