It was a double flashback for the Giants on Sunday night. Eli Manning got a reminder of what it was like getting his butt kicked in sports by his big brother and the rest of the team got a 2009 flashback a week after it seemed they had turned the page for good.
The Giants were never really in the 38-14 loss. The Colts stormed down the field on their opening drive, using the no-huddle to make sure the Giants were stuck with the wrong personnel group on the field until Donald Brown ran for a touchdown. They'd repeat that blueprint over and over again as the Giants played right into Peyton Manning's hands by using a scheme with three defensive ends and six defensive backs that was designed to stop the pass. They couldn't man up and stop the run, however, and Manning called more of them in the first half than in any other game in his career. The result was a 24-0 halftime lead and plenty of reason to flip over to HBO for the premiere of "Boardwalk Empire."
Eli didn't have such an option because he was too busy worrying about his health. The Giants were totally unable to stop the Colts pass rush, which led to three sacks, a pair of fumbles and some memories of getting noogied by Peyton until Mom broke things up as a wee tot. The fearsome Colts defensive end duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis dominated Giants tackles David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie so thoroughly that you began to wonder if Eli shouldn't get pulled just for his own well being.
Freeney and Mathis are good, but the Giants coaches didn't do much to try and counteract their abilities. A week after the Colts were gashed for 257 yards on the ground, the Giants chose not to attack them on the ground and played right into Indy's strengths. It was a bizarre choice, especially once you realized that Ahmad Bradshaw was having some success when given the opportunity.
The most damning part of the night is the way the Giants failed to respond once they got smacked in the mouth by the Colts. The first half was just one miscue after the other and the team seemed powerless to stop the tide. It looked like halftime might have done the trick when Eli hit Mario Manningham for a long touchdown early in the third quarter, but things reverted to ugly before much longer. It felt exactly like last year's lowest moments and that's worth worrying about this week.
As if the embarrassment on the field won't lead to enough questions, the Giants will also have to deal with the fallout from Brandon Jacobs's decision to fling his helmet into the stands after being pulled from the game for continuing to be a completely useless part of the offense. While the Giants might actually welcome seeing something explosive come from his empty shell of a uniform, Jacobs crossed a big line and should probably be suspended for at least a game as a result of his behavior. It's no loss for the Giants as only reporters and fans seem to be capable of getting Jacobs to show any fire whatsoever.
While a suspension might help the Giants rid themselves of Jacobs once and for all, they'll need a bit more help to figure out the problems on the offensive line. It's abundantly clear now why the Giants were so interested in replacing Diehl with William Beatty during the offseason and awfully scary to think that Beatty is actually a worse player than the one who puts Manning's life at risk on every snap. You can bet that every team on the Giants schedule will be following the Colts game plan of relentlessly attacking Diehl off the edge.
You can't get too low off one loss, just as no one should have been too high after beating the Panthers, but there are some real problems that need solutions with this team. Whether those solutions exist remains to be seen, but at least Tom Coughlin can offer the Colts some thanks for pointing out the weaknesses.