Giants 24, Bills 10. Probably the first victory by the New York Giants in a game they weren't supposed to win since they defeated the Green Bay Packers in Week 12 of the 2012 season. Yes, 2012. Let's review the biggest victory the Giants have had in a long time in our traditional "Kudos & Wet Willies" style.
First, a quick team-wide "Kudos." I wrote about this on Sunday, but it bears repeating. This is a flawed team with a couple of obvious deficiencies and very little margin for error, but it's a tough, resilient, hard-working team giving head coach Tom Coughlin maximum effort. It's a frustrating team because it will sometimes do things that make you scratch your head. It also, to use Coughlin's word, a team that has "grit" and is worth pulling for.
Now, on to this week's regularly scheduled "Kudos & Wet Willies."
Kudos to ...
Rashad Jennings -- The veteran running back made the late-game offensive play the Giants have been looking for all season on Sunday, the play that head coach Tom Coughlin said "gave us the opportunity to take a deep breath." One week after Coughlin said his running backs needed to step through some arm tackles, Jennings broke a tackle at midfield, high-stepped past the tackle attempt of linebacker Preston Brown and then simply tossed away safety Bacarri Rambo en route to a score that gave the Giants a two-touchdown lead with 7:42 to play. This, incidentally, was the first receiving touchdown of Jennings' six-year career. Perhaps folks like me shouldn't be quite so hasty to call for Jennings to play less and Shane Vereen to play more.
Kerry Wynn -- As I wrote after the game on Sunday, Wynn was an absolute monster against the run. He had a team-high eight tackles, including a touchdown-saving fourth-quarter tackle of Tyrod Taylor at the 1-yard line, and two tackles for loss. I could give Wynn a "Kwillie," since his pass rush was non-existent (-3.4 in 47 pass rush snaps), but his run defense was so good, and so important, he stays in the"Kudos" category.
Prince Amukamara -- The guy isn't Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman, and there are a handful of receivers in the league he hasn't been able to handle one-on-one, but the guy is a darn good football player. Amukamara's best attribute is his toughness, his willingness to be physical. That showed up when he ripped the ball out of Robert Woods' hands Sunday, then recovered the fumble.
The Giants' run defense -- Do you remember the days of long ago, like 2014, when the Giants couldn't defend the run? Well, they can now. The Bills rushed for just 55 yards, almost 100 yards less than their NFL-best average of 152.7 yards they owned entering the game. The 55 yards was the lowest total by a Giants opponent since Green Bay had the same total on Nov. 17, 2013.
The Giants have the league's best run defense at the season's quarter pole, leading the league in yards allowed per game (69.8) and yards per rushing attempt (3.1).The pass rush is still MIA too often, but the run defense gives the Giants something to hang their hats on.
Devon Kennard -- Chris already sung Kennard's praises for the interception he made Sunday. Want to know what is even more impressive? Kennard said he never actually saw the ball in the air. He was running down the sideline with Buffalo tight end Charles Clay and said "I just saw his (Clay's) eyes get big and tried to make a play on the ball and came down with it."
Kennard wasn't done there. He batted down a pass, two run stops, four total tackles and the highest PFF grade of any Giants' defensive player, a +4.0.
Nikita Whitlock -- Thirteen snaps at fullback. Twenty-three snaps on special teams. Eight snaps at defensive tackle, and his first career sack. Whitlock is a unique player, and his willingness -- and obvious ability -- to contribute in every phase of the game is becoming important to the Giants. It is also becoming emblematic of the blue-collar, gritty team this edition of the Giants is turning into.
Dwayne Harris -- Victor Cruz? Preston who? James who? The Giants finally got production from a slot receiver on Sunday as Harris had the best receiving day of his five-year career. Harris caught a career-high five passes for 51 yards, including a 21-yard first-quarter touchdown.
Ereck Flowers -- I don't care what the Pro Football Focus numbers say about Flowers' performance on Sunday. They are, honestly, irrelevant. The impressive fact is that Flowers gutted his way through the game, did his job and helped the Giants win. The rookie left tackle missed the Week 3 game against the Washington Redskins with a left ankle injury, then came out of Sunday's game after just one play, having aggravated that iinjury. He was announced as "questionable" to return. He did return, however, and stayed in the lineup the rest of the game. Playing with one healthy leg Flowers contributed to a solid first-half running effort and held Buffalo pass-rushing specialist Jerry Hughes without so much as a single pressure of Eli Manning.
"I respect the heck out of that," Tom Coughlin said.
By the way, that grade for Flowers was actually really good. Flowers ended up with a +1.5 score.
Wet Willies to ...
Will Tye -- C'mon, man! I really hate to do this to the kid, but I have to. Making his NFL debut after being added to the roster on Saturday, Tye was wide open on second-and-1 at the Bills' 45-yard line in the third quarter, but dropped a perfect pass from Manning. The Giants failed to convert on third down and ended up punting. Convert there, go down and score and maybe the Giants put that game away even earlier.
Delay of game penalties -- Manning had two of them on Sunday, and a messy six-yard loss when he was trying to call timeout to avoid another and Weston Richburg went ahead and snapped the ball off his shin while he was turned away. Honestly, I don't get. I know Manning is doing a lot of things at the line of scrimmage, but at some point you've got to stop directing, stop changing, pay attention to the clock and get the blasted snap off. This kind of stuff shouldn't be an issue with a 12-year veteran quarterback.
All those yellow flags -- Did it seem like Sunday's game took forever? Well, it did. It took three hours and 19 minutes, thanks to the ridiculous total of 28 penalties. The Bills compiled the seemingly impossible total of 17 penalties for 135 yards, and the not-so-perfect Giants contributed 11 for 85 yards. The 28 penalties is the highest combined total number of penalties of any game during the Tom Coughlin era as Giants' coach.
Kwillies to ...
Josh Brown -- Missed the first extra point of his three-year tenure with the Giants, but you can't kill him for that as it was from 38 yards following a false start penalty on Geoff Schwartz. He made a 47-yard field goal and did get a touchback on his final kickoff of the game. He hit two awful kickoffs, though, one that barely reached the 20-yard line and another that barely got off the ground. What's up with that?
The Giants' running game -- Terrific in the first half, getting 64 yards on 15 carries (4.3 yards per carry). The Giants hammered away at the middle of the Buffalo line. It was pretty much, we see you, Marcell Dareus, and we are just going to run over you. The Giants got only 37 yards on 13 second-half carries, just 2.8 yards per attempt.
Who did I leave out, Giants fans? What do you agree or disagree with? Let me know in the comments.