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 09/23/2012 – SPORTSTALK1240

Hosted by Kevin Cunningham, Justin Zucker and Joe Balarezo. Topics on the show included the NHL lockout, the Jets overtime victory in Miami, and other NFL action. In the secord half of the program, the guys talked some MLB baseball including the Mets disappointing season and the Yankees drive for the playoffs.


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 Deja Blue

It all looked so familiar.  The Giants were trailing the Patriots with the ball with just minutes remaining.  Eli Manning would have to lead an improbable drive down the field to get Big Blue a Vince Lombardi Trophy.  The underdog Giants would have to come from behind to defeat arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, Tom Brady.  The Giants would have to prove all the nay-sayers wrong once again.  Sunday night, Patriots fans had that feeling of deja blue.

Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning would lead another magical drive down the field with the Giants trailing 17-15 and just 3:46 remaining.  The Giants scored a touchdown that was not as memorable as Plaxico Burress’s touchdown in Super Bowl 42, but one that left the same exact feeling in the stomach of Patriots fans.  Ahmad Bradshaw would run it into the endzone with 58 seconds on the clock to give the Giants the lead, 21-17.  The biggest play of the drive came on the very first play.  Pinned back at his own 12 yard line, Manning threw a gorgeous pass to Mario Manningham who made an incredible play to stay in bounds and make the catch at the 50 yard line to give the G-Men great field position.  The Patriots challenged the play and ended up losing a timeout that would have helped in their final drive in the last minute of the game.  The Manningham catch reminded many of the David Tyree catch in Super Bowl 42 off his helmet.  It was the big throw and catch that gave them life and kept the drive going.  The difference between this drive and the drive in Super Bowl 42 was that the Giants made it look much easier last night.  They did not have one third or fourth down on the drive.  The Patriots answer had no answer for Manning and the Giants offense.  Manning found Manningham and Nicks the entire drive wherever and whenever he wanted.  Eli was making passes in his brothers building that we would normally see his brother make.  His throws were as accurate as they could be finding every opening in the Patriots defense.  It was evident that the Pats defense was fatigued as the Giants were finding open receivers on every play.

The Patriots would get the ball back with 58 seconds left and a timeout at their own 20 needing a touchdown to win.  It would end up being too little too late for Bill Belichick’s team.  There would be another deja blue moment on the drive as Justin Tuck would send Brady down on a sack on 3rd and 10 that forced the Patriots to use their final timeout.  That had Giants fans thinking of the sack rookie Jay Alford put on Brady in Super Bowl 42 that would put the Pats away.  It all looked so familiar as the events unfolded.  It seemed to be destiny for the Giants who once again entered the playoffs at 9-7 and made a magical run to a Super Bowl Championship.

Tom Coughlin, the coach on the hot seat just weeks before the playoffs began will now be holding up another Vince Lombardi Trophy in the Canyon of Heroes in the greatest city in the world on Tuesday.  Eli Manning will be holding his second Super Bowl MVP trophy.  Millions of fans will be packed into the streets celebrating another Giants championship.  A team that looked to have the keys to be headed home in December will now be presented with the “Key to the City” Tuesday in what is set to be another memorable parade in New York.

 Staff Picks for Super Bowl XLVI

Here are the picks from some of our staff:

Mike Carver
Patriots 27 Giants 20
Belichick & Brady have had 4 years to think about Super Bowl XLII and will be razor sharp focused to pay the G-Men back.

Brandon Contes
Giants 27 Patriots 20
We’ll see more defense than people are expecting, take the under.

Rob Kowal
Giants 41 Patriots 17
Eli will dominate and the Giants front-four will ruin Tom Brady and the Patriots night.

Bill Donohue
Patriots 31 Giants 27
This is like watching a Phillies-Yankees World Series for me…torturous.

Derek Wasiak
Giants 34 Patriots 31 OT
The Giants will become the 1st 9-7 team (400 points allowed, 32nd ranked rushing offense) to win the Super Bowl. Why? They are healthy!

Greg Locke
Giants 27 Patriots 24
See-saw battle ending with a Tynes FG in the waning seconds. Manning MVP.

