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Giants-Ravens ‘things I think’: Somehow, the Giants keep winning games they shouldn’t win

The Giants’ improbable start continues

Syndication: The Record
Xavier McKinney celebrates Sunday’s victory.
Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Things that are not supposed to happen keep happening for the 2022 New York Giants.

  • They came from behind to defeat the Tennessee Titans, the AFC’s top seed in the 2021 playoffs, in Week 1. Brian Daboll went from broke with a two-point conversion try with 1:06 left, Saquon Barkley made it work, then Tennessee’s Randy Bullock missed a potential game-winning field goal.
  • In Week 2, the Giants won a game against the Carolina Panthers on a 56-yard Graham Gano field goal.
  • In Week 4, they held the Chicago Bears without a touchdown in a 20-12 victory. Well, OK, it’s the Bears and they have a terrible offense, but still holding an NFL team without a touchdown is a solid accomplishment.
  • In Week 5, they won a game after falling behind Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, the top seed in last year’s NFC playoffs, by two touchdowns.
  • Sunday, they trailed the Baltimore Ravens by 10 points in the fourth quarter and still win. They get a 75-yard drive to pull close, then turn over great Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson twice in the final 3:04 to set up the winning touchdown and then seal the victory.

Are these things really happening? What has coach Brian Daboll done with the real New York Football Giants?

These Giants, tied for the worst record in football the last five seasons, are 5-1. Somehow. With a team that is supposed to be devoid of talent and at the beginning of a rebuild.

Daboll isn’t looking for explanations. Or apologizing. Or taking anything for granted.

“I don’t go too far ahead. Sorry. I don’t get too far ahead; I just try to do what I can do to help the team the best I can,” Daboll said after the game. “And I ask everybody to do the same thing in the organization, and collectively together, that’s where our focus needs to be is continuing to improve, owning things when they don’t go right and taking responsibility, competing for one another, playing for one another. Again, we’ve played six games, so it’s a long season left. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Edge defender Jihad Ward said the Giants are a “don’t fold” team. Left tackle Andrew Thomas, who played the second half with his left ankle heavily taped, said Giants’ players “talk about having each other’s back.”

Safety Julian Love, who made the game-changing interception of Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson with 3:04 to play, put it this way:

“I think Coach Dabs has done a great job of really building on what we have in front of us. We’re a team that might not win the game 40-0; we’re a team that will bring our team into the fourth quarter and make key plays in key situations to win games,” Love said. “That’s who we are; we’re resilient, so thankfully made out with this game that against a really good team.”

Here are a few more ‘things I think’ after Sunday’s game.

‘Cool guys cry’

Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, was OK in his first three NFL games. He had some pressures, but he wasn’t dominant. He didn’t have a sack, and had not truly made a different in a game.

That changed on Sunday. It was Thibodeaux’s first NFL sack, a strip-sack of Jackson with 1:40 to go, that ended any thoughts of a magical Ravens’ comeback and sealed yet another improbable victory for the Giants.

It also brought Thibodeaux to tears, with the rookie telling a media mob that “cool guys cry.”

“It was the greatest moment. I really sat out there and cried just because the emotion I felt that now I’m in the NFL, now that you can really contribute and this is what they paid me to be here for so the fact that I was able to get it done it’s a great feeling,” Thibodeaux said.

I think it’s nice to see some happy tears around the Giants.

Mistakes ... by the other guys

Chris mentioned this in his ‘4 Downs’ post, but I think it is kind of amazing to watch the Giants methodically grind away, just keep playing the next play regardless of the score, while opposing teams — teams that are supposed to be more talented and definitely have better pedigrees — keep making mistakes.

  • Baltimore’s Justin Tucker missed a 56-yard field goal on Sunday, banging one off the left upright. it was his first miss of the season after nine made field goals, and amazingly his first miss from outside 50 yards since the 2020 season.
  • A Marcus Peters pass interference penalty in the end zone set up the Giants’ game-winning touchdown.
  • The Ravens committed four false start penalties, three by right tackle Morgan Moses.
  • Baltimore’s Odafe Oweh had a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that helped set up a 34-yard Graham Gano field goal in the third quarter.
  • Jackson, the NFL MVP in 2019 and off to a fantastic start this year, turned the ball over twice in the final three minutes. After failing to handle a wide snap, Jackson retreated, retrieved the ball and flung it desperately down the middle of the field. Love graciously accepted the gift, returning it to the 13-yard line to set up the Giants’ game-winning score. Seeking retribution on the Ravens’ final possession, he held the ball low, Thibodeaux knocked it out and Leonard Williams recovered.

Daniel Jones deserves props

Don’t look now, but the Giants’ often-mocked quarterback is 8-3 over his last 11 starts dating back, of course, to before he suffered his season-ending neck injury in 2021.

Jones does not have huge passing numbers during that stretch. On Sunday, he threw for only 173 yards. Still, he threw for two touchdowns and led the Giants to a come-from-behind victory. He has now led four game-winning drives and three comeback victories this season.

With the Giants trailing 20-10 in the fourth quarter, Jones came up huge. He hit Marcus Johnson for 18 yards on a third-and-4, then Wan’Dale Robinson for 17 yards on second-and-12. He ended the drive with an 8-yard scoring pass to Daniel Bellinger.

“We’re not shocked. No, we’re not shocked that we find ways to win,” Jones said. “I think we’re confident in what we can do and we’re confident in our toughness, our ability to compete and find ways to win down the stretch. So, no, we’re not shocked. I think we understand there’s a lot still out there for us, (and) there’s a lot we’ve got to work to improve on, but no, we’re not shocked.”

Whatever the passing numbers are, Jones continues to play winning football. I think that is a shock to many.

Wan’Dale Robinson makes a difference

The Giants’ second-round pick had three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown in his return to action following a Week 1 knee injury.

Jones said Robinson added “a good bit” to the offense.

“He made a couple of big plays for us there,” Jones said. “Good football player, smart player, and he’ll definitely help us out going forward.”

Throw in the five catches by Daniel Bellinger, who has three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) this season, and the Giants suddenly have a couple of rookie pass catchers they can begin building a passing attack around.

After watching for four weeks, Robinson said “it feels really good” to contribute.

“Even after some of those wins I’m like ‘I’m not doing anything for this team,” Robinson said. “Just itching to get back out there to help and after the day I felt really good just to be able to help this team.”

I think that maybe, just maybe, the Giants have a couple of receivers they can go forward with.

It’s OK to enjoy this

Daboll isn’t getting ahead of himself. Fans shouldn’t, either. A 5-1 start doesn’t guarantee anything. But, absolutely you should enjoy this. Go ahead and dream about this ‘Little Engine That Could’ Giants’ team making the playoffs.

Watching the New York Giants play football has not been fun for a very long time. Even when they were winning 11 games in 2016 they were doing it while playing terrible offense, which wasn’t much fun to watch.

What’s happening now is fun. It’s unexpected. Feel good about it. Don’t pick it apart and look for the imperfections that will annoy you. The Giants are 5-1 and this is the most enjoyable stretch of Giants’ football we have seen in a long time.

Shoot, you even have permission from Daboll and Saquon Barkley to enjoy it.

“Dabs said it, it’s okay to be happy,” Barkley said Sunday evening. “You can be happy being 5-1. It’s hard to win in this league, you can enjoy it.”

Who knows what will happen over the next 11 games. I think, though, watching the Giants right now is a blast.