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Giants 23, Broncos 10: Six winners, and two losers in the Giants’ stunning upset

Who were the winners, and losers, in the Giants’ victory over Denver?

NFL: New York Giants at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I generally don’t like being wrong, but in this case, I’ll take it.

I held out hope that the Giants might pull out a win based on some Eli Manning heroics and little tape on their receivers, but I didn’t see tonight coming. I didn’t see the Giants putting up 148 yards rushing against the league’s best run defense.

I didn’t see the Giants’ winning, and I said as much in my prediction. What I wanted to see (in the predicted loss) was the team playing with heart and guts.

We certainly saw that. So let’s get on with the winners and losers, but I absolutely have to start with the biggest loser of the game, and it ain’t even close.

Loser - Al Michaels

I try to keep these on the field or at least related to the Giants, but Michaels earns a major “Loser” for his attempt at topical humor. Talking about the Giants’ week — which saw them have to deal with the loss of Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, Dwayne Harris, and Olivier Vernon, as well as with the fallout of the Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie situation — Michaels said that the Giant “had a worse week than Harvey Weinstein.”

What. The. Actual. Hell.

Yeah, the Giants had a really bad week. But Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by at least a dozen women. Make no mistake: as much as we hate to see injuries and drama in the locker room, all that absolutely PALES in comparison to what Weinstein did.

He used his position, influence, and power to dehumanize women in one of the most embarrassing and disgusting ways possible. To Weinstein they stopped being people, they were things that were there for his own gratification.

For Michaels to make light of the situation or to compare it to any normal football situation isn’t just “poor taste” or “flippant”, as he claimed in a lame, half-hearted apology 20 minutes later, it is a slap in the face to each and every one of those women.

Al Michaels, you are supposed to be a professional adult, and you should be absolutely ashamed of yourself.


Winner - Orleans Darkwa

A former undrafted free agent, claimed by the Giants off the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad. He dealt with injuries almost constantly since coming to the Giants and has had to be patient and persistent while buried on the depth chart.

But when his number was called against the best run defense in the NFL, in a game EVERYONE thought the Giants would lose, Darkwa answered the bell. In a big way.

21 carries for 117 yards, Darkwa carried the Giants to victory.

He might have left some yardage on the field, but Darkwa should be the Giants’ starting running back from here on out.

Loser - Injuries

My sincerest sympathies to the Denver Broncos.

Seriously. The Giants just went through this last week, and I LOATHE seeing players get injured. Sure, they’re playing a game for our entertainment, but they’re still men trying to earn a living.

They don’t deserve to get hurt. (and anyone thinking about saying Landon Collins is dirty: No. Just stop.)

Injuries suck.

Winner - Giants offensive line

Yeah, who saw this coming? Who saw Eli Manning relatively comfortable in the pocket (sure, he got sacked three times, but they were mostly coverage sacks on a SEVERELY depleted receiving corps) while the Giants put up 148 yards rushing against the Denver Broncos? This is the best run defense in the NFL, the same run defense that held the Dallas Cowboys to a grand total of 50(!) rushing yards.

This one play had almost as many rushing yards as the entire Dallas Cowboys offense:

The offensive line has been criticized seven ways from Sunday, but they showed up big time. Their left guard was playing right tackle, their benched right guard played left guard, and their starting center is in the concussion protocol.

NBC gave Justin Pugh a game ball for how he handled Von Miller (who was largely a non-factor in this game), but all them big guys earned an all-you-can-eat steak dinner.

Winner - Eli Apple and Darian Thompson

The defense is gonna get there’s, but I need to recognize the two second-year defensive backs.

Apple was benched last week and has been victimized at times this year, but he showed up in Denver. He finished with five tackles, and his coverage was air-tight. It seemed as though any time Siemian targeted him the ball was falling incomplete.

Thompson was solid as well.

He was right there for a couple “almost was” plays and he has showed some obviously improved tackling over the last two weeks. It isn’t often that you see a young player’s weaknesses improve in-season, but that’s just what we’re seeing from Thompson. He had an interception last week and was almost there this week.

Keep it up, young bucks.

Winner - The Giants’ defense

The poor play of the Giants’ defense was one of the most surprising stories of the season in New York.

Sunday night they stepped up and make huge play after huge play.

Three (3) sacks, four tackles, and a forced fumble by Jason Pierre-Paul.

A sack, three tackles, and plenty of pressure by Damon Harrison

An interception (returned for a touchdown), a forced fumble on a fourth down, and five tackles (including a goal-line stop) for Janoris Jenkins

An interception by a dinged Landon Collins

The Giants tackled well, they got pressure on the quarterback, they generated turnovers, and they held the Broncos’ third-ranked rush offense (143 yards per game) to just 47 yards.

Again and again the Giants defense reminded us that they do, in fact, have elite talent and they played like it.

Winner- Aldrick Rosas

I criticized Rosas against the Buccaneers, so if I want to be honest (and I do try to be), I would have to give him credit here ... But even if I hadn’t earlier, he would get a mention.

In previous games McAdoo had opted to go for it on fourth down or go for the flop-shot (it’s a golfing term) punt instead of letting the inexperienced kicker try.

In Denver, McAdoo took the points, and Rosas delivered. He had one kick blocked, but he came through with kicks of 43, 51, and 40 yards to keep the Giants scoring when their wounded offense stalled.

Rosas also routinely drilled kicks out of the back of the end-zone, eliminating any chance of a disastrous kick-off return.

Winner - Mike Sullivan

Sully finally got the chance to call the offense, and he did a good job. Hamstrung by the injuries at wide-out, the offense did enough with Sullivan calling plays. They had a solid game-plan, leaning on the run but daring to throw the ball enough to keep the defense honest. I don’t have the numbers yet, but they used plenty of multiple tight end sets (and all of their available tight ends), and different formations.

After the game McAdoo said that it was his idea (for the good of the team) to pass play-calling duties to Sullivan. Well done to him to have the humility to make the sacrifice.