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5 plays that changed the Giants’ victory over Washington

Washington Football Team v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Joe Judge earned his first win as a head coach against the Washington Football Team. The 20-19 victory, with a failed Washington 2-point conversion, propels the Giants from the cellar of 0-5, to an less than stellar 1-5, but baby steps are necessary in a rebuild type of situation. New York came away with a clutch defensive score from “Mr. Irrelevant” Tae Crowder; this play, compounded by a conservative game plan, led to an uninspiring offensive win for the Giants.

Nevertheless, wins are hard to acquire (Giants’ fans are aware of this). Washington won time of possession (in part because of a defensive score and a 10 for 17 third/fourth-down conversion rate). The Football team outgained the Giants 337 to 240, and they had 14, 13, 12, 11, and 10-play drives. It was the battle of two teams methodically moving the football downfield. Luckily for the Giants, they were able to capitalize just outside of the red zone, when the Football Team decided to bring extra rushers.

Play 1 - Blitz and pay

On third and 6, Washington brings six rushers at Daniel Jones and Dion Lewis does an excellent job tracking the linebacker and filling the A-Gap, which gives Jones enough time to throw a dime to Darius Slayton. Washington is in single-high, man coverage (Cover 1) and Foster Moreau does a poor job with his outside leverage; he allows Slayton to win outside from an alignment inside the numbers. Jones recognizes this almost immediately, which leads to the pitch and catch for a score.

Play 2 - Interception?

I went back and forth on one particular part of this play above, and it surrounded Matt Peart. This is a split-flow, play action, pass from a tight YY set. My initial point of contention was that Peart may have failed to recognize his assignment, for he blocked down with Will Hernandez on the 2i-Technique, which left Young alone with the splitting tight end. With play action, teams like to sell it by creating double teams to force second level defenders to read their run keys and bite up. In theory, that’s great, but it leaves the splitting tight end to block the end man on the line of scrimmage (EMOLOS) 1-on-1. This is a problem when the EMOLOS is Chase Young.

The Giants have run split tight end protections vs. Dallas and San Francisco, but neither was from a YY set. In those games, New York used a jet sweep to hold the EMOLOS; the one versus Dallas was a screen to the other side off play action, and the one versus the 49ers had Freeman leak out as well. Both plays had similar defensive alignments in terms of the 2i-technique. Against the Cowboys, Engram was left with the EMOLOS who was forced to be patient because of the jet-action. Against the 49ers, Andrew Thomas did not block down on the 2i-technique to help sell the play action, rather he jump set the EMOLOS, and the splitting H-Back helped with protection to that side. I have an issue with this protection call from Garrett, if Peart did what he was told to do. If he missed an assignment, that’s fine, it happens with young players, and the Giants do seem to run different types of protections against similar looks week to week.

Whatever the issue was with the left side of the protection (I hope they weren’t entrusting Kaden Smith to block Chase Young with no jet-action around to keep Young honest, but it’s plausible), the end result was not good, and it was gravely affected by Young’s pressure on Jones. Young gets through Smith easily, and Jones tries to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone, but it’s “intercepted” *wink* *wink* laugh out loud. Honestly, I don’t see how this was called an interception after review, it makes little sense to me. This was a huge play for Washington because the Giants were driving; they were up 13-10 and they just had a 14 play drive that took up over nine minutes of action. The Giants were still able to escape with a win, thanks in large part to an opportunistic defense.

Play 3 - A relevant play

This is the biggest play of the game in an important situation. On third and 9, Patrick Graham dials up a perfectly executed stunt as part of a four-man pressure package, with Tae Crowder green-dogging McKissic. New York has one defensive lineman on the field and that’s Leonard Williams. Martinez does a really good job shooting the B-Gap and opening up the guard, while Fackrell uses excellent patience to allow Martinez to get upfield just enough to create the pick against the tackle. Fackrell starts wide and loops right around the guard and Martinez to get into the pocket, hit Allen, and force the fumble. The Giants get a fortuitous bounce and Tae Crowder scoops and scores. This four-man, light, pressure package consisted of Leonard Williams, Blake Martinez, Kyler Fackrell, and rookie sixth-round pick Cam Brown.

Plays 4 - Defensive struggles

The Giants defense was solid in 73 snaps, but gave up these two touchdowns which almost proved to be costly. The Giants were in man coverage for both of these plays. The first play is a difficult assignment for Julian Love who is 5-foot-11, with shoes on, against Logan Thomas, who is 6-6 barefoot. Thomas is just outside the numbers and has a ton of space to work with towards the sideline. Allen puts a very nice pass right into the outstretched arms of Thomas for six points. This play was right before the half, and after Washington converted a fourth and 4; originally, the Football Team punted the football, but a running into the kicker penalty gave Washington the opportunity to convert the fourth and 4, rather than punting it on the fourth and 9. That penalty on Austin Johnson was a big reason why Washington was able to score just before the half.

Logan Ryan was beaten on this touchdown to Cam Sims. It seems like Sims ran an out and up route, which forced Ryan’s angle to flatten. Again, the Giants were in man coverage and Washington lined up with a tight BUNCH. This was another good throw by Allen, with a very smooth route (from what we can see on the broadcast film) from Sims. Both of these plays happened with less than a minute in their respective halves.

Play 5 - 2 Points for the win

After scoring the touchdown near the end of the game, RiverBoat Ron Rivera decided to go for two and the win. I respect his decision, but I love how the Giants played in such a high leverage situation. New York is in man coverage, they send four, and they have a strong focus on the middle of the field with Blake Martinez, David Mayo, and Jabrill Peppers watching Kyle Allen and Antonio Gibson. Mayo watches Gibson release towards his side and he’s patient to see his route, which is an arrow/angle inside. Then Mayo and Martinez transition their coverage on Gibson, who is floored by Martinez. Once Allen starts rolling left, Peppers, Lawrence and Martinez cut his angle off, while Mayo transitions back to Gibson. This is excellent communication and awareness from all of the defenders, while all the secondary pieces do a great job in man coverage, especially Bradberry and Ryan, who are towards Kyle Allen’s path. Dexter Lawrence and Peppers also do a great job ensuring that Allen can’t pick up the two points with his legs. An overall great effort by Patrick Graham’s defensive unit.

Final thoughts

It may not have been the prettiest win, but it’s a win and that’s incredibly important for this Giants’ coaching staff and their players. The defense was opportunistic and stepped up when they really had to, despite the two touchdowns to end each half. The offense was conservative by nature, and Jones only had to throw the ball 19 times, but we don’t exactly want these Washington pass rushers to pin their ears back against this offensive line. The conservative nature was one reason why Washington only had one sack against the Giants; it’s the byproduct of the state that the Giants’ offense currently inhabits. A win’s a win, but the Giants can’t waste time celebrating because they have a short week against another divisional opponent in the Eagles, who will be without running back Miles Sanders and tight end Zach Ertz.