Cruz's emergence makes Giants a matchup nightmare

The New York Giants improved to 5-2 on the season and earned a two-game lead over the rest of the NFC East, thanks to a 25-yard, game-winning touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz against the Miami Dolphins.

Cruz is no longer a newcomer. He is the Giants' second-leading receiver in terms of catches (28) and yards (497), and leads the team in receiving touchdowns (4). He makes contested catches, breaks tackles, and gains chunks of yardage, at a rate of 17.8 yards per catch. He has proven capable of playing any receiver position, but is at his best in the slot.

On his winning touchdown against the Dolphins, Cruz aligned in the slot to the left. Because it was third and 12, the Giants provided max protection for Eli Manning, keeping seven blockers in to protect.

The Dolphins played Cover 2-man, with man-to-man coverage on each receiver and two deep safeties over the top to provide help. Cruz was matched on a former Giant, cornerback Will Allen.

Both Dolphins safeties worked to the outside, to help on the outside receivers, leaving Cruz alone in the middle against Allen. The matchup wasn't fair for Allen, as he isn't as quick as Cruz, and he had a lot of open space to cover.

Manning was looking to Cruz all the way and Cruz beat Allen badly to the inside. Thanks to the maximum protection, Manning had the necessary time to make an accurate deep throw for the winning score in a tight contest.

Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Jake Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw make an excellent group of receivers, and Cruz's touchdown perfectly illustrates what a matchup nightmare the Giants have become.

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