A Little Brother Learns a Lesson as the Giants Sputter to 0-2

Suzy Allman for The New York Times

Giants Replay: Week 2: The Broncos used a balanced attack as the Giants’ offense sputtered in the third meeting of the Manning quarterbacks.

September 15, 2013
 

A Little Brother Learns a Lesson as the Giants Sputter to 0-2

 

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It was billed as the Manning Bowl, and halfway through the game, it was a mostly even, if desultory, duel between the quarterbacking brothers, Eli and Peyton.

But as was the case in their two previous N.F.L. meetings, Peyton had the superior weapons and comrades in arms. And by the second half, the Manning matchup ceased to be a fair fight.

As Peyton quickly and efficiently ran a multifaceted, balanced and diverse Denver offense, Eli was left to resuscitate a one-dimensional, dysfunctional and doomed Giants attack. In the end, the undefeated Broncos, with considerable help from their quarterback, routed the winless Giants, whose quarterback was one of many on the home side enduring a difficult game.

With 31 second-half points Sunday, Denver (2-0) turned a 1-point game into a rout, running away with a 41-23 victory that dropped the Giants to 0-2.

Statistically, Peyton also won the individual battle with his younger brother, throwing for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns without an interception. Eli had one largely meaningless touchdown pass late in the game and threw four interceptions.

“It was tough and not what we planned,” Eli Manning said. “In the first half, we had good opportunities but kept settling for field goals. In the second half, we got down by a couple of touchdowns and started pressing. Some things got away from us.”

Peyton Manning said he was relieved that the head-to-head clashes with his brother were probably over. Although the Broncos and the Giants could meet in the Super Bowl, they are not scheduled to meet again in the regular season until 2017.

“I think both of us are glad it’s over with,” Peyton said. “Postseason is one thing, but I don’t think I’ll make it to the next regular-season one, so I think this will be the end of it. I’ll be happy about that.”

For the Giants, irregular play at quarterback was one of many problems, and certainly not the most disconcerting. For the second consecutive game, the Giants’ running game was fruitless and feeble. Last week, the Giants brought back the bruising veteran Brandon Jacobs, hoping his heft and experience could revive a once-vaunted running attack.

But Jacobs ran for 4 yards on seven carries. The starting running back David Wilson, the goat of last week’s loss at Dallas because of two fumbles, kept his hands on the ball, but he ran for only 17 yards on seven carries. Altogether, the Giants had 23 rushing yards, after gaining just 50 the week before.

“To not be able to run the ball and to have so few running attempts, it’s just not our style,” Coach Tom Coughlin said.

Asked if the fault was with the running backs or the offensive line, Coughlin spared neither.

“We’re not running through many arms, and we don’t have a clear path,” he said. “We’re certainly not knocking them back off the ball.”

Defensively, the Giants have given up 77 points in two games. The Broncos had more than 400 yards of offense, 109 of it on the ground, and the Giants’ defense forced only one turnover, a fumble on the game’s first possession.

The Denver second-half blitz was spurred by halftime adjustments in the Broncos’ run blocking that unleashed Knowshon Moreno, who had 93 yards on 13 carries.

“In the first half, we were stopping the run and putting the onus on Peyton to beat us,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said.

The Giants limited the Denver rushers to 34 yards in the first half and trailed, 10-9. “But then in the second half, they started being able to run and pass, and that was backbreaking,” Tuck said. “You can’t let Peyton have it both ways — pass and run.”

While the Broncos were growing more varied, the Giants were all but giving up on the run. Passing plays on nearly every down allowed the Denver defensive front to rush Eli Manning, unbridled by worries about Giants rushers. And the Broncos’ secondary could get into a ball-hawking mentality. The result was one-sided.

“We’ve got to get more balanced on offense,” Giants guard Chris Snee said. “We’ve got to run the ball. It’s that simple.”

Denver began the second half on the march as Peyton Manning, who completed 30 of 43 passes, led a nine-play, 53-yard drive that culminated with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker. The Broncos’ offense, operating without a huddle, moved quickly and fluidly through a backpedaling and increasingly befuddled Giants defense.

Peyton Manning frequently added to the confusion. On the touchdown pass, Manning faked to a running back and deftly flipped the ball over drawn-in linebackers to a wide-open Welker in the end zone. That gave the Broncos a 17-9 lead.

On the succeeding possession, a series of passes from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, who had another strong game with eight catches for 118 yards, soon gave the Giants a first down at the Denver 4. It took five plays, but Jacobs eventually bulled into the end zone, cutting the Denver lead to 17-16.

The Broncos came right back, scoring on a 25-yard run around right end by Moreno. Then, on the Giants’ first play of the next possession, a pass intended for Rueben Randle was broken up by defensive back Tony Carter. As Carter deflected the pass, it ricocheted backward and bounced off his heel. It then bounded into the air and was intercepted by Chris Harris at the Giants’ 36.

That led to an 11-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to tight end Julius Thomas early in the fourth, giving Denver a 31-16 lead. An 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by Trindon Holliday put the game out of reach.

Eli Manning, who was 28 of 49 for 362 yards, threw a late touchdown as well as a late interception. Manning has seven interceptions in his first two games.

The Giants’ squandered opportunities in the first half could have been summed up by one drive, when tight end Brandon Myers tripped at midfield when he had an open path to the end zone. Randle also lost a nearly certain touchdown when he was stripped of the ball a foot from the goal line. Later in the same possession, a third-down pass slipped through Myers’s hands at the 1.

Still, Coughlin said the situation was not entirely dire. “We have 14 games left,” he said. “We’ve been 0-2 before and fought our way out of it. We can do it again, but our performance has to improve greatly.”

 

Copyright. 2013 The New York Times Company. All Rights Reserved

 
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