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NFL Preview - Seattle (1-3) at N.Y. Giants (3-1)
By Michael Rushton, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - A second straight fourth-quarter comeback kept the New York Giants tied atop the NFC East. A late rally won't be necessary if they can duplicate the results of their past two meetings with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Giants play the first of three games in a row at MetLife Stadium with Sunday's clash with the Seahawks and will be attempting to win a fourth straight game after rallying to beat the Arizona Cardinals, 31-27, last week. New York erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit when Eli Manning connected with Hakeem Nicks for a 29-yard score with 2:39 to play, one week after the team trailed by two points in the final stanza before coming back to beat the Philadelphia Eagles.
Nicks' game-winning catch came one play after receiver Victor Cruz caught a pass and fell to avoid a tackle, leaving the ball on the ground as he got up before being touched by a defender. Arizona picked up the ball and thought it had a turnover, but it was ruled that Cruz was down because he had given himself up.
New York overcame its largest fourth-quarter deficit since trailing 24-7 in Philadelphia before pulling out a 30-24 victory in overtime on Sept. 17, 2006.
"These games are fun, but I don't think you want to play in these games every single week and get down 10 and have to come back," said Manning, who is 21-4 in October as a starter. "But sometimes it's good to know that you can do that. We have to work on getting off to a faster start and not being down in the fourth quarter every time."
The Giants haven't lost since Week 1 in Washington and won't play on the road again until Nov. 6 at New England. They also have a bye on Oct. 23 as part of their homestand.
New York will look to get the residency off on the right foot and has momentum in this series, having outscored Seattle by 72 points over the last two meetings and winning last year's matchup, 41-7. However, the Seahawks aren't reading too much into that defeat.
"That was last year. We haven't talked about it at all, to be honest with you," said Seattle running back Leon Washington. "What happened the year before doesn't dictate what's going to happen this year. We haven't talked about it at all. We know that they're a really good team."
The Seahawks hope to snap a six-game road losing streak after splitting a pair of games at home in their last two outings. They opened the season with consecutive defeats at San Francisco and Pittsburgh before notching a three- point win over visiting Arizona in Week 3. They nearly came back from 20 points down in the third quarter against visiting Atlanta last weekend, but fell short in a 30-28 loss.
Seattle was down 27-7 in the third quarter, but got within two on Tarvaris Jackson's eight-yard touchdown pass to Ben Obomanu with 8:13 to play. The Seahawks eventually began their final drive of the game on their own 15-yard line and got to the Atlanta 45 with 22 ticks left. However, wide receiver Sidney Rice took a false start penalty to knock the club back five yards and kicker Steven Hauschka's 61-yard field goal try with eight ticks left was short.
Jackson, who threw for a career-high 319 yards with three touchdown passes, was glad to see his team battle back despite coming up shy of a win.
"It's good to know that we got a team with a bunch of fighters," said Jackson. "I feel like we're coming together more as a team, not just with offense but with special teams, offense and defense. Just a positive thing from this game, and that's very encouraging to see that we have those types of guys on this team that never give up. So I'm looking forward to the future with this team."
The Seahawks, who have a bye after this game before visiting Cleveland, haven't won on the road since Nov. 14 of last year.
The Giants have won nine of 14 lifetime meetings with Seattle and as previously mentioned, have taken the two most recent encounters between the teams in lopsided fashion. In addition to last year's 34-point rout in the Emerald City, New York rolled over the Seahawks by a 44-6 score at Giants Stadium in 2008. The Giants are 6-1 all-time at home against Seattle, with the Seahawks' lone victory a 17-12 decision on Dec. 11, 1983. Seattle last topped New York during the 2006 season, a 42-30 triumph at CenturyLink Field.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is 3-5 against Seattle in his career, including 1-3 while at the helm of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1995-2002. The Seahawks' Pete Carroll, a head coach for the New York Jets in 1994, has split two previous matchups with the Giants, besting them in 1999 while then at the helm of the New England Patriots in addition to last season's setback.
Coughlin is 2-1 in head-to-head bouts with Carroll, which includes a 25-10 win over the Patriots in a 1998 AFC First-Round Playoff while with Jacksonville.
WHEN THE SEAHAWKS HAVE THE BALL
Seattle owns the worst-ranked offense in the league (254.0 ypg), but is coming off an excellent outing versus the Falcons in which the unit racked up 372 yards thanks to Jackson's career day. Jackson (846 passing yards, 5 TD, 4 INT) matched a career-high with 25 completions, hitting Rice (11 receptions) for a 52-yard score as well as connecting with Mike Williams (8 receptions) and Obomanu (11 receptions) for touchdowns. They were the first touchdown catches of the season for all three receivers, not surprising given that Seattle is averaging just 14.5 points per game. Jackson, who was also picked off twice but was not sacked, completed three passes each to Rice, Williams, running backs Marshawn Lynch (141 rushing yards, 7 receptions, 1 TD) and Justin Forsett (10 receptions), Obomanu and tight end Zach Miller (8 receptions), while rookie receiver Doug Baldwin (12 receptions, 1 TD) hauled in a team-leading five catches for 84 yards. Seattle did manage just 53 yards on the ground, with Lynch leading with way with 24 yards on eight carries with a score. Jackson scrambled for 16 yards behind a line that is still without guard Robert Gallery, who is not expected back until after the team's bye due to a groin issue. Williams is questionable this weekend with a concussion.
