clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Plays that changed the game in a 27-23 Giants’ victory over the 49ers

Let’s look at how the Giants beat San Francisco

New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Monday night marked the second time this season the New York Giants came away with a win. It ended up as a wild one decided by a couple breaks and a last-minute drive. The end result was a 27-23 win over the San Francisco 49ers and a mostly positive performance for the Giants out of the bye to kick off the second half of the season.

These are some of the most important plays of the game by Win Probability Added (WPA) and Expected Points Added (EPA), per data provided by nflscrapR. Explainers here (WPA) and here (EPA).

Both WPA and EPA presented from the perspective of the offense.

4:12 remaining, first quarter - Forcing a mistake

EPA: minus-2.99 | WPA: minus-7.0 percent

During San Francisco’s win against the Oakland Raiders last Thursday, head coach Kyle Shanahan helped Nick Mullens by scheming up wide open throws. Per Next Gen Stats, Mullens threw no passes into tight coverage (defined as fewer than one yard of separation) against the Raiders. That wasn’t the case against the Giants. Mullens only threw 7.7 percent of his passes into tight coverage on Monday night, but that was enough to force some mistakes. With good protection but nowhere to throw the ball, Mullens fired a long strike toward the sideline to Kendrick Bourne. But Janoris Jenkins was able to break on the ball and tipped it in the air for a B.J. Goodson interception deep in San Francisco territory.

2:48 remaining, first quarter - Odell all alone

EPA: 3.4 | WPA: 10.6 percent

Three plays later, the Giants faced a 3rd-and-8 from the San Francisco 10-yard line. The Giants came out in a 3x1 look with Evan Engram isolated to the right and Bennie Fowler, Odell Beckham, and Sterling Shepard to the trips side on the left. As the middle receiver in the trips, Beckham was able to sneak past the 49ers’ zone coverage and settle down in the back of the end zone for an easy touchdown and a 7-3 lead. The key to this play was a stunt picked up by right guard Jamon Brown, who made his first start for the Giants. Defensive end Cassius Marsh (54) made a late move and Brown was able to pick it up in front of Eli Manning as the quarterback got the ball away.

14:06 remaining, third quarter - Picking on Ogletree

EPA: 2.4 | WPA: 8.4 percent

In the first half, the San Francisco 49ers picked on Landon Collins in coverage, mostly against tight end George Kittle. But the focus of the second half was Alec Ogletree. On San Francisco’s first drive of the second half, the Niners faced a 3rd-and-5 from their 45. San Francisco used motion to bring George Kittle into the backfield and that showed linebacker Tae Davis would follow in coverage, which left Ogletree on Matt Brieda. Brieda ran an angle route out of the backfield and got inside Ogletree for a gain of 19.

8:15 remaining, third quarter - Still picking on Ogletree

EPA: 3.44 | WPA: 10.0 percent

The drive ended with another play designed to pick on Ogletree in coverage. On a 3rd-and-8 from the Giants’ 11, San Francisco rushed out of the huddle and had a four-man bunch to the right of the formation. At the snap, Brieda ran a crossing route that forced Ogletree to run through traffic across the field. He never came close. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin was the only receiver lined up to the left of the formation and he was inline like a tight end. He ran a drag to the right, which carried Janoris Jenkins enough to create more space for Brieda on the left. This play was a master class in pacing and spacing. It gave the 49ers a 20-10 lead right out of halftime.

6:40 remaining, third quarter - Beckham again

EPA: 3.62 | WPA: 12.3 percent

But the Giants would answer on the following drive. After a 51-yard kick return from Corey Coleman and a 30-yard pass to Beckham on first down, the Giants were set up pretty well. A 3-yard run from Saquon Barkley then set up a second-and-7 from the San Francisco 20. The Giants lined up Odell Beckham wide to the left, away from Richard Sherman. They sent Beckham on a go route to the end zone and the pass from Eli Manning was just a touch too far. Beckham got a hand on it because he’s Odell Beckham, but that wasn’t enough to bring it in.

The Giants decided to run the same play on third down. Beckham again got past cornerback Akhello Witherspoon and the pass was in a much better spot — easily caught by Beckham for the touchdown.

0:50 remaining, third quarter - Third down ---> First down

EPA: 3.13 | WPA: 11.4 percent

Late in the third quarter, the 49ers had a 3rd-and-4 from their own 31. That really didn’t bother San Francisco because they had no problem converting on third down Monday night — they finished 8-for-13 (61.5 percent). The 49ers motioned into a 3x1 set with a bunch to the right and Goodwin on the left. The Giants rushed just three and dropped eight into coverage. The rush brought no pressure and Mullens was able to wait for Goodwin to break open in the middle of the field despite the increased number of defenders in coverage.

The play was made worse after the tackle from Ogletree was flagged for unnecessary roughness, which tacked on another 15 yards.

15:00 remaining, fourth quarter - Goodson, good timing

EPA: minus-5.58 | WPA: minus-15.7 percent

Two plays later San Francisco faced a 1st-and-18 from the Giants’ 31, thanks to a Weston Richburg holding penalty. Mullens, with some pressure from Dalvin Tomlinson in his face, had Goodwin open on a crossing route, but threw the pass a little behind the receiver. The ball bounced up off Goodwin’s hands and into the arms of a waiting B.J. Goodson for his second interception of the night.

2:43 remaining, fourth quarter - Engram emerges

EPA: 2.21 | WPA: 15.4 percent

The Giants didn’t take advantage of the interception but still had a chance to win the game at the end of the fourth quarter. At the start of the Giants’ drive, they had a 35.5 percent chance to win. After an incompletion on first down, the Giants broke glass in case of an emergency and sent Evan Engram on a route down the field. Engram gave a quick hesitation three yards down the field, which allowed him to get past the defense and down the sideline for a gain of 31 yards. Engram had five targets in the game and four of them came on this drive.

1:35 remaining, fourth quarter - Barkley breaks free

EPA: 1.19 | WPA: 12.4 percent

After a few more plays and a couple penalties, the Giants faced a 2nd-and-10 from the San Francisco 35. The Giants came out with a spread 3x1 set with Odell Beckham on the left, the same side as Saquon Barkley in the backfield. At the snap, Barkley ran an angle route out of the backfield and two 49ers — defensive end Cassius Marsh (54) and linebacker Malcolm Smith (51) — go to cover the running back. But there’s a miscommunication somewhere and both players go to the outside, which let Barkley break to the middle of the field and run after the catch. The play went for 23 yards and got the Giants down to the 12-yard line.

0:57 remaining, fourth quarter - Shep out

EPA: 3.18 | WPA: 26.6 percent

A 9-yard pass to Evan Engram set up a second-and-1 from the 3-yard line. The Giants came out in a 2x2 look with Fowler and Shepard to the left, Beckham wide to the right, and Engram standing up, but tight on the right side of the line. At the snap, Shepard ran a quick out and beat rookie defensive back D.J. Reed, who never had a chance. Barkley picked up a blitz and Manning was able to float a pass to the open space for Shepard to bring the ball down in bounds for what would be the game-winning touchdown.