Everyone knows that NFL teams watch film in the week leading up to their games, but on Sunday the Lions gave an object lesson in how we can't be sure that the teams are gleaning the right information.
The Lions played like they watched hours of tape from the Giants' embarrassing loss to the Titans in Week Three and took it as a blueprint on how to play the game of football. They committed one brutal penalty after another, turned the ball over twice, dropped several passes and generally did everything they could to hand over a winnable football game. The only problem was that the Giants, unlike the Titans, did everything they could to refuse the gift.
There weren't a ton of flags or turnovers from the home team nor did they play particularly badly, but it was hard to walk away from their 28-20 victory without feeling that it should have been a much bigger win. The Lions had the ball and a chance to tie in the final minute of the game even though they were playing with third-string quarterback Drew Stanton and had made all of the miscues mentioned above. Antrel Rolle picked off a pass in Giants territory, though, and the Giants walked off with a third straight victory.
All day long it felt like the floodgates were going to open and allow the Giants to run away with the game, but time and again the team failed to grab the bull by the horns. The biggest culprits for that would be whoever decided it was a wise idea to keep throwing the ball up two scores in the second half and whoever decided that the team's special teams don't need to be fixed. Tom Coughlin comes to mind in both cases, although Kevin Gilbride and, assuming he wasn't locked into running what was called, Eli Manning deserve blame for the former.
As for the latter, it's really become ridiculous. Matt Dodge dropped another ball while trying to punt it and the thought that he'll have a chance to do it a third time should boil the blood of any Giants fan. The Giants also allowed Stefan Logan to return a kickoff 58 yards after going ahead 28-17 in the fourth, but Coughlin won't have to deal with any fans giving him grief about it.
After years of selling uberexpensive personal seat licenses with the promise that buyers would get a live view of Coughlin's post-game press conferences, the Giants decided this weekend that they were just kidding. The press conferences will move and be replaced by some kind of postgame TV show. We're curious to see if any of those fans who were duped into spending five figures for the right to buy football tickets decide to exercise their litigious side at the bait-and-switch pulled off by Big Blue.
That's a lot of negativity for another winning Sunday, but that's life when the expectations have been raised the way the Giants raised them the last two weeks. Let's turn things back around, though. Ahmad Bradshaw continues to impress everyone but Coughlin with his ability running the ball. He rolled up 133 yards on the ground but got pulled every time the team got close to the goal line in favor of Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs scored twice but got stuffed on a third attempt, and you wonder just what Bradshaw did to earn so much enmity from his head coach.
Maybe he should throw his helmet at some fans to get on Coughlin's good side?
The defense gave up too much yardage through the air, but completely shut down the Lions running game. They also claimed their third quarterback of the season when Shaun Hill left with a broken forearm. Osi Umenyiora also picked up another sack in what's fast becoming a bid for Comeback Player of the Year after his 2008 was ruined by injury and his 2009 was ruined by pouting and indifferent play.
That was enough to get a win and you never look down your nose too much at one of those. Perhaps this was just a case of overlooking an underpowered opponent and things will be back in gear when they go to Dallas next weekend. They'd better be, because even the lackluster Cowboys will be less forgiving than the Lions were on Sunday.