It has been a long time since I have been able to put together a ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ like this one, but this version of K&WW will be a rare ‘Wet Willie-less’ edition. There are some things to quibble about, sure, but the New York Giants’ first victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, one that puts the Giants smack-dab in the middle of the playoff race, is not time for quibbling.
It’s a time for celebrating an accomplishment the fan base has been waiting for. So, let’s do that.
Kudos to ...
Wayne Gallman — Gallman says he is “just going out there being myself and showing who Wayne Gallman is.” Well, whoever this version of Wayne Gallman is it’s the best version we have seen in the 2017 fourth-round pick’s four seasons with the Giants. Gallman’s stat line (18 carries, 53 yards, 2.9 yards per carry, 2 short touchdown runs) doesn’t tell the story of how good he was on Sunday.
The 26-year-old ran hard against the Eagles, as he has for weeks now. He ran decisively. He got every possible yard out of each of his runs. Gallman is averaging 4.0 yards per carry on the season (69 carries, 275 yards) and has 5 touchdowns.
Joe Judge says the Giants have “found their identity” when it comes to running the ball. Gallman is a big part of that identity.
Daniel Jones — The second-year quarterback went 21 of 28 for 244 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass. He also ran for a team-best 64 yards, including a 34-yard score. Jones has had bigger statistical games. He threw 5 touchdown passes in a game last season, and twice threw 4 touchdown passes.
Sunday, though, might have been the best Jones has played as a pro. It was easily the best he has played this season. He did not come close to throwing an interception. He did not come close to putting the ball on the ground, despite carrying it nine times and being sacked three times. No one can say he turned down opportunities to get the ball down the field as Jones connected on several big plays in the second half. Judge said the quarterback made a number of “big-time throws.”
Darius Slayton — It looked like the Giants might have to play without their best wide receiver when Slayton went out with a shoulder injury after his first catch of the day. He returned, though, and it’s a good thing he did. Slayton ended up with five catches for 93 yards.
The second-year wide receiver had a fourth-quarter drop with the Giants leading 21-17 that forced the Giants to punt and had to have Giants fans thinking about the Evan Engram drop three weeks earlier. Slayton more than atoned, though, with a brilliant adjustment to catch a 40-yard rainbow from Jones with 4:10 left in the game, setting up a Graham Gano field goal that gave the Giants a two-score lead they would not relinquish.
Riley Dixon — There was a time not long ago that Dixon’s leg strength was a question mark. No longer. Not after a 71-yard punt that was almost all air and only a few yards of roll. Dixon punted four times, averaged 53.3 yards per punt, had all four punts downed inside the Philadelphia 20-yard line and did not allow a single return yard. That is a good day’s work.
Graham Gano — Clutch fourth-quarter field goals from 35 and 44 yards, and Gano has now made 20 straight. His only miss this season came from 57 yards. Oh, and Gano landed himself a fancy new contract that will run through 2023.
Giants’ run-blocking — The Giants have now run for more than 100 yards in five straight games and in six of their last seven. Some of that has to do with Daniel Jones. The run-blocking of the offensive line, as well as players like tight end Kaden Smith and wide receiver Austin Mack has, though, been outstanding. I have said for years that if you can block you can run successfully, no matter who the back is. The Giants are proving that the past couple of weeks.
James Bradberry — Why on earth would Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson design a fourth-and-10 fourth-quarter play Philly needed to convert to challenge Bradberry? Anyway, that’s what Pederson chose to do on fourth-and-10 from the Giants’ 36 with his team down 7 points with 4:56 to play. Bradberry denied the pass, intended for Jalen Reagor.
Third-down defense — The Eagles went 0 for 9 on third-down conversion attempts. It’s true that part of that was because Philadelphia spent a lot of time unable to get out of its own way on Sunday, but part of that was also due to the defensive calls of Patrick Graham and the excellent execution of the Giants’ defenders. For years, we have been complaining about the inability of the Giants’ defense to get off the field on third down. Well, you can’t do it any better than that. Sunday marked the first time since Oct. 25, 2010 against the Dallas Cowboys that a Giants opponent did not convert a third down.
Jabrill Peppers — The safety/punt returner had his best game in several weeks. He was active defensively with 7 tackles, 2 for loss, a half-sack and a quarterback hit. Peppers also averaged 11.8 yards on four punt returns, including a 20-yarder.