Adam Kern
Giants 27, Patriots 24
The G-Men’s defense is healthy and clicking, and Eli will lead the way in a tough-fought battle to claim another Super Bowl.

Cody Normand
Patriots 24 Giants 21
The game will come down to a last second Steven Gostkowski field goal to win the game for the Pats.

Ty Hardamon
Giants 31 Patriots 24
G-men will get it done!

Jake Brown
Giants 23 Patriots 20
Game winning field goal by Tynes will win it; Eli gets MVP.

Joe Gucciardo
Giants 27 Patriots 17
The Giants offense is much more explosive than it was four years ago, and Patriots are not even close to the their 18-1 team that same season.

Should be great game! Be sure to tune in to SPORTSTALK1240 after the game (airing from 9:00pm to 11:00pm this and every Sunday night!), and call us with your thoughts on the outcome. Remember, you can listen live online while watching WGBB’s studio webcam by simply linking to http://webcam.sportsradiony.com!

 Feels Like ‘08 All Over Again
  Big Blue One Win Away from Super Bowl

No team is riding high like the New York football Giants are right now.  This team has all the confidence and motivation in the world.  They beat the Jets to stay alive in the playoff race.  They beat the Cowboys to win the NFC East and host a playoff home game.  They crushed the Falcons in the playoffs with their defense not giving up a point.  If that was not enough, they went into the frozen tundra in Green Bay Sunday and defeated the 15-1 Packers, who had one of the best regular seasons in the history of the NFL.

The Gmen are playing the best defense we have seen them play all year and they are doing it at the perfect time.  The offense is playing tremendous as Eli Manning continues to show the world that he is indeed an elite NFL quarterback.  Manning went out and beat Aaron Rodgers, the Super Bowl MVP and arguably the best quarterback this season.  Many thought it would be a close game, but the Giants had a dominant performance never trailing.  They went into the half with a 20-10 lead thanks to an unbelievable last second hail mary to the endzone from Manning to Hakeem Nicks for 37 yards.  The play helped send the Giants to the locker room with all the motivation they needed to get to San Francisco. They pulled away in the fourth quarter scoring two touchdowns and putting the game out of reach for the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers.

The Giants will now travel to San Francisco in the NFC Championship to play a 49ers team that has been surprising everyone with their defense, which has been one of the best in the league.  Alex Smith made a name for himself in the victory over the Saints leading not one, but two fourth quarter drives for touchdowns that helped the 49ers top Drew Brees and the Saints.  Coming into the year, all the talk was how Alex Smith has been a major bust and would never be a good quarterback.  All that talk has been put aside as Smith had a solid season and an unbelievable playoff performance.  The Giants lost earlier in the season at San Francisco in a very close game, 27-20 and looks for revenge Sunday night.  The last time the Giants played the 49ers in the playoffs, it was a game that all Giants fans want to forget.  The Giants blew a 38-14 lead in that game in the playoffs in 2003 and lost 39-38. It was one of the biggest collapses in football history.

This run that the Giants are on right now brings back the memories of the 2007-2008 Giants team.  Big Blue came into the playoffs with all the momentum they needed and went out and beat the Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Packers all on the road to get to the Super Bowl.  Giants fans are feeling nostalgic as one cannot help but look back at that team and their magical run ending with a Super Bowl win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots.  There is a chance we might just see Brady face off against Manning again come February.  If the Giants can contain Frank Gore and the 49ers rushing attack and play the defense we have seen in this playoff run so far, Tom Coughlin and the Giants might just be headed to Indianapolis to fight for another Vince Lombardi Trophy.

 Giants Look to Start New Year on Playoff Track

What will the New Year bring for the New York Giants? Well, for one thing, we know that as of tomorrow the Giants will be either undefeated in 2012, or will have one loss. It is the first game of the 2012 calendar year for the Giants and so much is at stake. A win for the Giants means an NFC East division title and a trip to the playoffs, a loss, means they don’t win the division, a possible firing of head coach Tom Coughlin, and a long painful spring and summer ahead.

