New York Giants 23 – Washington Football Team 20
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones took on the Washington Football team for the fourth time in his young career. He entered the matchup 3-0 against the fellow NFC East basement dwellers while having a 1-16 record against everyone else. The Giants last played Washington on October 18, a matchup they won by 1 point. Since then, they lost two games by a combined 3 points and WAS defeated DAL by 22 points before entering their bye week. A home game following a week off against a team playing on short rest (NYG played the previous Monday night) is historically a very advantageous situation.
NYG reached the WAS 35-yard line on the opening drive and were faced with a 4th-and-1 . They opted to send Dion Lewis, their least powerful back, up the middle where he was stuffed for a no gain. Fortunately, WAS gave the ball right back on a fumble by rookie running back Antonio Gibson on their very first offensive play. NYG took advantage of the that first turnover, creating 3 points out of it via a 38-yard field goal by Graham Gano. The key play on the drive was a 50-yard pass, the longest of the season for NYG, from Jones to rookie Austin Mack. Mack saw an uptick in playing time after Joe Judge made the decision to keep Golden Tate at home after showing up the team last Monday night against the Bucs.
NYG forced a 3-and-out on the next WAS drive before punting themselves just two plays after tight end Evan Engram dropped a pass and had it nearly land in the hands of a WAS defender. The play was originally called an interception, but the replay review overturned the call. On that NYG punt, rookie Isaiah Wright muffed the catch and the ball was recovered by Madre Harper. Four plays later Wayne Gallman crossed the goal line to give NYG a 10-0 lead, both scores coming off WAS turnovers.
WAS then made it to the NYG 10-yard line but multiple WAS penalties pushed them far enough back that the field goal attempt ended up being 48 yards. Dustin Hopkins nailed it through the uprights to cut the NYG lead down to one score, 10-3. On that drive, however, Jabrill Peppers broke the ankle of WAS quarterback Kyle Allen. It was a gruesome injury and the irony behind it was the fact that Alex Smith was the backup who trotted onto the field. Smith had a career-threatening, even life-threatening, injury to his leg just two years ago.
NYG marched down the field on their next drive to set themselves up for another field goal, this one being 48 yards. Gano put it through the uprights again to lengthen the lead back to 10 by a score of 13-3. The NYG defense then forced another 3-and-out, setting up the steady Big Blue offense to put more space between them and Washington. Alfred Morris, a former Pro Bowler who saw his best days in WAS, took over in the backfield for the next drive. He gained 35 yards on his first 3 carries of the possession. NYG kept the momentum going, with Jones hitting Engram in the end zone up the seam for a 16-yard touchdown.
The WAS offense, with under 2 minutes left, got deep into NYG territory. But the drive ended with an interception by Smith as a result of running back J.D. McKissic slipping and falling as the ball was being thrown. Blake Martinez came up with the pick. NYG had as 17-point lead at the half.
Washington then scored on their first three drives of the second half. Despite a slow first half marred by turnovers, they came out converting third downs and neutralizing the NYG pass rush. They scored 2 touchdowns, one on a short run by the rookie back Gibson and the other on a freak pitch, catch, and run to Terry McLaurin. They also added 3 points via a 44-yard field goal by Hopkins. NYG was able to put up three points of their own from Gano’s 18th consecutive successful attempt but the lead was just now three points, 23-20.
The NYG offensive line had been solid until this point, but the WAS defensive front started to get consistent pressure and an offensive pass interference call on Engram killed NYG’s next drive. They punted back to WAS, who had the ball back, down 3, with over 5 minutes left. Their offense was red hot, coming off three straight scoring possessions that netted 17 points.
The NYG defense has shown signs of life all year but they came up short in key situations multiple times and they just haven’t been able to come up with the big, timely play. Well, that was another trend that was about to end. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham has been finding creative ways to create pressure all year despite not having a true edge presence. A Logan Ryan blitz forced Smith into throwing an interception to Jabrill Peppers. On the final WAS drive of the game, a Leonard Williams pressure forced yet another interception, this one to Ryan. The NYG defense put the breaks on the WAS offensive surge and won for the 4th time in as many tries with Jones at the helm.
