Let’s review the New York Giants’ 25-3 victory on Sunday over the Carolina Panthers in our traditional ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ style. Sunday was far from perfect for the Giants, but as you might expect this is a much sunnier version of ‘K&WW’ than we have seen most fo the time this season as the Giants have gone 2-5.
Let’s get to it.
Kudos to ...
Daniel Jones — The third-year quarterback did not have an eye-popping final stat line, but showed everything on Sunday that makes the Giants believe he can be their long-term quarterback. He made plays with his arm, with his legs, with his hands and athleticism. He protected the football on a day when most of the Giants’ top play-makers and their left tackle were sidelined. He showed toughness.
Jones’ final stat line was 23 of 33 for 203 yards and a touchdown, 28 rushing yards, 16 receiving yards. It doesn’t do justice to the performance. Jones showed pretty much everything a team could want in a franchise quarterback.
Unreal pic.twitter.com/oLOXqgs9LL— New York Giants (@Giants) October 24, 2021
Dante Pettis — This is how you take advantage of an opportunity. Pettis, only playing because of the rash of injuries at wide receiver, has 10 catches in two weeks. He caught all five passes thrown to him on Sunday. He threw what he termed “a dime” to Daniel Jones on a trick play. Pettis gets bonus points for holding a highly entertaining post-game press conference.
On his throw to Jones: “I thought that was a dime if he would have kept running (laughs). He made a great catch, so I guess it worked out even better. Yeah, I thought it was a pretty good throw ... I did think he slowed down a little bit and that’s a no-no.”
On the hit Jones took making the catch: “I honestly didn’t see the hit. As soon as I saw him pull it in, I turned around and fist pumped. I was celebrating already. I didn’t even know he got hit like that honestly, so, sorry Daniel.”
On the lengthy review of his touchdown catch: “It was a little stressful because I had already celebrated and everything, and that’s always a little embarrassing when you celebrate and then they call it back. You always think that you’re in unless it’s obvious. So the whole time I was just like, ‘oh, I’m in, I’m in.’ “
On his arm vs. Kadarius Toney’s: “I mean, KT has a way better – he can throw the ball way further. I think I’m a little more accurate. My spiral might be a little better. KT can throw the ball like 80 yards just standing there. His arm is pretty crazy.”
The only thing Pettis did wrong all day was drop the final punt of pre-game warmups with Judge standing next to him. I think he made up for it.
Darius Slayton — After missing three games with a hamstring injury, Slayton had a big game in his return. He caught five passes for 63 yards in nine targets, giving Jones a familiar and comfortable play-maker with Toney, Kenny Golladay and Sterling Shepard out of the lineup.
Leonard Williams — To win games, you need your best players to make big plays. Williams is the Giants’ best defender, made two of them on Sunday. He pressured Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold into an intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety, and he combined with Azeez Ojulari for a drive-stopping sack with the Panthers having reached the Giants’ 42-yard line on their first possession of the third quarter.
Williams ended up with 1.5 sacks, 6 tackles and 3 quarterback hits.
Azeez Ojulari — Speaking of Ojulari, he had a monster game. The second-round pick had 2.5 sacks, 3 tackles for loss and 4 quarterback hits. He was pretty much unstoppable as a pass rusher in the final quarter.
James Bradberry — Bradberry said after the game that he wasn’t supposed to be where he was on his interception of Darnold. The Giants were in zone and he was responsible for a different area. He read the play, though, and jumped a crossing route. Darnold made a horrible decision, a worse throw, and Bradberry capitalized to end a Carolina scoring threat.
It doesn’t seem like much, but Bradberry actually caught the ball. Giants’ defensive backs have failed to do that a number of times this season. He also added a pass breakup.
Graham Gano — Gano went 3 for 3 on field goals of 44, 49 and 53 yards. The 53-yarder made him the franchise leader in field goals of 50 or more yards with 10, breaking a tie with Joe Danelo. An extra ‘Kudos’ to Gano’s kids.
Graham Gano's kids give him a pep talk pic.twitter.com/zRL5vdSQcE— New York Giants (@Giants) October 24, 2021
Overall defense — To be kind, the Christian McCaffrey-less Carolina offense isn’t great. Darnold did not look like a capable NFL starting quarterback on Sunday. The Giants’ defense, though, finally played the way it had been expected to when the season began.
They answered the Panthers’ physical challenge. After Panthers coach Matt Rhule said he wanted to run the ball 30 to 33 times, the Giants held Carolina to 56 yards rushing on 17 attempts. The Giants created a safety. They got a turnover to snuff out a Panther scoring threat. They did not allow. first down on eight of 12 Carolina possessions. They gave up only 173 total yards, and the Panthers averaged just 2.8 yards per play. Giants’ pass rushers sacked Darnold and P.J. Walker six times.
Wet Willies to ...
There are no individual ‘Willies’ this week. The combination of Will Hernandez (two sacks, one hurry allowed) and Billy Price (two pressures allowed) wasn’t great in pass protection, but I’m in a forgiving mood.
Since I’m talking offensive line I want to mention Matt Peart. In a good way, despite the section of the post this falls into. He missed a block on a screen pass and had a costly ineligible man downfield penalty. Peart, though, did not allow a single pressure in 38 pass-blocking snaps. Good stuff.
Now, for this week’s ‘Wet Willies.’
Run blocking — The Giants finished the game with a respectable 31 carries for 103 yards (3.3 yards per carry). Much of that, though, came on one well-executed keeper by Daniel Jones and a 19-yard run by Devontae Booker after Carolina had basically conceded by going for a first down on fourth down inside their own 20. For most of the game Booker (14 carries, 51 yards) and Elijhaa Penny (9 carries, 24 yards) had no place to go. The Giants had the ball to Booker twice inside Carolina’s 1-yard line and failed to score.
The pass protection was good enough, helped by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett using RPOs and moving the pocket. Jones was sacked twice and hit 5 times in 35 drop backs. Opening holes for running backs, though, is an area where the Giants continue to struggle.
Drive-killing penalties — The final score on Sunday showed a blowout 22-point victory for the Giants. It could have been even more lopsided if the Giants hadn’t continually gotten in their own way on offense in the first half. The Giants had five drives — yes, FIVE! — stall in Carolina territory largely due to offensive penalties. They also, of course, failed to score with four chances after first-and-goal at the 2-yard line.