Maybe you agree with Chris that Sunday was a pyrrhic victory for the New York Giants. Maybe you want to give it a ‘Wet Willie.’ You know I think winning is always a good thing. Regardless, let’s get to our traditional ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ game review.
Kudos to ...
Daniel Jones — Do you need any more evidence that this young man was a) worth the sixth overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft and b) going to be an outstanding NFL quarterback?
Jones put together a never-before-seen performance by an NFL rookie quarterack on Sunday — 350+ yards passing (352 to be exact), five touchdowns, no interceptions.
His coach called his effort “pretty heroic.”
Saquon Barkley said Jones will be the league’s “best quarterback someday.”
“He a dog. He has that mentality,” Barkley said. “When they scored, I was like, ’Let’s call heads,’ and we get the rock and he already said we’d win the game. That’s the mindset he has and that’s the approach he has with everything, not with football but with outside football.”
I mentioned this to Mark Schofield Sunday night and I will write it here. There is something kind of cool about your quarterback all dirty and grass stained, limping around, throwing lasers and leading a victory.
When he plays like he did Sunday, it’s hard not to be excited about his future.
Saquon Barkley — Welcome back, Saquon! Barkley on Sunday finally looked like the player who won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018. Explosive, decisive, impossible for a single defender to bring down in the open field. With 189 rushing yards and 90 receiving yards, including touchdowns of 67 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving, Barkley set a franchise record with 279 total yards.
Maybe more importantly, he and Jones offered a glimpse of what the future might look like for the offense when both are at the tops of their games.
Jones called Barkley a “special player.” Tight end Kaden Smith said Barkley was “amazing” vs. the Redskins.
“He hit all of the small holes and he hit them hard and would break free,” Smith said. “I was just trying to open a little hole and he did a great job of finding it.”
Kaden Smith — What a find by the Giants on the waiver wire! Smith had six catches in eight targets, two for touchdowns including the game winner. He isn’t speedy, but he’s sure-handed and appears to be a better blocker than thought when the Giants claimed him. He has 23 receptions now in eight games.
Cody Core — Is there anyone out there still wondering why the Giants cut Alonzo Russell and replaced him with Core? This guy is an utterly phenomenal gunner. He downed punts by Riley Dixon twice at the 1-yard line, though Michael Thomas’ holding penalty wrecked the first one. Dixon probably deserves ‘Kudos’ too, because it’s not his fault Thomas screwed up and then the Giants’ punt blockers couldn’t do their jobs.
Adrian Peterson — I don’t often include opponents in the ‘K&WW,’ but credit where it’s due. Not only is Peterson still a really good NFL running back at 34, long past the normal running back expiration date, but his rushing touchdown on Sunday pushed him past Walter Payton and into fourth place all-time in rushing touchdowns with 111. The Giants can only hope that Barkley is still as good at 34 as Peterson is now, and that he is still a Giant.
Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate — Shepard is like your favorite pair of slippers. He is just a comfortable target for Giants’ quarterbacks. Sunday, six catches in six targets for 76 yards. He had a 23-yard touchdown catch early and two catches in overtime, including a third-and-7 23-yarder that really got the Giants started. It sometimes looks messy with Tate, but he always seems to end up making big plays. He had six catches for 96 yards on Sunday, including a 32-yarder on third-and-10 with the Giants protecting a one touchdown lead midway through the fourth quarter. He also made a terrific catch at the end of regulation that gave the Giants a chance at a Hail Mary throw.
Lorenzo Carter — What the Giants got from Carter on Sunday is what they had hoped to get all season long. This was the best pass-rushing day of Carter’s two-year career as he had career-bests of 1.5 sacks and four quarterback hits.
Corey Ballentine — I debated giving the entire secondary a ‘WW,’ but in the end landed on just giving one to the rookie cornerback from Division II Washburn. Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum each found success on Sunday throwing to all areas of the Giants’ secondary, but it was once again Ballentine in the slot who was the real weak link.
The Giants wouldn’t have needed overtime if Ballentine hadn’t committed defensive pass interference in the end zone on a fourth-and-goal throw from Keenum to Steven Sims with :41 left. Ballentine had position and the pass was never going to be completed if he simply held his ground rather than grab Sims.
It wasn’t just that play, however. Ballentine bit on the run action on a Washington trick play in the third quarter, opening up Chris Thompson for an 11-yard completion. Sims smoked him for a 7-yard fourth-quarter touchdown.
Ballentine is an athletic, talented kid. His transition from outside to slot cornerback, though, hasn’t gone well.
As an aside, DeAndre Baker gave up some completions on Sunday but he competed hard against outstanding fellow rookie Terry McLaurin and made his share of good plays, as well.
Punt protection — First, Michael Thomas messes up gorgeous work by Dixon and Core to down a punt at the 1-yard line by bear-hugging a Washington rusher for a holding penalty. Then, on the re-kick, the left side of the protection collapses, the punt gets blocked and Washington gets the ball at the Giants’ 17-yard line — 71 yards from where they should have had it.
That sequence began the Redskins’ fourth-quarter comeback from a 14-point deficit.