This was not a pretty win. The Giants made mistakes and benefitted from the Seahawks making plenty of their own. But the Giants became the first team in the NFC East to beat a team with a winning record this season and secured their biggest win since beating the Cowboys in 2016.
So what did we learn about the Giants in their upset victory?
This was a Patrick Graham win
It’s one thing to shut down Brandon Allen and the Cincinnati Bengals offense. It’s another to befuddle Russell Wilson and shut down their explosive passing attack, but that’s exactly what Graham’s defense did.
The Giants primarily played zone coverages, using late and post-snap rotations to disguise their coverages and pressure packages. Those zone coverages had the Giants’ defenders consistently in position to make plays on the ball, either disrupting at the catch point, making tackles to limit run after catch situations, or free to fly upfield on runs or underneath throws.
The Giants made a point to play the deep pass which has been such a staple of the Seahawks’ offense, and they didn’t quite know what to do without their big play offense.
Wilson did everything he could to let the Giants’ defense declare itself, but that just gave the Giants’ pass rush the time it needed to move him off his spot and generate pressure. Graham has not only don’t a phenomenal job of scheming this season, but teaching his players to execute those schemes.
The Giants’ don’t have the greatest defensive personnel in the NFL and could use upgrades at several spots, but they still held one of the best offenses in the NFL to 12 points and won with a quarterback who threw for 105 yards and averaged than 5 yards per attempt. That is playoff caliber defense.
With head coaching spots opening up around the league, the Giants might want to start coming up with some contingency plans for their defensive coordinator position.
Wayne Gallman Jr. can’t go back to the bench
I don’t know where Wayne Gallman went after the Giants’ opening series, but I didn’t see him on the field again for the Giants until the second half. But Gallman once again showed that he has become a difference maker for New York and shouldn’t not be on the field.
His burst out of the backfield makes tackling him at the line of scrimmage a difficult proposition. Likewise his ability to consistently finish runs and turn 2- and 3-yard gains into 4 and 5-yard gains has been a revelation. And then there was Gallman’s huge 60 and 23 yard runs to set up the Giants’ third quarter touchdowns which gave them the victory. The Giants clearly didn’t trust Colt McCoy to throw the ball, but Gallman more than made up for it.
I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: Gallman should never not be on the field, and shame on Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, and Jason Garrett (until his hand was forced by injury) for letting his rookie contract waste away on the bench.
About those special teams issues ...
This was a fantastic win for the Giants, but we can’t ignore continued problems on a unit that was supposed to be a strength for the Giants.
For the second week in a row, the Giants have had multiple problems on special teams. There were once again issues with kick coverage (particularly early in the game) that set the Seahawks up with good field position to start. We then saw multiple penalties that made life unnecessarily difficult on the Giants — as well as a missed extra point from the normally automatic Graham Gano. And then there was the blocked punt for a safety.
In a way, the Giants were very fortunate to escape with just a 2-point play on that. Had the Seattle player’s hand not gone out of bounds it would have been recovered for a touchdown. That play very nearly put the Giants in a 10-0 hole at halftime, which, considering how their offense played much of the game, would have been a serious trouble going into the second half, and those 5 points were the difference in the game.
As great a win as this is, we know that special teams matter, and Joe Judge, Thomas McGaughey, and Tom Quinn need to get their special teams executing with discipline again.
Young guys step up
One of the underrated stories of this game was the role of the Giants’ young defensive players. Kudos, once again, to Patrick Graham for getting the rookies up to speed and contributing, but we need to take a moment and recognize the efforts of Carter Coughlin, Niko Lalos, and Cam Brown.
Coughlin was everywhere on the field filling in for Kyler Fackrell, generating several key pressures, stringing plays out, and creating opportunities for his teammates. Lalos once again came up with a key takeaway as he was there to scoop up a fumbled snap by Wilson. And Cam Brown once again played well off the edge. While the right side of Seattle’s offensive line is a problem (after all, they were playing Chad Wheeler by the end of the game), Brown made several plays shedding blocks and blowing up plays to the outside.
Likewise, Tae Crowder’s speed from the second level made an impact once again, particularly on blitzes. We don’t want to anoint these young players yet, but their play will certainly be a boon for the Giants’ roster if they can keep making strides.