I think it’s time to take the New York Giants seriously. Sunday’s stunning 17-12 victory on the road against the Seattle Seahawks was the Giants’ fourth straight, guarantees they will stay in first place in the NFC East for another week and proves that they can indeed beat a good team outside the division.
The Giants, playing a backup quarterback who had not won a start since 2014, were not supposed to win this game. They were double-digit underdogs. When they headed into the locker room at the half trailing, 5-0, it looked like no matter how well their defense played it wasn’t going to be good enough to beat Seattle, one of the league’s best teams and 56-0 at home before Sunday.
The ‘Fightin’ Joe Judges,’ though, found a way.
The Giants ran for 33 yards and scored zero points in the first half on Sunday. They finished with 190 rushing yards and 17 points.
They won with a backup quarterback who had not won a game since 2014 and was making just his fourth start in five years.
The Giants held a high-flying, big-play offense that was averaging 31.0 points per game to 10 points, with two of Seattle’s points coming from a safety on a blocked punt.
They beat a team that was 8-3 entering the game, including 5-0 at home.
They won with big-time contributions from all sorts of players who either weren’t on the team at the beginning of the season or weren’t expected to be major contributors. Guys like backup quarterback Colt McCoy and running backs Wayne Gallman (135 yards rushing), Alfred Morris (2 touchdowns).
They won with a guy most of the world thought they were crazy for acquiring last season, Leonard Williams, leading the defense with 2.5 sacks and 5 hits on Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
They won with key contributions from Day 3 defensive draft picks Darnay Holmes, Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown, from an undrafted free agent like Niko Lalos and from a castoff like Isaac Yiadom.
In all the Giants generated 23 pressures against Wilson and created two turnovers, a fumble and an interception.
“We’ve seen a lot of these young guys make improvement throughout the season. There’s a lot of young guys on defense, there’s a lot of young guys on offense as well that we ask to do a lot of jobs and they keep getting better. They give us confidence because of the way they prepare and the way they demonstrate the execution in practice,” Judge said. “Overall, we’re a young team, but we really don’t care about that. I told you guys a long time ago, I love the fact that we’re a young team. I really do. It means there’s a lot of guys to develop, a lot of guys to work with and grow. I’ve seen guys, I don’t care if they were on the practice squad two weeks ago or they’re a veteran in this league, all of our guys are improving and all of our guys are helping us have results.”
I think I’m glad I’m not on the Giants’ punt team
Had the Giants lost this game, the punt team would have had to shoulder much of the blame.
I don’t know who was responsible for the breakdown on the blocked punt, but it’s ridiculous to let a rusher come flying up the middle and go untouched past the personal protector (Nate Ebner).
There were two false starts on punts.
Riley Dixon, second in the league entering the game in percentage of punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, sent his final punt of the game into the end zone for a touchback from the Seattle 42-yard line.
The special teams woes weren’t limited to the punt team, as placekicker Graham Gano missed an extra point for the first time this season.
I think the Wayne Train gained steam
Sunday was a career game for Wayne Gallman. Really a career half. Gallman had 4 carries for 6 yards in the first half. He finished the game with 135 yards on 16 carries, including runs of 60 and 23 yards.
After the Giants failed to score in the first half, it was a 60-yard Gallman run around left end that set up their first touchdown and sent them on their way to a monumental upset victory.
Gallman now has 504 yards rushing on 109 carries, 4.6 yards per carry.
Gallman’s 60-yard run, followed by two power runs from Alfred Morris that covered the final 17 yards and got the Giants into the end zone, completely changed the feeling around Sunday’s game.
I think you’ve gotta love power football
Colt McCoy said the Giants didn’t really intend to spend as much time as they did in so many tight power formations, but it was working and they stuck with it. The Giants even ran a couple of plays with Shane Lemieux at fullback and Elijhaa Penny at halfback, gaining 8 yards in the two times they tried that.
It’s cool to watch your teams throw the ball all over the lot, but there is something absolutely exhilarating about watching that team simply overpower another team and run it down their throats. There is something awesome about watching a team saying “we’re coming at you with power because we don’t think you can stop it,” then winning that physical challenge.
