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Airborne Eli

By Nicholas Alfonse 12/22/09

The New York Giants came out like a team on a mission for Monday Night Football, taking it to the Washington Redskins in a 45 to 12 drubbing. The game was dominated on all three sides of the ball, barely allowing Washington the opportunity to breathe for the majority of the evening.

While the Giants have usually relied on a power running game, the offense has increasingly become centered on Eli and their young receiving core. Over the past two games, Eli has put together his best statistical numbers of the season, combining for six touchdowns, over 650 yards, over 70% completions, and zero interceptions.

Eli looks incredibly comfortable in the pocket, and continues to emerge as a dominant force in the offense, rather than just a game manager. Against Washington he consistently read the defensive schemes in order to change pass protections and call audibles to take the best opportunities possible. He uses these situations to his advantage and makes accurate throws without attempting to force plays that simply aren’t there.

The proof is in his performance, as he became the first Giants quarterback to throw for 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns in a season. He also broke his personal record of 24 touchdowns during the rout against Washington, setting the bar at 26. Third year receiver Steve Smith also ranks in the NFL’s top 10 for receptions and yards.

Nearly everyone in the offense was involved over the past two games, as five different players scored touchdowns in each game, with eight or more different players catching passes against both opponents. Sharing the wealth across the board makes it difficult for defenses to target and neutralize a specific offensive threat.

Aside from the poor performances in New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Denver, the offense has not been the major reason for the Giant’s problems. The team’s other three losses were lost by one touchdown or less, and could have been drastically different had the defense been able to perform.

The success of the young receivers has surprised everyone, and Eli deserves a great deal of credit for guiding these players and aiding in their development. Both fans and experts doubted the consistency and talent of this group during the off-season. The Giants and Eli look to disprove the non-believers, and make a run at the playoffs in the closing games of the season.

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