New York Giants: Breaking Down Eli Manning's Costly First Interception
Robert Deutsch, USATSI

Eli Manning didn’t do his part, throwing two interceptions on the day, the first of which the Giants never came back from.

With a little under 14 minutes to go in the 4th-quarter trailing 26-24, the New York Giants found themselves driving on the Washington Redskins’ 15-yard line. Eli Manning and the Giants had a golden opportunity to seize the momentum of a back and forth contest, possibly for good.

On 1st-and-10, Manning stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure and threw a strike down the seam. The intended target was tight end Will Tye who was trying to gain position for the football on the goal line to haul in the catch.

Instead of allowing himself to be bodied out of the way though, Washington defensive back Quinton Dunbar stood strong and stayed in the path of the football. Reaching out with one hand, Dunbar reeled in the impressive interception. As a result, the failure to score on that drive would ultimately cost New York the ballgame.

It’s a tough play to swallow, a mistake that both could have been avoided and completely changed the outlook of a divisional game. While Manning understandably attempted to give Tye the opportunity to make a big time play, it backfired for a multitude of reasons.

Poor Ball Placement:

Firstly, Manning’s ball placement was awful. Dunbar had sold position on Tye’s inside hip, and instead of floating it up towards the back of the end zone or trying to squeeze it in back shoulder, Manning forced his tight end battle for the catch. Manning acknowledged after the game it was a post route, meaning he expected Tye to move farther towards the middle of the field then he actually did. Because of the positioning of his defender, Tye expected the football more to his outside and was thus late getting back to where he needed to be on the route which was called.

Though some of the onus must fall on Tye for not being able to at least make sure the ball fell incomplete, his quarterback put him in the least successful position possible to make the catch.

There Were Other Open Targets On The Throw:

Another frustrating piece about the play was Manning was far from devoid of options on the throw. Receivers Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard were both wide open on curl routes, having nearly five yards of separation between their defenders.

Instead of picking up a minimum of a quick five yards, Manning gambled and tried to put seven on the board. On a first and ten with plenty of time on the clock, a quarterback has to go with the safer routes. Especially when down and in the red zone.

Manning’s decision might have been hurried, but only slightly. The Redskins did rush seven defenders, but the Giants’ offensive line and backfield did a great job of picking it up and giving their quarterback time. Manning’s step up into the pocket gave him another few more quality seconds to move onto his next progressions. Despite the tight coverage though, Manning locked onto Tye and the rest is history.

The Giants Can’t Afford To Keep Giving Ball Up:

Entering the game against Washington the Giants possessed a minus four turnover differential. They now sit at minus six, good for a tie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 30th worst mark in the NFL.

New York needs to do a much better job taking care of the football this season. They got away with it through weeks one and two, but this latest loss is proof that’s it’s an unsustainable rate.

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