The Giants will look to get to Jackson and come into the game tied for fifth in the NFL with 12 sacks despite not having defensive end Osi Umenyiora for the season's first three games and fellow end Justin Tuck for two of those four contests. Umenyiora made his season debut versus Arizona and had a pair of sacks while forcing a fumble in his first action since having arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 19. Tuck (6 tackles, 1.5 sacks), meanwhile, sat out due to a neck and groin ailment. End Dave Tollefson (5 tackles, 3 sacks) added the first two-sack game of his career last week, while Jason Pierre-Paul (22 tackles, 4.5 sacks) made the start for Tuck after filling in for Umenyiora for the first three weeks. Former Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle (29 tackles, 1 INT) grabbed an interception, giving the Giants a turnover in 17 straight regular- season games. Rolle was also one of three New York defenders to log six tackles, while linebacker Michael Boley (25 tackles) led the way with seven. Fellow linebacker and rookie Jacquian Williams (25 tackles) recovered a fumble in addition to making four tackles. New York has been vulnerable against the run, allowing 116.5 yards per game to rank 21st in the league, and gave up 156 rushing yards against the Cardinals.
WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL
Despite averaging just 333.0 yards per game (21st in the league), the Giants rank ninth in the NFL with an average of 25.5 points per game. The ground game has yet to be a major factor, as New York logged just 54 rushing yards versus Arizona and ranks 24th at 87.5 yards per game on the ground. Ahmad Bradshaw (228 rushing yards, 15 receptions, 3 total TD) managed 39 yards on 12 carries last week but scored a touchdown, as did Brandon Jacobs (116 rushing yards, 2 TD). The score was the 51st on the ground for Jacobs in his career, leaving him four shy of Tiki Barber's club record. Manning (1066 passing yards, 8 TD, 2 INT) has thrived thus far for the Giants, throwing for 321 yards last weekend in addition to a pair of touchdown throws without an interception. Manning was also sacked just once and targeted Nicks (24 receptions, 2 TD) 14 times, connecting with his top target on 10 occasions for a career-high 162 yards. One week after posting 110 yards and two touchdowns versus the Eagles, Cruz (11 receptions, 2 TD) made a career-high six catches for 98 yards against Arizona. Tight end Jake Ballard (7 receptions, 1 TD) also caught a touchdown pass from Manning.
The Seahawks rank in the middle of the pack in most main defensive categories, but couldn't play up to par versus the Falcons last weekend. They rank 13th with an average of 341.5 yards allowed per game, 14th against the run and are tied for 18th in scoring defense at 24.3 points allowed per game, but saw Atlanta exceed all of those totals with 412 yards of offense, 121 rushing yards and 30 points. Though Seattle and linebacker David Hawthorne (22 tackles) held Atlanta running back Michael Turner under 100 yards rushing, he did score twice. Hawthorne topped the club with 10 tackles, while safety Earl Thomas (27 tackles) set a career-high with nine stops. He was without his starting partner in Kam Chancellor (24 tackles, 1 INT), who sat out the game with a quadriceps injury and is questionable for this week. Defensive end Anthony Hargrove's status is also up in the air due to a hamstring issue suffered against Atlanta, while linebacker Matt McCoy, who led the club with 19 special teams tackles last year, was placed on IR due to a knee injury this week. Cornerback Marcus Trufant (23 tackles, 1 INT) and linebacker Leroy Hill (23 tackles, 1 sack) also made nine stops for a Seattle defense that failed to force a turnover or come up with a sack against Atlanta.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Seahawks have posted just a pair of interceptions through their four games and could have trouble containing Manning and his plethora of receivers this weekend. The Giants quarterback is 40-of-57 passing with 557 yards and five touchdowns without a pick in the last two meetings, so getting to Manning often would help Seattle.
Another fourth-quarter comeback might not be in the cards for the Giants, given that the Seahawks tend to get stronger as the game goes on. Seattle is outscoring opponents 45-30 in the second half, including 28-10 in the third quarter.
Seattle's young line, which features rookies John Moffitt and James Carpenter on the right side at guard and tackle, respectively, will likely have its hands full with Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora, though they could catch a bit of a break if Tuck sits out again. Getting Lynch going will prevent the New York defensive line from running downhill.
Good teams find ways to win games, and that is exactly what the Giants have been able to do over the first quarter of the season. Though playing from behind is not an ideal thing to do every weekend, it hasn't hurt New York yet, and those slow starts will have the squad on its toes this Sunday. Seattle showed a lot of heart versus the Falcons a week ago, but appears to be overmatched in this showdown by a veteran Giants team who should take the life out of the traveling Seahawks early en route to another big victory in this series.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Giants 34, Seahawks 17
10/06 18:07:37 ET
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