Seahawks will be facing a Giants team that has changed
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Heading into their bye, the Seattle Seahawks had a good idea about the team they would be facing in a couple of weeks.
The New York Giants were winless. Their offense relied on Eli Manning and the passing game, and the defense was having a down year after helping new coach Ben McAdoo end a four-year postseason drought.
The Seahawks (3-2) are going to see a much different opponent when they face the Giants (1-5) on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
New York obviously has a win after stunning the Broncos 23-10 in Denver last Sunday night. The pass-happy offense has become a run-first group with coordinator Mike Sullivan now calling the plays, and Manning throwing sparingly to young receivers who have replaced the injured Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris.
Despite injuries and the suspension of veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Steve Spagnuolo’s defense rediscovered itself in Denver. Rodgers-Cromartie is also back this week.
“We have players who aren’t selfish,” McAdoo said. “Talented men of integrity who want to win football games, and I believe they all see the best way for us to win football games is to be physical in all three phases, heavy-handed, stop the run, run the ball, get timely conversions and timely stops on third down, and play good special teams play.”
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman isn’t ready to say the Giants are now a run-first team, even though they have rushed for 300 yards in the past two games.
“It’s the NFL; every week, some teams are totally different in their personnel and the way they attack defenses, so they could go from being a majority 12-personel team (with two tight ends) against Denver to all 11,” Sherman said.
The Giants’ passing game might pick up this week if Sterling Shepard returns after missing a game with an ankle injury.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson never had doubts about the Giants’ defense, which blew fourth-quarter leads against the Buccaneers, Eagles and Chargers.
“The reality is all their games have been super close against some tough teams, against some really good players, too,” Wilson said. “They have been right in pretty much every game, and unfortunately for them, they have lost a couple tight ones. We know they are going to be ready to roll and they just came off a big win.”
Safety Landon Collins isn’t ready to say the Giants’ defense is back.
“Not yet. I mean we got to showcase it again,” Collins said. “Once we showcase it again, then we can possibly say that, but not yet. We got to just put it on film one more time.”
Things to watch for this weekend:
RUN GAME WOES: Seattle is still struggling to find consistency in the run game. It was held to 62 yards on 25 carries in the victory over the Rams prior to the bye. Thomas Rawls led Seattle with 20 yards rushing. Eddie Lacy was mostly ineffective as well. Seattle has been held under 100 yards rushing three times.
TOP TARGET: With all the injuries, rookie tight end Evan Engram has emerged as Manning’s top target. He had five of the Giants’ 11 receptions last week for 82 yards and a touchdown. The first-round draft pick has 24 catches for 282 yards and two touchdowns, second best on the team in all three categories.
EXCELLENT EARL: Seattle safety Earl Thomas continues to show why he’s one of the best safeties in football. He had seven tackles, a pass breakup, an interception and a key forced fumble near the goal line against Rams. His chop on the arm of Todd Gurley as the halfback reached the ball for the pylon caused a touchback and was critical in Seattle’s six-point victory.
GIANTS’ O-LINE: After weeks of searching, the Giants seemingly have settled on an offensive line. The key was moving Justin Pugh from left guard to right tackle. John Jerry moved from right guard to left guard, and D.J. Fluker took over at right guard. Ereck Flowers has remained the left tackle and Brett Jones has taken over at center with Weston Richburg sidelined by a concussion. Bobby Hart lost his job at right tackle.
GOING EAST: Seattle has shown no problems going to the East Coast and playing at MetLife Stadium. The Seahawks are 4-0 at the stadium, including their Super Bowl victory over Denver. They have beaten the Giants twice — 36-25 in 2011 and 23-0 in 2013 — and knocked off the Jets last year 27-17.
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.
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