Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
There are teams that respond to rough patches by throwing the baby out with the bath water and there are those that stubbornly stick to what they think will work in the face of evidence that a change is necessary.
The Giants faced one of those rough patches headed into Sunday night's game against the Packers and they refused to go whole hog on either approach. Every part of the team was analyzed on its own merits and the team made calls on how to proceed based on evidence instead of some overarching philosophy.
On offense, faith in what had worked in the past was the answer. The results weren't spectacularly different from what we saw before the bye as there were poor decisions by Eli Manning, drops by receivers and other mistakes over the course of the evening.
The mistakes never cost them as the Packers dropped what should have been interceptions and the Giants running game meant they didn't have to put too much on Manning's plate. Give Tom Coughlin credit for knowing that the big picture was still positive for the offense and that only a fool would believe that something had suddenly changed with an offense that has generally been great over the last two seasons.
Such a fool would probably have said that the Giants just needed to keep things rolling the same way on defense as well, even though there's a much longer track record of issues on that side of the ball. Relying on the front four to create all the havoc for the defense simply has not worked this year and the team tried a lot of different things to confuse Aaron Rodgers over the course of the evening.
Four safety looks, corner blitzes and aggressive coverage on outside receivers were part of that new package and the result was the best Giants defensive effort we've seen since the Super Bowl. The Packers offense was humming when it rolled into the Meadowlands, but it took a smack in the mouth similar to the one the Giants took in Cincinnati before the break.
The Giants will now need to prove that they can come up with such effective game plans without two weeks to prepare for one team. Their ability to improvise and improve what's failing bodes well on that front.
Here's the rest of the good, bad and ugly from Sunday.
GOOD: Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown were very strong on Sunday night, exploiting every hole to gain chunks of yards behind an offensive line that kept opening them up. Bradshaw looked the best he's looked in weeks, raising some concern that it was a function of the time off but it's appreciated regardless of the reason.
BAD: Brown broke a bone in his leg late in the game, which will take some of the oomph out of the running game in the coming weeks unless David Wilson suddenly goes from the doghouse to the penthouse.
UGLY: The score was 7-7 in the first quarter when the Packers chose to try a 55-yard field goal with struggling kicker Mason Crosby on 4th-and-5 from the Giants' 37-yard line. Crosby predictably missed and the Giants had great field position, which makes you wonder why McCarthy didn't have the faith in his offense to just go for it if he was willing to let the Giants have the ball right there.
GOOD: Kenny Phillips' return to the lineup seemed to be an essential part of the changes the team put in place against Green Bay. Having Phillips as the last line of defense makes it much easier for Perry Fewell to mix and match looks up front, most notably the way fellow safety Antrel Rolle could focus only on the things he does well.
BAD: Phillips couldn't finish the game because of an issue in his knee. Should he be lost, the Giants defense will have to redefine itself once again.
UGLY: The Giants enjoyed some good luck when punt returner Rueben Randle fumbled two kicks without losing either one of them. It's a killer spot to make a turnover and the bounces won't always favor the Giants.
GOOD: Hakeem Nicks had a good game against the Bengals just before the bye and he looked almost all the way back on Sunday night. If he can keep winning battles on the outside, Victor Cruz should get more single coverage and the offensive problems will seem like a distant memory.