New York Giants 40, Washington Redskins 16. So much praise to hand out after the Giants’ most lopsided victory since a 36-7 win over the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 7, 2014. Can it all fit in one “Kudos & Wet Willies” post? Let’s find out.
Kudos to ...
Saquon Barkley — What more is there that we can say about the incredible rookie running back?
Maybe Eli Manning said all that needs to be said:
“He’s a tremendous player, I think we’re starting to figure out that offense runs through him a little bit.”
Manning also added this:
Barkley ran for 170 yards on just 14 carries (12.1 yards per attempt), including a 78-yard touchdown and a 52-yard just-for-fun run. He is the first rookie in franchise history to crack 1,000 rushing yards (1,124) and has a franchise rookie record 14 touchdowns, surpassing Odell Beckham Jr. and Bill Paschal (13). He also has 1,753 total yards from scrimmage.
Eli Manning admitted in the post game that the offense runs through Barkley now. Barkley also embodies the “play for each other” attitude coach Pat Shurmur has been preaching. After uncharacteristically dropping a pass in the first quarter when the game was still scoreless, Barkley apologized to his teammates.
“After the drop I went to those guys, I went to the line, the quarterback and the wide receivers and said ‘that series is on me, I’m going to make up for it. I promise you guys.’ And we were able to do that,” Barkley said.
In my view, not only does the offense run through Barkley now but this is his team. He makes them go, and his self-less attitude is exactly what coach Pat Shurmur is looking for.
Eli Manning — If you wish the Giants had run Manning out of town already, or are fervently hoping they do it at the end of this season, you might not want to look at the numbers. Not only Sunday, but for the past several weeks. Playing the role of supporting actor to Barkley — and Beckham when he’s healthy — Manning has been thriving with improved blocking and an explosive, and efficient, running game.
The Giants have now surpassed 30 points in three of their last four games. They reached 40 points on Sunday (in three quarters) for the first time since their 52-49 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 1, 2015.
Manning went a solid 14-of-22 for 197 yards and three touchdowns. He had a 132.2 passer rating. His 6-yard scoring pass to Bennie Fowler was perfectly placed. So, too, was a 30-yard rainbow to Corey Coleman that made him the seventh quarterback in NFL history to surpass 55,000 passing yards. Protected better and asked to complement, not carry, the offense the 37-year-old is showing that he can still play. He is also doing a better job of hanging int the pocket when pressured to deliver some throws.
Manning is also enjoying it. Uncharacteristically he even mugged for the cameras a couple of times when Giants’ offensive players struck an end zone pose for photographers after touchdowns with the game in hand.
“You know, it’s fun. Those don’t happen all that often in the NFL, where everything is clicking and the defense is getting turnovers. Offensively, hitting a lot of big plays in the run game and a couple in the pass game, scoring in the red zone,” Manning said. “Those things, they don’t happen much so you’ve got to take advantage of it. It’s fun to be in those type of games where everything seems to be working.”
What we have seen the past few weeks is what the Giants envisioned on offense. Shurmur said after the game that “years are connected.” Connect the dots from that and it’s getting harder to see the Giants tossing away the progress they are making by starting over with a new quarterback.
Giants’ receivers — To be honest, my initial thought was simply to give Sterling Shepard a “Kudos.” Forget the measly two catches for 17 yards. He gets one for the toughness he showed blocking on Barkley’s big runs. That’s winning football, and the Giants haven’t had enough of it in recent years.
There were, though, several receivers who contributed to a collective effort that helped the Giants replace Odell Beckham Jr. They all deserve recognition for the contributions they made.
- Fowler had a 6-yard touchdown catch on a crossing route that looked a little like the one Beckham scored on against the Chicago Bears.
- Russell Shepard worked himself in-between defenders for an 11-yard touchdown catch.
- Coleman got deep for a 30-yard catch.
- Evan Engram showed his speed with three catches for 77 yards, most of the damage coming after he caught the ball.
The defense as a whole (for three quarters) — There are soooo many players, and plays, worthy of being highlighted that I’m not going to try to pick and choose. Let’s go through it.
- A run defense that held Adrian Peterson to 16 yards on 10 carries.
- A pass rush that generated five sacks. Olivier Vernon had 1.5, Lorenzo Cater, Josh Maura and safety Sean Chandler had one, and Kareem Martin split a sack with Vernon. By the way, Martin has played well in recent weeks. Sunday, he had the half-sack, tipped the pass Curtis Riley turned into a pick six and had three quarterback hits.
- A trio of interceptions, Riley’s pick six, another one for Alec Ogletree and one for Michael Thomas. I’d say Riley’s pick six was easy, but after what we saw last week I’m not going there. As for Ogletree, that’s five interceptions and now you have to wonder if he will actually get a play at tight end. By the way, I hope you appreciate Thomas for being both a quality player and quality person.
The Giants’ defense — for three quarters — did exactly what it was supposed to do. That was take advantage of a weakened Washington offensive line and a quarterback who really had no business starting an NFL game.
Giants’ special teams — Aside from a missed extra point by Aldrick Rosas the special teams were — in what is becoming the norm — excellent. Jawill Davis averaged 10.2 yards on punt returns and had a 23-yarder. Quadree who? Riley Dixon actually averaged more net yards punting (43.3) than yards per punt (43.0). For the second straight week the Giants downed a punt at the 2-yard line, with Antonio Hamilton making the play. Rosas made his only two field-goal attempts.
Wet Willies to ...
The Giants’ fourth quarter defense — What ... was ... that? Until Thomas mercifully restored some order with an end zone interception late in the final quarter the Giants were making Josh Johnson — yes, the ex-Giant who hadn’t thrown a pass that counted since 2013 and had been with the Redskins for four days — look like Randall Cunningham or Michael Vick.
The Giants gave up 16 points and 192 yards of offense in the fourth quarter after giving up zero points and less than 100 yards in the first three quarters. The Giants basically shut it down in the final quarter. Everybody got to play and some guys (Kamrin Moore I’m looking at you) showed why they haven’t been playing.