A puzzling pair of games for QB Manning, Giants


A puzzling pair of games for QB Manning, Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) For seven weeks, the New York Giants had one of the most balanced and lethal offensive units in the NFL.

Run, pass, early, late, you name it. The defending Super Bowl champions could do it all, ranking first in big-play ability (plays of 20 yards or better).

Then, out of nowhere, quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants (6-3) began to struggle offensively, especially in Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. And as they search for answers, with a trip to Cincinnati on tap, their lead in the NFC East isn't so comfortable, despite what the numbers say.

In each of the last two games, the offense has become bogged down. After completing better than 63 percent of his passes over seven games (169 of 265), Manning has converted at a clip of 47 (25 of 53) the last two, a span in which the Giants are 1-1.

Of course, the struggles of the rest of the division have masked New York's lack of production. As Philadelphia, Washington and Dallas - all with just three wins headed into the Eagles' matchup with New Orleans on Monday - continue to plod along, the Giants are still in first place. But with two division losses already, New York knows it needs to right the ship ... soon.

A more consistent running game will help. Leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw had 316 yards combined in wins over Cleveland and San Francisco, but in the three games since, Bradshaw has mustered only 169.

So what gives? Is it time for a November swoon?

``We're going to continue to stay positive and win some games at this time of the year. It's just a matter of us getting on the same page. I'm not worried,'' receiver Victor Cruz said. ``We just have to attack the problem areas and get back on track, beginning this week.''

After the Bengals (3-5), the Giants will have a bye. So, there's an opportunity for a little momentum switch. After all, Cincinnati has lost four in a row.

``No one likes to lose or play poorly,'' Manning said. ``We have to see where we can do better and above everything, you have to look at yourself first. I'm responsible for a lot of it. I'm where it starts. Our offense is not playing up to its potential. We didn't execute as well as we hoped to.''

Manning was asked if the offense is in a slump.

``Whatever you want to call it, that's fine,'' Manning said. ``It's just not playing good football. I have to make better throws and not leave some plays out there. I have to make better decisions with the ball. I didn't play well last night. There's no hiding it. I have to play better. That's all I'm worried about. The only way to get the bad taste out of our mouths is to play better football offensively.

``I know I'll bounce back and start to play better.''

Giants coach Tom Coughlin wanted to hear no part of a November slump.

``You can talk about that all you want,'' Coughlin said. ``The facts are the facts. I didn't see anything like that at the end of last season.''

The Giants, who were 7-7 at one point last season, went on to win their last six games, including the Super Bowl over New England. But the coach isn't worried about last season anymore.

``I can't explain all of the problems,'' Coughlin said. ``I don't think much has changed. We're just not clicking the way we were. We were the No. 1 big-play team and now two weeks later, we have nothing to show for it.''

After watching film Monday, Coughlin noticed that there were some problems between Manning and his receivers in terms of broken routes. Most notably, Cruz and rookie Rueben Randle broke off from original routes, leading to incompletions.

``There's no way that you can have a lack of communication and be successful in the passing game,'' Coughlin said. ``That has to be ironed out.''

Manning's quarterback rating on Sunday was 41.1.

``We haven't had the ability to hit the deep ball like we had been doing and the way we like,'' tight end Martellus Bennett said. ``It seems like the other team has more people in coverage, but that's about it. We have to make those plays.''

Members of the offensive line believe the last two weeks amounted to nothing more than a hiccup.

``We just need to get our confidence back. It's not a time to think this is a new trend,'' center David Baas said. ``I always feel that we have the ability to go down the field and score. It just didn't happen the way it usually does.''

Cruz, who has caught 57 passes for 717 yards and seven touchdowns, knows things will change for the better soon.

``We have a very good offensive football team,'' he said. ``We're able to do a lot of good things. We just have to get back on the right track and understand we have the ability to keep doing good things. We have to keep going forward and prepare ourselves the right way.''

And struggles or not, everyone feels that Manning will bounce back and regain his form.

``He has the ability,'' Coughlin said. ``I have faith in who he is and how he works. He's resilient. He plays with pride. I know he'll come bouncing back.''


