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Raiders 24, Giants 17 — things we learned: Geno Smith wasn’t awful, and much more

The Giants didn’t embarrass themselves

NFL: New York Giants at Oakland Raiders
Geno Smith throws a pass vs. the Raiders on Sunday.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest thing we learned about the New York Giants on Sunday came long before the game against the Oakland Raiders, when news broke that Ben McAdoo could be fired on Monday. What, though, did we learn during the game? Here are a few thoughts on that.

Geno Smith wasn’t terrible

Whatever you think of the decision to start him on Sunday, and whatever happens to McAdoo, Smith deserves some credit.

The new Giants’ QB suffered two costly sack/fumbles, but did give a pretty good accounting of himself. He completed 21-of-34 passes for 212 yards, threw a touchdown pass, got the Giants in the end zone twice, and ran three times for 13 yards.

The Giants didn’t embarrass themselves

This was a game the Giants still had a chance to win until Aldrick Rosas’s onsides kick with 1:45 left refused to bounce, skidding along the turf and giving the Giants no chance to recover it. The Giants didn’t quit down 10 points with less than four minutes to play, so there is that.

Eli Apple is buried

Does anyone really believe Eli Apple’s apparent hip injury was really serious enough to keep him out of Sunday’s game? I certainly don’t. Apple showed up on the injury report late on Friday, a day the Giants did little more than a jog-through. Apple has been inactive for three games now. My guess? The 2016 first-round pick might just stay that way, regardless of who coaches the Giants the rest of the season.

The Giants do know where the end zone is

The touchdown they scored on an 11-play, 74-yard drive in the first quarter was their first since they played the San Francisco 49ers three games ago. That dry spell encompassed 25 drives.

Chad Wheeler got hung out to dry

Were the Giants thinking that maybe Geno Smith could just outrun Raider pass rushers on every play? Why they gave the offensive tackles, especially undrafted rookie free agent Chad Wheeler, no help against all-world defensive end Khalil Mack, is unfathomable.

Landon Collins and Brandon Dixon are DBs for a reason

All-Pro safety Landon Collins dropped what should have been a red zone interception that cost the Giants three points. Newly-signed Brandon Dixon dropped one in the third quarter that basically dropped softly out of the sky and hit him in the hands. Some guys are just born to be defensive backs instead of wide receivers.

Speaking of Brandon Dixon

How was this guy without a job until the Giants signed him this week? He held up pretty well in his first NFL game since 2014, competing, making six tackles, forcing a fumble and ending up with a pair of passes defensed. Even though one of those passes defensed should have been a gift interception.

The defense does have some pride

Aside from the early 51-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch, not much to complain about from a Giants’ defense heavily depleted at linebacker and cornerback. Good effort. Mostly good work up from from Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson. Surprisingly good work from the secondary. including Dixon. Other than those dropped interceptions by Dixon and Collins, that is.

Evan Engram really is special

There aren’t a lot of tight ends who can run this route with this kind of precision and quickness.

Engram’s fourth-quarter touchdown catch was his sixth of the season, giving him the Giants’ franchise record for rookie tight ends.

Engram had a rough couple of weeks, but Sunday was a bounce-back game for the team’s first-round pick. He had seven catches in eight targets for 99 yards. His late-game one-handed catch was also pretty darn impressive.