NYG wins, 23-20.
–Daniel Jones: 23-34 / 212 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 94.2 RAT
The Giants’ leading rusher added just 4 yards on the ground. Two things are most important from this one: Jones didn’t turn the ball over and he got the win. It is amazing that he is 4-0 vs WAS but 1-16 elsewhere. Some guys just have a team’s number and vice versa. Jones didn’t have many opportunities to really throw the ball downfield in this one. It was obvious he was trying to get the ball out faster and that he did. He was accurate short and intermediate in addition to appearing decisive. A good step in the right direction for Jones and he was fortunate he didn’t turn the ball over on his fumble where a defender didn’t come in contact with him. That could have changed the outcome of this one. Jones has turned the ball over in every one of his starts outside of this game and the 12/22/19 matchup against WAS. One can easily see just how much more winnable these games are when they don’t lose that intra game battle.
–Wayne Gallman: 14 att / 68 yards / 1 TD and 1 rec / 9 yards
Gallman is another one who seems to have his best volume work against WAS. He now has 294 career yards against them; he doesn’t have more than 125 against any other team. Gallman was impressive inside where he seemed to be one broken tackle away from breaking off a big play on multiple occasions. He also pushed the pile twice, showing good power and grit. Gallman continues to impress with the ball but he is the one back who seems to struggle when pass blocking.
-Alfred Morris played a huge part in the win. He gained 67 yards on 9 carries while adding 4 yards on a catch. His 7.4 yards per carry were the highest of his career since September 15, 2013 in games where had had more than 2 carries. Talk about coming out of nowhere. Morris made a couple key blitz pickup blocks as well and I think that presence and reliability back there are key reasons why he is on the roster and seeing time. The production on the ground is simply icing on the cake.
–Austin Mack: 4 rec / 72 yards
Mack was a few inches shy of his first career touchdown in the first quarter. It was an impressive scamper after the catch where he broke a tackle and lunged for the end zone, but his knee was ruled down just prior to crossing the goal line. Mack also brought in a 50-yard reception, the longest of the year for NYG. Much of his opportunity came from the Golden Tate situation and it may end up being a blessing in disguise. Always good to see a young talent get looks and capitalize on them at the expense of a disgruntled, unhappy, and overpaid veteran.
-Sterling Shepard added 39 yards on 6 catches as he was featured on several short passing plays. He came up with a couple of key 3rd-down conversions and he made key blocks on long NYG running game gains. His impact isn’t seen in the box score but he was a key part to the win.
-Darius Slayton was targeted just one time. That is the first time that has happened in his young career. In 4 career games vs. WAS, he has 4 catches for 54 yards.
-Evan Engram has gotten his fair share of roller coaster reviews over the past few years and we can only add to it at this point. In a week where it was confirmed multiple teams tried to trade for him last week, NYG decided to hold onto the talented playmaker. He led the team in targets with 10, catching 5 of them for 48 yards and a touchdown. There were multiple bumps in the road, however. Engram dropped 2 passes that were literally right in front of his face. One of them was just inches away from resulting in an interception. He also allowed a TFL and was flagged for offensive pass interference. Engram’s touchdown was a huge play and it was a high-skill level catch. I have been banging the table for this offense to send him up the seam more because that is where I think he does the most damage athletically, that is where he can be nearly impossible to cover. Hopefully Jason Garrett can see that now. It’s hard not to think about what Engram and this offense can be if he gets rid of these focus-drops.
-Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo saw the field a considerable amount. They were excellent in sealing off the edge on some of the longer NYG runs.
-Center Nick Gates continues to impress and grade out as the top OL on this team. This is now becoming a week after week occurrence and one has to think this can be the norm here. He had never played center before and obviously the preseason was shortened to the point where those first few weeks could have been erased in a normal year. Gates is a tone setter for this group. His energy, hustle, and attitude are making a difference and he is quickly becoming a key leader and component to the direction in which this team is heading.
