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Four things we learned in the Giants’ second win over Washington

At least the Giants can beat one team

New York Giants v Washington Football Team Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The New York Giants picked up their second win of the season, and their second win over the Washington Football Team, surviving a 23-20 game which had no business being as close as it was.

The game was certainly not a pristine example of professional football being played at the highest level.

It was slow, sloppy, and filled with penalties and unforced errors, as well as the kind of injury you never want to see in a game. Ultimately the Giants did enough to capitalize on Washington’s errors without being hurt by their own mistakes.

But it was also a win for a team which has had precious few of them lately. So what can we learn from the game?

Wayne Gallman and Austin Mack shine

If we learned two things this week, it’s that Wayne Gallman should never not be on the field and Golden Tate is welcome to ride the pine.

Gallman had a strong game a week ago against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and we observed that he should have earned himself a larger role in the offense. He got that this week, running the ball 14 times, picking up 68 yards and a touchdown, as well as 1 reception (2 targets). As we said last week, Gallman’s running style works well with Jason Garrett’s schemes, wasting little time behind the line of scrimmage and always falling forward for extra yardage. Alfred Morris had a good day making the most of missed tackles, but Gallman’s burst between the tackles gives the Giants’ offense a bit of the speed and urgency it otherwise lacks.

And then there’s UDFA receiver Austin Mack, who made a splash with Golden Tate left in New Jersey. Tate has been sour regarding his diminished role in the Giants’ offense, and after Mack’s 5-target, 4-reception, 72-yard performance, Tate can’t prove his worth through his absence. If anything, Mack’s day gives the Giants have an excuse to phase the aging, expensive, and unhappy veteran out of their offense altogether. Mack showed he can play and make plays when the opportunity is there.

The Giants wish they could play Washington every week

If there’s one thing the Giants know about themselves, it’s that they can beat Washington. So far the Giants have 6 wins in the last two seasons, and four of them have come against Washington. Whether it’s an out-and-out beating or just escaping with a win, somehow Washington always finds a way to lose to the Giants.

This time the Football Team doomed itself with some embarrassingly ugly play in the first half. They got off to a good start with a big stop on fourth down, but promptly gave the ball back on their first offensive play. Nobody seemed to want to recover the ball, with Logan Thomas (apparently) forgetting how to fall over, and the ball rolling a ridiculous 36 yards downfield before the Giants managed to fall on it.

Then they gave the ball right back again with a fumble on a punt return. And then again just before the end of the first half when J.D. McKissik slipped, letting Blake Martinez be Johnny On The Spot for the interception.

And at the end of the game, Washington was moving the ball well on the Giants’ defense. Alex Smith was playing some very efficient and effective football for most of the third and fourth quarters. It looked as though Washington was on pace to engineer an incredible 17-point comeback.

At least until Washington was driving to tie or possibly win the game. Then he heaved a pass that looked more like a half-court buzzer-beater and completely missed Logan Ryan in coverage after the Giants gave the ball right back.

All told, Washington did everything they could to lose this game. Their offense was hamstrung by unforced errors, a pair of fumbles, and a trio of interceptions, while their defense was spotty at best for most of the game.

It’s remarkable that the Giants only managed to eke out a 3-point win despite dominating the time of possession and finishing with a +5 turnover differential. Good thing they were playing Washington.

Good for Logan Ryan

We were all taken by the story of how a Giants’ trainer might have saved the life of Ryan’s wife. That’s a great story on its own, and certainly constitutes a great week. But to then get the final interception to seal the game is a rare cherry on top for Ryan.

No deep analysis here, it’s just good to see.

It was almost a fairy tale for Alex Smith

728 days. That’s how long Alex Smith’s devastating leg injury had him wait between touchdown passes. Smith wasn’t even supposed to play in this game, but when Kyle Allen went down to an injury that was almost eerily similar to the one which cost him two years of his career, and nearly ended his career altogether.

For most of the 2nd half, and particularly the third quarter, it looked as though he might have a game for the ages and lead Washington on an incredible 17-point come-from-behind victory. That, obviously, didn’t come to pass for Smith. He, and Washington’s offense, weren’t quite able to rise to the occasion and seize the opportunity. The Giants let Smith and Washington hang around throughout the second half, and it nearly cost them the game.

As a fan of the sport of football, losing a game to a player like Alex Smith, who overcame all that he did — particularly when coached by a man who just finished his last round of treatment for cancer — might sting, but it’s not something you can be mad about. Fortunately for the Giants, but unfortunately for Smith and Ron Rivera, Washington didn’t quite have enough to complete the fairy tale ending.