NOTES: Middle linebacker Chase Blackburn, who sat out Sunday, said his hamstring felt much better and thought he could practice if the team had a workout Monday. He will wait to test it Wednesday after a scheduled day off. ... The Giants are 1-1 vs. the AFC North.


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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

USA Today Sports

Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

Braden Holtby has made Barry Trotz’s weekend very difficult, but in a good way.

Back-to-back games against the New York Islanders offered the Capitals an opportunity to play both Philipp Grubauer and Holtby. Grubauer stayed hot earning another win for Washington. On Friday, Holtby got his first start since March 6 and played very well.

“A win is good,” Holtby said after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable. Some things to build off of and things that I want to get better at. It was a step in the right direction.”


A 22 save effort on Friday was bookended by two big saves. The first shot Holtby faced was a turnover on the power play that led to a dangerous shorthanded scoring opportunity for John Tavares early in the first period. Then in the third, with the Capitals leading 5-3 and the Islanders trying to mount a comeback, Holtby turned aside a breakaway opportunity for star rookie Mathew Barzal.

“I thought he was pretty solid,” Trotz said. “He looked really confident.”

“I felt a lot better,” Holtby said. “Not that I was feeling horrible before, it's just you get refreshed. It's like anything, you have a week off work, a holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed.”

And that brings us to Sunday.

On Sunday, the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are a team in playoff position in desperate need of points after seven of their last eight games.

When asked on Wednesday who he thought would start Sunday’s game, Trotz said, “We're in a result business and we need some results so we'll see who is looking the sharpest and gives us the best chance to win.”

Both Grubauer and Holtby were impressive in their starts over the Islanders. You can’t argue Holtby is suddenly the hotter hand after one win considering how well Grubauer has played of late, but if Holtby remaisn the team’s No. 1, shouldn’t he get the next start after a strong winning performance?


Trotz was asked after the game who would start on Sunday after Holtby’s win.

“They're both playing well so I can't even answer that right now to be honest with you,” he said. “I do know that we have a number of games this week and whatever way go, obviously I'm going to sit down with the coaches and whatever way we go, I think they're both going to get some time this week.”

“I think you have to take it game-by-game,” Trotz added. “Bottom line is that you've got to make a decision and go with it and if your decision is that goalie A is a little hotter or you've just got a gut feel then you go with it and you have to live with it good or bad.”

So for now, it sounds as if we will see a rotation in net as Trotz continues evaluating which netminder gives the team the best chance to win in the playoffs. It is a tough position for the Caps’ bench boss, but, if both goalies continue to perform, having to choose between a hot Grubauer and a resurgent Holtby is a good problem to have and much preferable to having to choose between backup Grubauer and slumping Holtby.

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Not only did UMBC own Virginia on the court, they owned the Twitter world

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Not only did UMBC own Virginia on the court, they owned the Twitter world

They said it could not be done, no No. 16 seed would ever beat a No. 1 seed. The odds would be too great and the obstacle too steep.

As we all know, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), just proved that all wrong.


All season the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers dominated their opponents. They dictated pace, held opponents to less than 55 points, and smothered teams by forcing turnovers.

The roles filled on Friday evening and with an up-tempo 74-54 victory, UMBC proved the impossible.

The hardwood is not the only place that UMBC owned last night, they grabbed headlines, attention, and thousands of fans (literally) on Twitter.

Someone grabbed a hold of the UMBC Athletics Twitter account and took the upset by storm.

It all started when Seth Davis poked the bear:

and they were relentless.

Oh yeah, I forgot Seth Davis:

Then they started get snarky and owning everyone:

As someone the graduated from a commuter school, I can relate:

More Seth Davis:

Back to Twitter:

I guess that application wave actually was a thing or people wanted to know what ‘UMBC’ stood for:

Game. Set. History.

Now here come the shots against other schools:

Yeah, don’t jump on this bandwagon Terps fans. Stay in College Park:

I did not take long for other social media icons to start reaching out:

Oh and Seth Davis eventually did apologize:

Started the night at 5,588 and jumped up to 51.7 K. No one cares what you think Steven:

If you liked what you saw thank Zach Seidel, not an intern, not a student athlete who provided those tweets last night.

Zach, you just earned yourself a raise and we’ll see you in the Second Round.