What do the Giants need to do to beat the Cowboys tomorrow? The defense must play well; they cannot allow Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to have the kind of game that he had just 3 weeks ago. Although the Giants won that thrilling game in Dallas, this game will be different. Playoffs teams must play good defense, they cannot allow the Cowboys to gain nearly 450 yards of offense. If they do, the Giants will be in trouble.
One would think that with the Giants playing at home, they would have the advantage. The Giants are a disappointing 3-4 at home this season, and will hope to improve to 4-4 to go into the playoffs.

Giants pro bowl quarterback Eli Manning is going to have to continue to play well for the Giants to get the win. Giants’ fans do not need the Giants to have an outing like they had against Washington a couple weeks ago. They need a strong front from the offense and the defense. Eli Manning is the leader of the offense and Jason Pierre-Paul has emerged as the leader of the defense, and it seems that both of them love playing the Cowboys.
It is really simple, win and you’re in, let’s hope the Giants get this thing done and bring in a nice welcoming start into the year 2012.

 Elite Cannot be Spelled Without Eli
  Giant Comeback Puts Big Blue in 1st

Photo by AJ Guel Photography

The Giants were trailing by twelve after Tony Romo found a wide open Dez Bryant for a touchdown with 5:41 remaining.  It looked as if that would be the dagger.  The Giants would need to score a touchdown, stop the Cowboys from getting a first down, and then score another touchdown.  It looked as if the Cowboys were going to hold the division lead and put the Giants in a tough position to make the playoffs.

Then Eli Manning decided he would do what he does best.  That is winning football games in crunch time.  Manning would lead two miraculous drives down the field for touchdowns for the Giants and capture his sixth game-winning drive in the 4th quarter or overtime this season.  That leads the league, one more than that of the magic of Tim Tebow.  The Cowboys had their chance in the end as they set themselves up for a field goal to send the game to overtime.  It is not always the best situation when you have a rookie kicker in the end of a pivotal game.  Giants coach Tom Coughlin used his final timeout to try and ice rookie kicker Dan Bailey.  The strategy worked to perfection as on the second attempt after the timeout, Bailey’s kick was blocked by Jason Pierre-Paul, who has suddenly emerged as a dominant part of that Giants defensive line.

It seemed inevitable at the time, but the Giants never say die in these close football games.  Eli Manning is having arguably his best season as a quarterback.  The Super Bowl Champion quarterback has been clutch in every sense of the word this season leading the Giants to comeback wins late several times.  Manning has stepped up his game this season making himself one of the upper echelon quarterbacks in the league.  Manning is backing up his talk before the season claiming that he considers himself in the class of Tom Brady.  Manning is carrying Big Blue’s offense on his back this year playing with a banged up team all season and finding ways to win when it counts.  Manning has the Giants in a great position to get to the playoffs as they control their own destiny.  The Giants are essentially home for their final three games as they face the Redskins, the Jets, and the Cowboys to close out the year.  If Manning keeps doing what he is doing this year, the Giants might just be a force to be reckoned with come January.

 Giants Searching for “Cruz” Control

Photo by Tommy Gilligan

Here’s the word: The Giants are on a three game skid and will be hosting the Green Bay Packers this Sunday, who currently are on a 17 game win streak.

With Eli Manning performing at a high-level despite four interceptions in his last three loses, a depleted run game, and the emergence of Victor Cruz, the Giants are still in the playoff picture. This earns the Giants fourth in passing yards, last in rushing yards and the salsa dancing wide receiver ranks fourth in receiving yards with 957.

In recent weeks the defense has increased their total amount of yards allowed. Since week 10 Jason Pierre-Paul and company have allowed 305, 391, and 577 total yards. Can’t imagine it to change this week with the Aaron Rodgers leading the Packers to over 400 total yards a game in the NFL.

This week running back Ahmad Bradshaw hopes to re-enter the lineup from his foot woes. Bradshaw should spark the offense with his ability to catch out the backfield. Manning looked for Bradshaw for almost 67% of the team screen passes before injury. Bradshaw also averaged nine yards after the catch, but increased his drop total this year.

