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New York Giants take control with ball-hogging offense

Dec. 24, 2010
 
Brandon Jacobs has teamed with fellow New York running back Ahmad Bradshaw for 1,909 yards, establishing a ball-control offense for the 9-5 Giants.
Brandon Jacobs has teamed with fellow New York running back Ahmad Bradshaw for 1,909 yards, establishing a ball-control offense for the 9-5 Giants. / File/AP

Giants of the Big TOP*

TOP* Team Record
33:14 Giants 9-5
33:11 Chargers 8-6
32:39 Falcons 12-2
31:48 Jaguars 8-6
31:41 Jets 10-4
31:33 Steelers 10-4
31:23 Eagles 10-4
31:23 Packers 8-6
31:22 Saints 10-4
31:05 Rams 6-8
*Time of possession

More

Many of us have an heirloom or treasured item that we’ll keep for as long as we live.

For the New York Giants, nothing is more precious than the football judging by the time they spend hanging on to it.

When it comes to time of possession, the Giants lead the league. New York and the San Diego Chargers are the only teams to deploy their offensive units for average of better than 33 minutes per game.

Quarterback Eli Manning and running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs opened the season with 34 minutes, 39 seconds of possession in a 31-18 win over Carolina. The Giants ran 67 plays to 64 for the Panthers.

Similar scenarios have played out in the weeks since. New York has won the time of possession battle a league-leading 11 times this year and has had more offensive snaps than its opponent on 9 occasions.

The Giants have initiated more plays from scrimmage (919) than all but six other teams. They are on pace for 1,050 which would be the second greatest number (1,055 in 2005) under Tom Coughlin.

Coughlin has coached the Giants since 2004. With his team at 9-5, this will be the fourth time he’s produced a winning record in New York and in each of those seasons his team averaged better than 30 minutes in time of possession.

This year his team is 8-3 when the offense is on the field for more than 30 minutes. It is 3-1 when that number goes over 35 minutes.

New York at its finest can overwhelm. On Nov. 7, the Giants held the ball for 42:34 in a 41-7 throttling of the Seahawks. They ran 79 plays to Seattle’s 37 and outgained their hosts 487 yards to 162.

That game alone is a major reason why Coughlin’s team is averaging the best time of possession (33:44) on the road. The second-place Chargers (32:43) are more than a minute behind.

Is there a correlation between time of possession and winning? Time constraints prevent arriving at a definitive answer, but teams that hold the ball for more than 30 minutes are 143-64 (.691) this season. They are 48-10 (.828) if that number is greater than 35 minutes, and 5-1 (.833) when over 40 minutes.

Overtime games were not included when calculating those records.

Like many teams that control the clock, the Giants have an imposing running game. For New York that means Bradshaw and Jacobs, the most productive tandem in the NFC with 1,909 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.

Bradshaw and Jacobs conjure up images of 15-play, 80 yard drives that unfold over 7- or 8-minute stretches, but defense plays a role in time of possession as well. The quicker that unit gets off the field results in another opportunity for the offense.

In the first half against the Eagles last week, the Giants didn’t allow Philadelphia a drive of more than six plays or one with more than two first downs. At halftime, New York owned an 18:22-11:38 edge in time of possession and was ahead 24-3.

Of course the second half was a different story. The Eagles piled up 344 yards and came back to win 38-31.

The Giants, with their sixth ranked rushing attack and No. 2 defense, will pose a formidable challenge for the Packers Sunday. Should they maintain their ball hogging ways, they will likely notch win No. 10 as teams earning the greater time of possession at Lambeau Field in December are 9-1 in the regular season since 2006.

Regular-season series

Overall: Packers lead 25-21-2

At Lambeau Field: Giants lead 3-2

Starting quarterbacks

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (25-20 overall; 0-0 vs. New York)

Giants: Eli Manning (59-42; 0-1 vs. Green Bay)

Once a Giant, now a Packer

Safety Charlie Peprah was the Giants’ fifth-round draft pick in 2006 and played in four preseason games with them that year.

Once a Packer, now a Giant

Cornerback Will Blackmon (2006-09) is a former Packer. Also, two former draft choices G/T Jamon Meredith (5th round, 2009) and DE Dave Tollefson (7th round, 2006) are Giants.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of "Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness," a statistical history of the Packers. E-mail him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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