What changed for the Giants from the first half to the second half?
“There were a couple of small adjustments in terms of some of the things we call and the way we design a run play but I don’t think there was anything radical,” Judge said. “We talked about it at halftime, but the biggest point of emphasis was to stay committed to the game plan we had coming in. And they were going to keep running the ball and that we had to keep wearing them down over time. We had to give our runners opportunities to get in space and finish the runs.”
I think you need to root for the Steelers and Ravens
No matter what happens on Monday and Tuesday, the Giants are going to enter Week 14 as the first-place team in the NFC East. Things could look even better for the Giants by late Tuesday night if the Pittsburgh Steelers can beat the Washington Football Team and the Baltimore Ravens can do the same to the Dallas Cowboys.
So, Giants fans, you know who you have the root for the next couple of nights.
I think Colt McCoy did just enough
In his first start as a Giant, McCoy was hardly spectacular. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 105 yards and an interception. We can argue all day about whether that interception was his fault since the ball was a little bit inside, or Evan Engram’s fault since he clearly had two hands on it with an opportunity to pull it in.
if you really want to spend your time arguing about that, though, you really don’t know how to enjoy the biggest victory your team has had in a very, very long time.
McCoy did just enough for the Giants.
“I thought Colt did a really good job today during the game. He made a lot of tough throws. We extended some drives and moved down the field. He did a really good job for us,” Judge said. “He does a lot of things that you wouldn’t notice on the stat sheet in terms of managing the game and controlling the flow of the game, talking to the guys on the sidelines, relaying information in the huddle. Colt really stepped up and had a huge game for us today. He made a lot of big throws when we needed them, he made some tough plays down the stretch.”
“It’s very gratifying. I talked to the guys, Coach Judge let me break down the team at the end and I just told them how proud I was to be a part of this, to be with this group of guys, and that’s special to me,” McCoy said. “I love the game of football. I’ve been playing for 11 years and I’m fortunate to still be playing. I count my blessings every day. To come in here on the road and figure out a way to help our team get a win...
“Obviously there’s things I can do better, one hundred percent. I played so far from perfect, but I think I did a good job in the second half settling down and seeing things and taking a breath. I felt like in the first half I just was ahead of the play a lot, which, I hadn’t done it in a while. Again, I love the game, I love being able to play, and playing with this group is pretty special and I am really appreciate of it.”
I think the Leonard Williams debate is over
Yes, it’s odd to go out and trade draft choices for a player in the middle of a season in which you have no chance of making the playoffs. If you’re still clinging to the idea that Dave Gettleman was stupid for acquiring Leonard Williams, you’re fast approaching “I won the election by a lot” even though that is not true territory.
Leonard Williams is having a terrific season. He is the Giants’ best defensive lineman. He had 2.5 sacks on Sunday, including one that forced Seattle into a fourth-and-18 they couldn’t convert on their final drive. He now has a career-high 8.5 sacks. He also had 5 quarterback hits. Williams was buzzing around Russell Wilson all day on Sunday.
“That dude is a man,” said Judge. “He gives us a lot of versatility on the defense because of his skillset. And this dude is just a guy that when you see him in your locker room before the game, he makes you feel a little bit better.
“Obviously there’s statistics on the field that you see, what you don’t see is what kind of guy he is to coach, what kind of teammate he is away from it. That’s as important if not more important than all the statistics you see on the sheets. This guy helps everyone else raise their level of preparation and play.”
He’s a man the Giants would not be nearly as good on defense without.
I think Patrick Graham is amazing
You saw the way the Giants played defense on Sunday. They had no business being in that game at halftime, but the defense made that a reality.
The Giants always have a terrific defensive plan. Players always know their assignments and execute them at a high level. They never look confused.
Williams said the defensive coordinator has the recall of “a computer” and that he is a “genius” at designing schemes to combat opponents and get the most out of his players.
The Giants are lucky to have Graham. I don’t know if it will happen during the coming offseason, but I have to believe that eventually someone is going to give him an opportunity to be a head coach.