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Rhett Ellison, New York Giants (September 23, 2018)

Rhett Ellison – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 27 – HOUSTON TEXANS 22…
The New York Giants may have saved their season on Sunday with a 27-22 victory over the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston. It was the team’s first win on the season and the Giants are now 1-2.

Some drama began before the game was even played as it was revealed that the Giants had benched right tackle Ereck Flowers for Chad Wheeler. The Giants will also have to hold their breath as tight end Evan Engram left the game with a knee injury and he will undergo an MRI on Monday.

Statistically, the game was pretty even. The Texans out-gained the Giants in total net yards 427 to 379 and both teams accrued 21 first downs. But the Giants won the turnover battle 2-0 and were 3-of-4 (75 percent) in red zone opportunities. The Giants also held the ball 10 minutes more than the Texans as the Giants out-gained them in rushing yards 114 to 59.

The Texans received the ball to start the game. They drove the ball 69 yards in 11 plays to set up a 23-yard field goal. To the defense’s credit, they held Houston to three points after they had set up a 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line.

The Giants responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown run by running back Saquon Barkley. Quarterback Eli Manning kept the possession alive with two 3rd-down conversions to his wideouts. The Giants forced a three-and-out on the Texans’ second possession and the Giants added to their lead with a 44-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas after a 9-play, 58-yard drive. Giants 10 – Texans 3.

The Giants’ defense kept up the pressure on the Texans’ third possession, causing another three-and-out. The Giants then had their third scoring drive in a row by driving 64 yards in 10 plays to set up Rosas from 30 yards out. Big plays on the drive included a 19-yard catch by tight end Evan Engram and a 24-yard run by Saquon Barkley. Houston again went three-and-out and the Giants appeared to take firm control of the game with a 6-play, 71-yard drive that included a 17-yard pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard, a 30-yard pass to wide receiver Odell Beckham, and a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rhett Ellison. Giants 20 – Texans 3 with the Giants scoring on all four of their first-half possessions.

The Texans did manage to add three points right before halftime by driving the ball 65 yards in nine plays to set up a 28-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.

At the half, the Giants led 20-6.

The game got uncomfortably tight in the second half as the Giants’ offense was shut down for most of the rest of the game. The Giants were held to three first downs and 30 yards on their first four drives of the half, all ending with punts. Houston also cut into the lead again on their first possession in the 3rd quarter with a 54-yard field goal.

New York’s defense kept the game from getting tighter by forcing two turnovers. Defensive end Kerry Wynn forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Donte Deayon at the Giants’ 25-yard line. But Houston drove the ball deep again on their subsequent possession, reaching the Giants’ 8-yard line before a penalty and sack by defensive end B.J. Hill pushed the ball back to the 25-yard line. Then inside linebacker Alex Ogletree made an athletic interception in the end zone, resulting in a touchback.

After yet another three-and-out by the Giants, Houston drove 67 yards in seven plays with quarterback Deshaun Watson throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass with under eight minutes to play. The Texans failed on their 2-point conversion and the Giants led 20-15.

At this critical moment in the ball game, the New York offense finally came back to life. Manning threw a 23-yard pass to Shepard, a 17-yard pass to Ellison, and a 21-yard pass to Barkley. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-goal, Manning found Shepard over the middle for a 7-yard touchdown. The Giants now led 27-15 with just over two minutes to play. The Texans did make the game appear tighter than it was late by scoring one final touchdown with one second left.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 25-of-29 for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions for a 132.3 quarterback rating. His top targets were Beckham (9 catches for 109 yards) and Shepard (7 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown). Barkley gained 82 rushing yards and one touchdown on 17 carries and also caught three passes for 35 yards.

Defensively, the Giants held what had been the League’s #1 rushing attack to 59 yards, with Houston running backs only gaining 23 yards on 14 carries (the other 36 yards were by the quarterback). The Giants also picked up three sacks, one each by Hill, linebacker Lorenzo Carter, and defensive lineman Mario Edwards. Wynn had a strong game with five tackles, a tackle for a loss, a pass defense, and a forced fumble.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), cornerback Eli Apple (groin), wide receiver Kaelin Clay (ankle), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, center Evan Brown, cornerback Michael Jordan, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Tight end Evan Engram left the game with a knee injury and did not return. He was wearing a knee brace after the game will undergo an MRI on his knee on Monday. “We don’t know how bad it is yet,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “We’ll just have to see.”

Running back Saquon Barkley (knee) left the game but returned.

Cornerback Antonio Hamilton injured his groin in warm-ups.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (Video)
  • LG Will Hernandez (Video)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)
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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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