Change the game? Psshhh! The schizophrenic Cardiac Kid New York Giants managed to save their season. At least for another week.
For the first time in years, the Giants played a full 60 minutes of football. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't clean. They didn't come away unscathed, but the Giants finally did what they have needed to do since Week 1.
So while I'm going to mention some other plays and performances, there is one play that was made, that hadn't been made in the Giants' 10 previous times in this situation.
The Giants Finally Commit To The Run
It wasn't pretty. It wasn't "sexy". To a fan base that hasn't been starved for a running game it certainly wouldn't be exciting. However the Giants FINALLY committed to running the ball. They have been speaking for months about "balance" and "finding the hot hand", only to rotate their running backs by series, never giving any more than 12, maybe 15 snaps at the most. The exception being Shane Vereen as the third-down back.
Against the Dolphins, the Giants made the commitment to give Rashad Jennings the ball. The play-calling wasn't always the best, such as when they tried to run him at Ndamukong Suh, behind John Jerry, but they stuck with it.
The payoff finally came with 3:52 left in the game. The Dolphins had two timeouts and the two minute warning to stop the clock and the Giants had a third-and-2 on their own 28-yard line. They handed the ball to Jennings, who had 22 carries for 81 yards, and was clearly the Giants' best running back that night. After a long, hot, humid game, the Dolphins' defense couldn't stand up and the Jennings picked up the first down with a 3-yard run.
That unassuming run set the Giants up to run out the clock and finally win a game on their own terms.
Easy E and Beckham B. Goode
Deep down in Louisiana, close to New Orleans. Out there on the field where the turf is green ... There stood a quarterback named Easy E, throwing to a wide receiver named Beckham B. Goode... Who never learned to do his hair so well, but he could catch a ball just like ringing a bell
There isn't any one play that changed the game, but these two Giants were so good I had to break into song.
It was helped by some (largely) excellent pass protection, but Eli Manning and Odell Beckham were simply superb.
Manning played one of the best games of his career, quickly diagnosing the Dolphins' defense, and accurately spreading the ball around to a variety of receivers. Eight receivers caught at least one pass, with four catching at least five passes. Most impressive? Manning threw for 337 yards and four touchdowns, while only throwing four incompletions.
But it was Odell Beckham who was the star of the night. He now holds the Giants' record for most consecutive games with at least 100 yards receiving, but his biggest catch of the night only went for 6 yards. The Giants had just given up a long touchdown on defense, getting the ball back with 9:37 left in the third quarter. The offense responded with a methodical march down the field over the next four and a half minutes.
The drive culminated in yet another spectacular touchdown catch, this one ripped right from the always well dressed Amani Toomer's playbook.
That catch tied the game, setting Beckham up for the game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Beckham came into the game with a stomach bug. He left the game with 7 catches for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns. Yeah, he's sick.
A Good Word For The Defense
There will be plenty to say about the Giants defense. Not very much of it good.
But I want to take a moment to mention Landon Collins' forced fumble on the opening possession. When a team is on defense to start the game, its okay to hold the receiving team to a field goal. It's a good thing to force them to punt. But the real victory comes when you can force a turnover and steal both opening possessions. It steals momentum and gives you two chances to strike first.
The Giants' defense hasn't been good for much, especially since John Hankins went down to a torn pectoral muscle, but they have been good at separating offenses from the football.
Early in the first quarter, Landon Collins did just that. Ryan Tannehill threw a short pass to Dion Sims, and not only did Collins make the tackle for a loss, but his hard hit separated player from ball. The fumble was quickly recovered by Jason Pierre-Paul. Though the Giants couldn't quite capitalize on the turnover with a touchdown, they did manage to turn it into points with a field goal. These Giants need every point they can get, and this play was a big one.