In the 2nd half of the NFC Championship game Eli was 16/30 for 134 yards for a 4.5 yards per attempt average. His yards per attempt were almost half of his regular season average of 8.4 yards per attempt. A lot of the effect on his numbers, and the overall performance of the offense, can be attributed to the 49ers front 4, blitzing LBs and the tight man coverage of the 49ers deep.
A breakdown of the numbers based on short, intermediate and long routes are shown below:
11/13 for 47 yards. (12 yards by Beckum, 11 yards by Hynoski, 6 yard slant by Cruz, 28 yards by RBs, 1 yard on 3 screens, and 3 checkdowns for 13 yards).
3/7 for 40 yards (5.7 yards per attempt)
2/10 for 47 yards and a TD (Of the long passing attempts 2 were attempted on 2nd and 3rd and 5 and 1 on 2nd and 3)
It is clear that the screen play and play design is an abject failure with 1 yard on 3 attempts. We have witnessed how effective the Eagles utilize the screen play to counter an aggressive pass rush and blitzing LBs. An effective screen game certainly would have benefited the Giants against this pass rush and blitzing LBs of the 49ers. Of the 13 short passes attempted only 3 were designed RB passes with 2 thrown to Hynoski. The ineffectiveness of Ballard was telling in the lack of production by the TE position. Cosel, of NFL films, stated the following about how the 49ers defended Beckum in the 2nd half: “the 49ers played nickel in the 2nd half versus “12” personnel when Beckum was the 2nd TE. They treated Beckum as a WR.” It is clear that Gilbride did not utilize the short passing game effectively and often to counter the pass rush of the 49ers. The checkdown accounted for almost 40% of the short passing attempts.
Finally, Cosell breaks down the struggles of the OL versus the fierce 49ers pass DL and pass rush:
NT Sopoaga very tough to move in the middle of the 49ers defense, He stalemated and defeated C Baas when it was one-on-one.
49ers front seven handled the Giants OL in the run game, The 3 inside defenders (Sopoaga, Willis and Bowman) won the matchups against the interior of the Giants OL
C Baas did not have a very good game, He struggled versus Sopoaga in the run game and was at times out-leveraged in pass protection
McDonald was a force as a pass rusher, Played with great leverage and power inside versus Snee and Baas
49ers pass rush became a factor in the 2nd half, Giants OL had protected well in the 1st half but they struggled in the 2nd half
Aldon Smith great ability to get skinny on stunts, Tremendous athleticism and lateral agility
49ers defense as a unit very quick with play recognition, They get a lot of players to the ball quickly
Diehl had a more difficult time in pass protection with J. Smith than he did with A. Smith
RT McKenzie struggled in pass protection, both with recognition and of stunts and pressures and with individual execution in one-on-one matchups
Giants ran 90 offensive plays, which is remarkable even in an OT game
The Patriots do not posses the talent and athleticism that the 49ers posses on the DL. But the one area of concern relates to how Baas clearly struggled against Sopoaga. Wilfork is not really a step down and may even be a step up in competition.