The Giants aren’t to far from finding “Cruz” control. The Giants have competed in every game this year, but run out of fuel in the last five minutes, or have mental lapses. With a tougher schedule approaching than division leading Dallas Cowboys, look for the G-Men to experience car trouble on the road to the NFC East. This stretch will prove if you can spell “Elite” without Eli.

 Bran-DONE Jacobs

Photo by Alexa Scordato

Brandon Jacobs might as well be Bran-done Jacobs. The Giants running back has put his mouth to more use than his legs this season. Instead of picking a fight with opposing teams and their linebackers he’s ripped Giants fans for booing.

Last time I checked he played football, arguably the toughest professional sport, and he’s crying over fans booing him? New York fans tell it like it is, they cheer when you perform and boo when you don’t. If Jacobs returns to the force that was a back-to-back 1,000-yard runner fans will cheer him instead.

Granted, the Giants lost veterans Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert before the season started, but both were old and declining. Injuries have also hurt the Giant as center David Baas has been in and out of the lineup, now William Beatty may miss the rest of the year, and Kareem McKenzie’s knees aren’t getting any younger.

Yet, Ahmad Bradshaw still found ways to be productive out of the backfield before his injury by using his speed and cut back ability to gain yards. Bradshaw also is useful for screen plays, unlike Jacobs who couldn’t catch a pass if he had Super Glue on his gloves.

It’s time for Jacobs to return to the brute force that no linebacker, much less a cornerback, wanted to see rumbling for yards. Even though Eli Manning has put “man” in Manning, he needs a running game to keep the defense honest and hit his homerun threats Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham off play-action passes.

Jacobs complained about a lack of carries to start the year. Now there are no more excuses, including booing from fans. On ESPN and Monday Night Football the spotlight is on and Jacobs must be the x-factor that carries New York on his 260 pound back to a win. If Jacobs has another “pathetic” effort as Tom Coughlin called it, it’s time to refer to him as Bran-done Jacobs.

Follow me on Twitter: @MikeAScotto

 Giants Blow Huge Opportunity
  Tough Schedule Coming up for G-Men

The New York Giants are in serious trouble. The Giants had a huge opportunity to take the Philadelphia Eagles out of what little walks of life they had left yesterday. They also had an opportunity to hold on to their one game lead in the NFC East over the Dallas Cowboys.

They failed on both attempts. The Cowboys and the Giants are now both tied in the NFC East after Dallas defeated Washington and the Giants lost to a depleted Eagles team.

The Eagles were without starting quarterback Michael Vick, and went with backup and former Texas standout Vince Young. Vince Young did not play outstanding, but he played well enough to win the game. Young completed 23 of his 36 passes along with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, although one of his interceptions was tipped.

Eli Manning completed 18 of his 35 passes with one blindsided interception in the 1st quarter. It seemed as if Manning barley had a chance to throw the football yesterday due to pressure from the Eagles defensive front. He tried to troop the Giants to a game tying touchdown in the final minute of the 4th quarter but was sacked by Jason Babin, and in the process of being sacked Eli fumbled the ball to seal the deal for the Eagles. The final score ended up being 17-10 Eagles.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Giants. Next up are the Saints in New Orleans followed by the Packers at home. Big Blue will then close out the regular season playing Dallas twice, in week 14 and 17, in addition to taking on the Redskins and the Jets.

The Giants must play good football if they want to win the NFC East, better yet the Wildcard. If not, they can kiss another postseason opportunity goodbye.

 Manning Needs Support
  Teammates Need to Step Up

Photo by Marianne O'Leary

It seems for his entire career, every year and every week Eli Manning has been ridiculed in some way. Whether it be his on-the-field inconsistency or his emotions, the Manning not named Peyton seemed to always face some sort of criticism.

In 2011, there is no doubt that Eli Manning has been the most consistent player on the team. He has looked fantastic in every week of the season. And with Brandon Jacobs not able to get anything going on the ground, there is a lot more pressure on Eli Manning.

And he is rising to the occasion.

His teammates around him? Well, they only step up sometimes. Last night against the Eagles, his receivers had too many drops. Tight end Jake Ballard who has been great all year, finally came down to Earth last night with drop after drop after drop. Hakeem Nicks didn’t seem to be that sharp either. Victor Cruz also contributed to the drops total.

