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Giants 21, Bengals 20: What do snap counts, grades tell us?

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What can we learn from the snap counts, and what did PFF think of the Giants’ efforts?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants came out of Monday Night Football with their sixth win of the 2016 season. It wasn’t pretty, more often than not it was nerve-wracking. But it's the Giants, and that’s just how they roll.

So then, who played in the win and how did they contribute to the win?

Offense

Eli Gonna Eli - The Giants quarterback (unsurprisingly) played all of the offensive snaps, and it was a typically “Eli” night. When he was good, he was very good. For the most part he was accurate with the ball and quick with his reads. However, he was plagued by drops and a couple poorly run routes.

And in typical “Eli” fashion, he got overly aggressive and had a pair of bad interceptions. The defense rose up to clean up his mess, but they still happened.

However, the Giants’ signal caller still had a good game overall. He complete 28-of-44 for 240 yards, 3 TDs and 2 interceptions, good enough for a 71.4 grade.

Eli’s best work came on two pivotal downs. The first was the Giants’ fourth and goal from the three yard line. McAdoo put the ball — and game — in Eli’s hands, and he delivered a strike to rookie receiver Sterling Shepard for the go-ahead, and game winning, touchdown.

At the end of the game, the Giants were trying to close out the game on the ground, and Eli’s dissected the defense and put Rashad Jennings in the right position to pick up 9 yards on a third-and-6.

It was already a run play, but Manning saw the shift in the Bengals defense and shifted the play from the left side to the right. It was the right call and led to the Giants being able end the game on their terms.

Running Game Shows Up - The Giants were finally able to mount a running game, and just in time to win a crucial game. With the rest of the NFC East inning, the Giants needed to win Monday night just to keep control of their own destiny.

Improbably, it was the running game that stepped up to close the game out. It didn’t look like they would have a chance of running anywhere by the Giants’ second drive. With Justin Pugh sidelined by a sprained knee, Brett Jones got the start, only to be ruled out with a strained calf. The platoon of Marshall Newhouse (at guard and tight end) and Adam Gettis filled in at left guard. The line was in disarray for much of the first half and Geno Atkins made a good run at taking the game over, but eventually they settled down.

Lead by sophomore tackle Ereck Flowers (77.2 grade per PFF), and Weston Richburg (70.7), the Giants’ pass protection gave Manning enough time to move the offense down the field, albeit in fits and starts. They also finally began to open holes for Rashad Jennings. Jennings, arguably the best pass protecting running back in the NFL, got the lion’s share of the offensive snaps (45) to help keep Eli upright, but he ultimately responded with some excellent carries, including carries of 9 and 25 yards to put the game away. His efforts (87 yards total, 5.8ypc) earned him a 72.5 grade from PFF.

Rookie Paul Perkins (30 snaps) once again saw his share of snaps increase over the last game.

Odell B. Good - Odell Beckham Jr. might not have put up stellar stats, but he had himself a great game. Playing every single offensive snap — and one defensive snap — Beckham was targeted 11 times by Manning, catching 10 for 97 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals just didn’t have an answer for Beckham, and he came up with clutch catch after clutch catch, and one of the most impressively run touchdown routes I’ve seen in a while.

One might even say it was... Thrilling?

Most importantly for the offense, Beckham was moved around like he was in the 2014 and 2015 seasons:

With Sterling Shepard having a rookie moment and Roger Lewis having a rookie game, the Giants needed Beckham to step up. He, along with Will Tye (59 snaps, 5 catches, 53 yards) and Jerell Adams (15 snaps, 3 catches, 18 yards, 1 TD) helped keep the offense moving.

Defense

Defensive Ends Dominate - Many keys have been tapped regarding the Giants defensive ends. They’ve played too much, they aren’t playing well enough, they’re paid too much... All of that went out the window against Cincy. Both Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul had monster nights, playing 56 and 57 snaps respectively — interestingly enough, this was probably their lightest workload of the season despite only missing a combined total of three snaps. They were the Giants highest graded defensive players, with Vernon getting an 83.6 and JPP being graded at 83.2. Vernon notched 10 tackles and a sack, while JPP had five tackles and a pair of passes defensed.

Both players were terrific, harassing Andy Dalton all game long, and playing fantastic run defense as well.

Eli Apple Rebounds - A.J. Green had been one of the top four receivers in the NFL, leading the league in receptions through the first nine weeks. Getting the start after a poor performance sent him to the bench, Eli Apple rose to the challenge. Apple was one of three defensive players (along with Janoris Jenkins and Landon Collins) to play every single snap (58), and PFF graded him with a 79.8, the third highest grade on the defense. In fact (per PFF) neither he nor Jackrabbit (Jenkins) gave up a reception longer than 14 yards, and just 3.5 yards per target.

The Giants’ rookie barely had his name called, and for a defensive back, that’s a good thing.

Landon Collins ... Time To Call Him LC? - Landon Collins DID have his name called, and it’s become a regular occurrence when the Giants’ defense is on the field. The highlight, of course, was his interception (which was promptly given back by Eli Manning). He had another heart-stopping return, but it was nullified by a brushed foot before he hit the ground while making the pick. However, he had 57 other defensive snaps, notching five tackles and touchdown saving coverage on Tyler Eifert. Collins once again made PFF’s Top-5 with a 79.1, just below his game in London.