-Rookie tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart both put out solid efforts and performances. Thomas allowed 1 sack but was pretty clean otherwise. I still see mechanical issues with his pass protection sets but he was able to maintain good contact for the most part for the second week in a row. Two of his three best performances on the year have come over the past 2 weeks. Peart played 31% of the snaps, mostly for Cameron Fleming but he did step in for Thomas for a drive. I think that was pre-determined, as the staff is clearly trying to get Peart in the mix more at both spots. The move did occur after Thomas’ worst series, however.
-The two veterans of the group, Kevin Zeitler and Fleming, both finished with below average grades. Zeitler was better, however. He allowed 2 pressures and a sack, although the sack could be put on Jones. Zeitler came up with multiple key blocks in the running game and he showed some juice as a lead blocker to the outside. That was the best I’ve seen him move this year athletically. Fleming allowed a pressure and a TFL. His down blocking in the running game was really poor. I think we see one more start out of him.
-Rookie Shane Lemieux got the start at left guard for the second week in a row as Will Hernandez was kept on the Covid-19 list. Similar to last week, there was a lot of good and some really bad. He allowed a sack and a pressure in addition to getting flagged for a holding penalty that ended up being declined by WAS. Lemieux looks really solid from a balance and technique perspective. His hands and feet are very in sync with each other and he seems to pick up what the defense throws at him schematically. I think another year in the pro-strength/conditioning program will put him where he needs to be. He looks like a player who can be counted on.
-Another quiet day for the NYG edge defenders. Kyler Fackrell was the one who saw the field the most and he ended with 3 tackles and 2 pressures. Not a bad day at all. He was flagged for an offsides penalty as well.
-Jabaal Sheard and Trent Harris saw the next tier of EDGE snaps, neither making a strong impact. Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown barely saw the field again.
-Big day for Leonard Williams, one of his best as a Giant. His stat line read 3 tackles / 3 pressures / 1 sack. He also created penetration that led to a TFL by Dexter Lawrence and his pressure at the end of the game forced the game-ending interception. Williams was all over the field and continues to dominate one-on-one blocking. If this defense can find a true EDGE threat, Williams is going take off.
-Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson both made plays behind the line of scrimmage. WAS only ran the ball 9 times but these two were still very effective up front.
-B.J. Hill had 1 tackle and a pressure while Austin Johnson added a tackle in his limited role.
-Tackling machine Blake Martinez led the team with another 10 in this game. He is just so automatic and reliable. He also came up with a key interception in the red zone toward the end of the first half. Big play, great timing, as WAS was heading toward at least 3 points.
-Devante Downs played the majority of the other ILB snaps when NYG used that personnel. He recorded 3 tackles but was exposed badly in coverage two times. This is a growing hole in this defense that may need to be addressed this offseason unless the staff is confident in Tae Crowder when he gets back on the field.
-Isaac Yiadom had his finest day as a Giant. Although he is still limited in coverage, he made a couple impact plays. He split a sack with Tomlinson and recorded 8 tackles. He allowed a freak touchdown to McLaurin and a 3rd-down conversion but he played a sound, aggressive game.
-James Bradberry wasn’t thrown at much. WAS clearly tried to attack elsewhere in the NYG secondary. He did allow a 3rd-and-1 conversion pass where he simply lost track of McLaurin. Otherwise, quiet game from him in a good way.
-Rookie Darnay Holmes is quietly improving. He made 5 tackles, most of which came on plays where he allowed a catch in man coverage. He did get beat on 3rd down a couple times, but I like how well he is staying in phase and maintaining body control. He plays in a really fast and aggressive fashion that impacts his game as a cover man, blitzer, and run defender.
-Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan both came up with multiple key plays in NYG’s 5-turnover performance. Peppers recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass in addition to breaking up 2 others. Ryan had the game-sealing interception and created pressure via a blitz that rushed WAS QB Smith into rushing a throw that ended up being an interception. Ryan also forced a fumble and added 6 tackles and Peppers added 6 tackles of his own. Impact game by these two, even though they both played balls poorly in coverage that resulted in big plays for WAS.
