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Giants vs. Saints: 5 plays that led to the Giants’ victory

For a change, the Giants made the plays that mattered

New York Giants v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The New York Giants won a in a resilient fashion Sunday, beating the New Orleans Saints 27-21 in overtime. Daniel Jones and the offense generated several explosive plays against a defense that contained its first three opponents.

New York’s offense had 485 total yards, with Daniel Jones accounting for 402 of them with just his arm. The Saints defense had not allowed 400 total yards in a game this season. The game seemed bleak until about seven minutes left when Jones found Saquon Barkley streaking up the sideline for a 54-yard touchdown.

While riding the momentum of a comeback, the Giants’ defense forced the Saints to punt the ball with three minutes left in the game. The Giants led an 11-play, 59-yard drive that resulted in Graham Gano’s 48-yard game-tying field goal. The Giants’ hopes of winning this game were bleak, to say the least. They were down 11 with about seven minutes to go, but earned the victory to bring their record to 1-3. Here are the critical play(s) from the game.

Play(s) 1: Winning drive

The Giants were fortunate enough to win the overtime coin toss. Jabrill Peppers couldn’t contain his excitement after winning the toss; the Giants had momentum after their 11-play, 59-yard field goal drive, which tied the game at 21 and sent the game to overtime. The game-winning drive went nine plays and 75-yards with connections to John Ross, Kadarius Toney, and this really important screen pass to Saquon Barkley:

New York had just been flagged for an illegal substitution. Flags in these situations have significantly damaged the Giants through the first three games - this could have been devastating. Pushed back to a second-and-14 at their own 48-yard line, Jason Garrett called a well-timed and disguised screen to Barkley, who picked up enough for the first down.

The Saints never had an opportunity in overtime. Their dangerous defense allowed the Giants to drive down the field twice to end the game. It’s a sign of growth from Daniel Jones to be able to do that on the road. Also, credit to Garrett, the offensive coordinator who is much maligned. Here’s the overtime drive:

Play 2: Bulldog tag-team

The loss of Blake Martinez was felt in this game. The Saints’ entire offensive identity is built on running the football. Alvin Kamara (41) had 26 carries for 120 yards, and Taysom Hill (7) added six carries for 28 yards and two touchdowns. However, this pivotal third-and-2 tackle by the Giants was an underrated reason why the Giants won the game.

With 7:14 left in the fourth quarter, the Saints punted the ball to the Giants leading 21-10. The Giants quickly scored thanks to Jones finding Barkley deep. If the Saints were able to convert on this third-and-2, there probably wouldn’t be enough time for the Giants to score twice and win this football game. Lorenzo Carter (59) does a great job anchoring down as Azeez Ojulari (51) crashes down the line of scrimmage from the backside to ensure Kamara is tackled behind the line to gain.

Play(s) 3: Shot plays on first down

New York had two one-play drives that resulted in deep shots on first down. Garrett isn’t a stranger to play-action shots on first down, and they yielded points twice on Sunday. First was this 52-yard bomb to John Ross (12) after Aldrick Rosas missed a 58-yard field goal:

Ross gets on top of his defender and quickly accelerates past two defenders to give Daniel Jones space to throw the football. I love to see the single back, double-Y set, with Ross’ speed on the deep post-off play-action. Ross adds a different element to this offense; Darius Slayton is fast, but Ross is incredibly fast. Defenses have to respect his speed. If they don’t, touchdowns like this happen.

Barkley’s role in the passing game helped the Giants win this game. He caught 5 of 6 targets for 74 yards, including the 54-yard touchdown that happened directly after Play 2.

The Giants waste no time and catch the Saints in a Cover-2 defense. Marshon Lattimore (23) got caught peeking into the flat - his responsibility. He was paying attention to the out route by Evan Engram (88), and Jones found Barkley in the honey-hole before the safety could get over. Barkley did the rest in typical Barkley fashion - when he’s in space, good luck, defenders.

Play 4: Kenny G for 28

It was the Giants’ turn to drive down the field for a field goal attempt with time running out. New York crawled back into this game, and their offense put together an 11-play, 59-yard drive that resulted in Gano’s game-tying 48-yard field goal.

The most important play on the drive came on this third-and-7 where Kenny Golladay got the first down, and then some. Jones’ new best friend broke a tackle and picked up 28 yards, getting the ball down to New Orleans’ 34-yard line. A big play from the big receiver in a big spot.

Play(s) 5: Defensive turning points

The Saints employed a heavy rushing attack with play-action shots to use their outside speed to catch the Giants off-guard. They were successful. However, the Giants benefitted from an obvious holding call on Leonard Williams (99) that negated a 46-yard touchdown to Kenny Stills (12).

Sean Payton uses a great HB-toss fake to attract the attention of the Giants away from the deep shot. Luckily for New York, Williams is dragged down, setting up first-and-20. Payton gets cute and tries to bring in Taysom Hill as quarterback. Hill, who had a phenomenal game on the ground, tried to challenge James Bradberry deep, and it didn’t go well for the Saints.

New Orleans was just about at mid-field on first down. The interception didn’t directly lead to points for the Giants but was still a turning point, especially when coupled with the holding call.

The Saints turned the ball over on downs during their second offensive drive. They had a 10-play, 44-yard drive well into field goal range, but the Giants came up with two huge stops on third and fourth down.

First, Logan Ryan (23) makes a great play to swat the ball out of Tony Jones’ (34) hands.

On fourth down, Leonard Williams then came up with this huge stop pursuing Alvin Kamara attempting to get the edge. These plays happened early in the game but were essential to the win, similar to Play 2.

Here was another low-key big defensive play by Adoree’ Jackson (22):

The Saints are in a 3x1 set and run a quick slant against off-coverage from their No. 1 receiver. Jackson shows excellent click and close and recognition skills to come downhill, on a good angle, and tackle Ty Montgomery (88) near the line of scrimmage. This was followed by the Aldrick Rosas missed field goal attempt.

Dexter Lawrence (97) deserves acknowledgment for this play. It’s not a third or fourth down, but this play could have gone for a significant gain to Tony Jones. The Saints run a boundary screen to the weak side as the Giants send five pass rushers. Lawrence shows excellent processing to see the screen develop and then react to make a tackle. If Lawrence didn’t make the tackle, New Orleans had blockers in space with only one Giant in the area.