Despite Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, there is no way to look at the first half of the New York Giants’ 2022 season and see it as anything other than a rousing success.
The Giants are 6-2, legitimate NFC playoff contenders. I dare you, no, double-dare you, to find anyone who thought that would happen back in August.
The Giants currently have an 82 percent chance of making the playoffs. Right now, they would be the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
“Put money in the bank, so to speak,” said head coach Brian Daboll.
The Giants’ first seven games were decided by one score, with the Giants winning four times when trailing entering the fourth quarter. The Giants have had a ‘keep the game close and hope to capitalize on opponents’ mistakes’ formula this season, and it has served them well.
“Most games come down in this league to one-score games – a lot of them, a high percentage of them. So, usually the teams you’re playing are good. It’s a back-and-forth game,” Daboll said. “Most of these, it’s not like you’re used to coaching in some colleges, and it’s over in the first quarter.”
Let’s go game-by-game through the first half of the season to see how we got here, and what each game taught us about the 2022 Giants.
Week 1: Giants 21, Tennessee Titans 20 (1-0)
This was the first indication that there was something different about the 2022 Giants, a team that entered the season with a rookie head coach, a myriad of question marks and five-year streak of double-digit losing seasons.
Facing the 2021 No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, the Giants fell behind 13-0 in the first half. They competed hard, but it looked like they just weren’t good enough to beat a playoff-caliber team.
Then, strange un-Giants-like things began to happen.
Saquon Barkley busted a 68-yard run and the Giants ended that drive with a touchdown. Then, a stunning 65-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Jones to Sterling Shepard pulled the Giants even.
Trailing by seven with 5:27 to play the Giants stunningly went 73 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown with 1:06 to play. The Giants trailed, 20-19.
At that point, Brian Daboll set the aggressive, play to win course for the Giants by going for the 2-point conversion. Barkley made it work, Randy Bullock of Tennessee missed a 47-yard field goal on the game’s final play, and the Giants were 1-0.
“Go for the win. We’re going to be aggressive,” Daboll said of the decision to go for two points. “If it didn’t work, I could live with it. I thought that was the right decision.
“It’s a players’ game. ... Trust your players and let them go.”
- Giants-Titans final score: Giants beat Titans, 21-20
- Giants-Titans ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’: Celebrating a surprising Victory Monday
Week 2: Giants 19, Carolina Panthers 16 (2-0)
The Giants again followed what would become a pattern. They struggled early on offense, getting only two field goals despite starting two possessions in Carolina territory following turnovers. They fell behind 13-6 early in the second half.
They outscored the Panthers 13-3 down the stretch, riding four Graham Gano field goals — two from beyond 50 yards — to the victory.
- Giants-Panthers final score: Giants defeat Carolina, 19-16
- Giants-Panthers ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review: Team effort gets Giants to 2-0
Week 3: Dallas Cowboys 23, Giants 16 (2-1)
The first blemish of the season came on Monday Night Football, a game where many thought the Giants were in prime position to pull off an upset with the Cowboys starting backup quarterback Cooper Rush.
It was not, however, to be.
The Giants led, 13-6, after a Saquon Barkley 36-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. Dallas, though, outscored the Giants 17-3 the rest of the way.
This was the game during which Demarcus Lawrence dominated rookie right tackle Evan Neal, beating him for sacks three times. It was also the game during which wide receiver Sterling Shepard was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
- Giants-Cowboys final score: Giants lose to Dallas, 23-16
- Giants-Cowboys ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review: Has Daniel Jones stopped running yet?
Week 4: Giants 20, Chicago Bears 12 (3-1)
The Giants got back to their winning ways by holding Chicago without a touchdown. This was the game during which both Daniel Jones (ankle) and Tyrod Taylor (concussion) were injured. That left Saquon Barkley to play quarterback for a while, and rendered Jones useless except to hand off down the stretch.
Daboll said after the game that with both quarterbacks injured, he had been drawing up plays on a grease board. Still, the Giants found a way to win as Barkley ran for 146 yards.
