Jonathan Casillas and Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images
NEW YORK GIANTS 16 – NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 13…
The New York Giants gutted out a 16-13 win over the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The game-winning 23-yard field goal was kicked by Josh Brown as time expired on the clock. The victory improved the Giants record to 2-0, the first time the team has started the season with two wins since 2009.
Remarkably, the Giants beat the high-powered Saints without scoring an offensive touchdown. The Giants dominated the stat sheet, out-gaining the Saints in first downs (22 to 16), third-down efficiency (47% to 23%), total net yards (417 to 288), net yards rushing (64 to 41), and net yards passing (353 to 247). But the Giants fumbled the ball away three times (for a -3 turnover differential) and were halted on a 4th-and-goal attempt.
The story of the game for the Giants was their defense and special teams. In seven first-half possessions, the Saints only gained six first downs. They punted the ball away five times, had a field goal blocked, and kicked another field goal with their only productive drive of the first half (11 plays and 54 yards).
Meanwhile, the Giants offense bumbled and stumbled in the first half even though the team punted the ball away only once (on their first drive). The Giants had an impressive 14-play, 80-yard possession end on 4th-and-2 at the 3-yard line with an incomplete pass to wide receiver Odell Beckham. Then came three straight offensive possessions with fumbles – one each by running back Shane Vereen, wide receiver Victor Cruz, and quarterback Eli Manning.
The drama began after Manning’s fumble which gave the Saints the ball at the New York 25-yard line. The defense held and forced New Orleans to attempt a 38-yard field goal. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins blocked the attempt. The loose ball was picked up by cornerback Janoris Jenkins who then raced 65 yards for the first score of the day for either team with 2:30 to play in the 2nd quarter. The Saints then responded with their one scoring drive of the first half. At the break, the Giants led 7-3.
The Giants missed a 53-yard field goal and the Saints punted early in the 3rd quarter. The Giants then put together an 11-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a 48-yard field goal by Josh Brown. The Saints responded late in the 3rd quarter/early in the 4th quarter with a 9-play, 74-yard drive that ended with 17-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Drew Brees. The score tied the game at 10-10.
The Giants immediately followed this up with an impressive 11-play, 74-yard drive that unfortunately stalled at the 1-yard line after facing a 1st-and-goal from the one. Brown’s second field goal of the day gave the Giants a 13-10 advantage with 8:46 to play. After both teams exchanged punts, the Saints tied the game after an 8-play, 47-yard drive set up a successful 45-yard field goal with 2:54 to play.
Then came the game-winning possession by the Giants as New York drove 70 yards in 11 plays. They converted two 3rd downs, including a 6-yard pass on 3rd-and-1 to wide receiver Sterling Shepard and a 34-yard pass to Cruz on 3rd-and-8 down to the Saints’ 2-yard line. After three kneel downs by quarterback Eli Manning, Brown kicked the game-winning 23-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.
Offensively, Manning finished the game 32-of-41 for 368 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. His leading receivers were Shepard (8 catches for 117 yards), Beckham (8 catches for 86 yards), and Cruz (4 catches for 91 yards). The leading runners were Vereen (14 carries for 42 yards) and Rashad Jennings (13 carries for 27 yards).
Defensively, the Giants did not force a turnover for the second game in a row. The first sacks on the year were generated by safety Landon Collins and cornerback Leon Hall.
Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.
INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were defensive tackle Robert Thomas (illness), quarterback Josh Johnson, running back Bobby Rainey, running back Paul Perkins, wide receiver Roger Lewis, offensive tackle Will Beatty, and defensive tackle Montori Hughes.
Safety Mykkele Thompson injured his knee and right tackle Marshall Newhouse strained his calf in the game. Neither returned. Newhouse was seen after the game with his right foot in a boot. Running back Rashad Jennings had x-rays after the game and his hand was heavily wrapped.
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
The Giants have won six consecutive games when holding the opposition to fewer than 20 points.
The Giants improved to 50-39-3 in home openers, including 3-4 in MetLife Stadium.
Ben McAdoo joined Dan Reeves (1993) and Joe Alexander (1926) as the only head coaches in franchise history to win their first two games as a Giants head coach.
This was the 30th game in which quarterback Eli Manning led the Giants to victory when they were tied or trailing in the fourth quarter.
Manning’s career yardage total increased to 44,762. That moved him past Drew Bledsoe (44,611) and into 10th place on the NFL’s career list.
The Giants scored on a blocked field goal for the first time since December 7, 2008, when cornerback Kevin Dockery scooped up a blocked attempt by Philadelphia’s David Akers and returned it 71 yards for a score.
PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
The New York Giants have re-signed quarterback Logan Thomas to the Practice Squad and terminated the Practice Squad contract of linebacker Deontae Skinner. Thomas had been cut from the Practice Squad on Tuesday to make room for Skinner.
Thomas was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. The Dolphins claimed Thomas off of waivers from the Cardinals in September 2015 and the Giants claimed him off of waivers from the Dolphins in June 2016.
Skinner was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Patriots (2014-2015) and Eagles (2015-2016), the latter waiving him on August 22.