-Julian Love played just under half the snaps. He made 1 tackle and was beat in coverage a couple times in addition to a poor angle on one of WR Cam Sims’ big gains. Not a great game for him and I question what his role is on this defense right now with the hope he is taking notes on the versatility of Ryan, who may not be here next year.
–K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 38, 48, 42). Gano has made 18 straight, the longest active streak in the NFL this season.
-P Riley Dixon: 4 punts / 39.5 avg / 36.5 net
-S Jabrill Peppers, DT Leonard Williams, OC Nick Gates
-OT Cameron Fleming, S Julian Love, EDGE Jabaal Sheard
3 THOUGHTS ON WAS
- About a month ago, I discussed how poor I thought this WAS team really was and just how dark of a time they were entering. Since then, they did beat an awful DAL team in a game where the Cowboys backup QB was injured and taken out of the game, then they had a bye week, then they lost to NYG again. I’ve seen their last 4 games in full in addition to 2 others. Unless they find a solution at QB (Haskins won’t be it from what I hear), we may be looking at the next NYJ or JAC. They are about to hit a point where they can’t pay all of their DL, the best part of their team, and “QB Hell” is approaching.
- One player on this team who I have liked since last year, but who hasn’t received a consistent number of opportunities, is Cam Sims. He finished with 3 catches for 110 yards. The third-year receiver from Alabama has played in just 16 games (primarily on special teams) but has seen 11 targets that has produced 9 catches / 198 yards / 1 TD. I think they have something in him and it would be wise to use the rest of this season to expose him to regular snaps and opportunities.
- Chase Young, the number 2 overall pick, got off to a nice start prior to injuring his groin. For those that don’t know much about soft tissue injuries to that area, it isn’t fun and they heal very slowly. The snap out of his stance and torque when involved with blockers just isn’t there. He looked much differently early in the year and just doesn’t seem 100% right now. Tough to get an evaluation on him knowing that.
3 THOUGHTS ON NYG
- Check out these numbers. NYG gained 350 yards, WAS gained 402. NYG had 74 total offensive plays, WAS had 50. NYG averaged 4.7 yards per play, WAS averaged 8.0. NYG had 2 sacks, WAS had 5. NYG averaged 4.7 yards per pass play, WAS averaged 8.9. NYG punted 4 times, WAS punted 2 times. If you showed me just these numbers and I didn’t know anything else about the game, I would have said there was little-to-no shot NYG won this game. This is how vital the turnover battle is in the NFL. Giants did not turn it over once, WAS turned it over 5 times (and the margin if victory was still only 3 points). So when I bring up just how vital it is that Daniel Jones is not a turnover machine, do not bring up Brett Favre. If Jones keeps the turnovers away, NYG can win right now, not just down the road.
- The Golden Tate situation was a breath of fresh air. I’ll be honest, Tate yelling “Throw me the damn ball” last week wasn’t a huge deal. Was it notable? Yes. It wasn’t a big deal, though. The fact that Judge took that (and perhaps some stuff behind the scenes we don’t know about) and used it to bench him / keep him home from practice for a day / put him on the scout team / keep him home from the game was great to see. I think he is laying the foundation for anyone and everyone to see that the little things that other coaches overlook won’t be tolerated. They can morph into bigger issues down the road. Young players can take it in and realize that won’t be acceptable in the future. Another check in the box for Judge who, I will say, has this team feeling different than what we have seen in recent years.
- The Giants’ defense is getting a little bit of a pass because of the turnovers and because of the win itself. Truth told, they were awful in the second half against an offense that ranked 30th in the NFL. They are right there with NYJ and NYG as the worst offense in football. Alex Smith passed for 260 yards in the second half alone. What happened? NYG played a lot of zone coverage and it didn’t pan out. I think Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham has done a fine job mixing things up, playing matchups, and creating a pass rush with a lack of true pass rushers. I just don’t think he has the horses right now to be effective in every-down man coverage. James Bradberry is solid but the other corners can’t be relied on in that kind of role. In addition. I’m not sure the safeties are good enough over the top to even somewhat make up for it. That is going to need to be a key focal point to the upcoming NYG roster build.