“You just move on. I mean look, you feel for the players that get injured that give everything they have during the week to get their bodies and their minds right. And if somebody’s out, that’s why you have other players on the roster that you have confidence and faith in, or they wouldn’t be on the roster,” Daboll said. “That’s our job as a coaching staff is to make sure you’re prepared for whatever situation comes up. Is it always going to be great? No, it’s not. There’s certainly things that we can all do better, starting with me. But I just think that’s what you do in a leadership position, too. You don’t panic. You try to stay composed. You try to give people a plan that they can go out and execute and believe in when they need to do it.”
- Giants-Bears final score: Giants win, 20-12, improve to 3-1
- Giants-Bears ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review: Dealing with adversity edition
Week 5: Giants 27, Green Bay Packers 22 (4-1)
The Giants went to London and continued their unexpected start by doing what few thought they would do — defeating Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Brian Daboll is FIRED UP after that win!!! pic.twitter.com/QxCxJx9zJu— Brandon London (@BrandonLondonTV) October 9, 2022
This game, in a way, mirrored the Week 1 victory over Tennessee. The Giants trailed early, 17-3, and went to the locker room at halftime trailing 20-10. They stunned the Packers with 17 unanswered second-half points, though, including a 15-play, 91-yard drive that took more than eight minutes.
The Giants accomplished most of that drive with Saquon Barkley on the sideline nursing an injured shoulder, evidence of the way the Giants have simply continued to plow ahead all season no matter who was — or was not — available.
“Everybody talks like it, but we do things during the week where we put guys in 7 on 7 with some of our practice squad players along with our regular squad players,” Daboll said. “I think the coaches do a great job of getting them ready to go, Joe and I talk about it all the time. Your number can be called anytime to be brought up [from the practice squad] anytime. Maybe it’s two weeks but let’s make sure that you’re in the playbook, that you understand your responsibilities as a professional — be a pro.
“Again, every player on this roster is here for a reason. So we expect whoever it is to get ready, there’s no excuses in the National Football League everybody goes through injuries and everybody goes through downtimes everybody goes through a couple losses. If you can’t handle that you’re probably not made to be in the National Football League.”
- Giants-Packers final score: New York stuns Green Bay, 27-22
- Giants-Packers ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review: ‘Wet Willies?’ No need for those today
Week 6: Giants 24, Baltimore Ravens 20 (5-1)
Ho-hum. Another game. Another fourth-quarter comeback. Another time in which the supposedly better, more talented, more accomplished team made the crucial mistakes at the end of the game.
The Giants trailed 20-10 with 12:54 to play. A 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive got them within three points with 6:01 to play. A stunningly ill-advised throw by Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson that was intercepted and returned to the Baltimore 13-yard line with 2:50 to play set up Saquon Barkley’s game-winning 1-yard touchdown run. Kayvon Thibodeaux’s subsequent strip-sack of Jackson, the first of his NFL career, sealed the victory.
“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.”
- Giants-Ravens final score: Giants stun Ravens, 24-20, improve to 5-1
- Giants-Ravens ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’: Good times keep rolling for Giants
Week 7: Giants 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 17 (6-1)
This had to be the craziest of the Giants’ six victories. It came down to this:
As called by @BobPapa_NFL on Giants radio: pic.twitter.com/MTiaC4sIW6— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 23, 2022
Trailing 17-13, the Giants scored 10 points in the final 5:31 and then survived a wild, nerve-wracking final minute to hang on by a single yard.
Daniel Jones had 202 yards passing, 107 yards rushing and an uncharacteristic emotional outburst:
Most animated I’ve ever seen Daniel Jones.— Coach Jimmy Randazzo (@JimmyRandazzo) October 23, 2022
“Catch the ball!” pic.twitter.com/x73QErbf7k
- Giants 23, Jaguars 17: Giants rally again, then survive to reach 6-1
- ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’: Daniel Jones’ fire as noteworthy as his good play
Week 8: Seattle Seahawks 27, Giants 13 (6-2)
This game set up in typical Giants’ fashion. They trailed by three points entering the fourth quarter and tied the game at 13-13 with 11:17 to play. It did not end the way the previous four had, though. This time it was the Giants with a costly turnover, defensive mistake and inability to generate enough offense.
The Geno Smith revenge game went to the Seahawks as the Giants’ four-game winning streak ended.
“We just didn’t do enough today all the way around. Again, give Seattle credit,” Daboll said. “It’s hard, the ball is important, we got to do a better job of taking care of it, we got to do a better job of executing and finishing drives, converting on some third downs particularly early on in the game.”