After watching the first half of the game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots it’s safe to say the Giants are pretty happy with where they are at half time. No matter what happens from here on out, Tom Coughlin should be credited with a courageous call after winning the coin toss. He chose to give the ball to probable season MVP and wrecking ball Tom Brady. The Patriots have scored on 5 out of 8 first half opening drives this year including 4 in a row coming in to this game, and they lead the league in third down conversions. The chances of handing them the ball to start
and not giving up points are slim, so why do it? Well, there’s the fact that the Patriots have scored on an even more consistent basis on second half opening drives (100% of them), and the fact they’ve scored in 31 straight quarters (or all quarters but one for the entire season to date). There is more to it than that though and it has nothing to do with New England.
Its hard to question the team that’s been the only consistent Patriot beater in the last decade (including two Super Bowls). But this isn’t a 10-6 or 11-5 confident Giants team. It’s a 4-5 crappy division leacher facing an 8-0 Pats team that’s never been more motivated. However, if you always worry about what the Patriots are doing, you’re not thinking about what you’re doing. The one Patriots weakness this season seems to be giving up the occasional deep ball. The Giants have consistently been very good at exploiting the Patriots secondary for big, timely plays. The Patriots may be able to work the ball down the field unstoppably and eat up a lot of clock, but the Giants offensive plays and formations are almost designed with the Patriots in mind. You’re going to give up points so you may as well stick to your own game plan. Plan to let your offence have the ball as much as possible in the second half and trust that they’ll have some success with the long ball. The trust needs to be put in the defence to spend the early part of the game getting a feel for the Patriots and start making some stops hopefully some time before the half. In essence, giving the ball to the Patriots at the start gives the defence the best chance at keeping it away from them later on.
Add in the extra mind game bonus against the Pats, who often defer the first possession themselves, and you’ve got a recipe for a great chance at winning, at least in theory.
Regardless of how the game turns out, kudos to Coughlin for sticking to his own game plan and putting his team first.