Although it was Eli Manning who fumbled the football in what could have been a game-tying drive at the end of the game, I don’t think anyone is blaming the game on Eli Manning. He looked great again last night making more good throws than not. Amazingly, it seems as though the Giants having no ground game doesn’t even matter. Manning is playing that good where he can carry the team on his shoulders.

The Giants need more consistency on defense. Last night Vince Young picked up his third win all-time against Big Blue. The Eagles converted nine third downs on 17 attempts. Looking ahead, the Giants have to face Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. The Giants defense must do a better job stopping the opposition on third downs.

On offense, the Giants have to be more consistent around Eli Manning, otherwise my original prediction on August 13 of an 8-8 season will come true.

*A random side note: Is there no secret code (or even non-secret code) about warning quarterbacks about blind-side hits? Last night as I was watching what ultimately became the Giants final offense play of the game, I caught myself yelling at the TV set prior to the hit at the top of my lungs, “Eli Watch Out!” (It was followed up with some profanity). Now unfortunately for the Giants and their fans, I screamed that from State College, Pennsylvania. That’s 232 miles away from MetLife Stadium. So despite the scream being as loud as I can get, Mr. Manning didn’t hear me. But it seems like quarterbacks are never warned of these blind-side hits. Is an offensive lineman not capable of screaming “watch out” or something similar to alert his quarterback that his face is about to get a pummeled into the ground? I would like some sort of “blind-side alert system” to be implemented into the NFL. I think that would be helpful.

 Is Eli Manning Elite?

Photo by AJ Guel Photography

Yes.

It is not up for debate. Despite a very tough loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Eli Manning proved that he is indeed elite. Manning has been spot on for the last three weeks. His numbers would be even better if his receivers had not dropped as many passes as were dropped.

Sure Eli hasn’t been perfect, but nobody is. And no matter how you look at the game against the 49ers, there are a few things you pick up on immediately.

  1. Manning prior to the final 4th down play that sealed the deal, moved the chains on the two prior 4th down plays
  2. Manning made a perfect pass to Mario Manningham, a pass that if caught would have allowed Manningham to walk his way into the endzone for the game tying score.
  3. The 3rd and 2 inside hand-off play on the second to last offensive play for the Giants of the day was an abysmal play-call.

Why was that 3rd and 2 play an abysmal play? Because I knew it was happening. Ask my roommate. I was watching with him. I called it. I am  a senior in college with no football background. If I knew it was happening, San Francisco had to know. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride loves that play. It never works. But he loves it anyway… because he’s stupid.

Additionally, look at the article I am writing. Eli Manning is elite. Eli manning successfully moved the chains on two fourth down plays prior to that. Eli Manning has been nearly perfect for three straight weeks whether the stats show it or not. Eli Manning is the best fourth quarter quarterback in the league. Why on the biggest third down of the game, do you take the ball out of Eli Manning’s hands? When Giants fans or any football fan asks the question, “why take it out of Eli Manning’s hands,” you know that indicates a quarterback is elite.

But the real proof that Eli Manning is elite, is that we are even asking the question. For example, early in the year, the division rival Philadelphia Eagles were calling themselves the “Dream Team.” Before the season started, that was a legitimate argument. Here we are in week 10 of the NFL season and nobody is debating it anymore. The reason being, it is clearly not true.

So is Eli Manning elite? We wouldn’t be talking about it if he wasn’t.

 11/06/2011 – SPORTSTALK1240
  Jets, Giants big wins earlier in the day

Hosted by Kevin Cunningham, Joe Balarezo and Justin Zucker. The guys discussed the Jets win over the Bills, and the Giants upset win against the Patriots as well as next weeks games fore both teams. A little hot stove was touched upon starting with the Yankees resigning C.C Sabathia and possible starters in their rotation next season, followed by Jose Reyes free agency and the new CitiField dimensions. Also discussed were the 0-8 Colts and the possibility they might be gunning for Stanford QB Andrew Luck.


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