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Giants-Bills ‘things I think’: No participation trophies, but Giants did show some improvement

Considering how the season started, that it at least something to feel good about

New York Giants v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

“You don’t get trophies for trying.”

Well, you do in recreational youth sports. In the NFL, of course, that’s not the case.

So, New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll was absolutely correct in uttering the quote above after the Giants’ 14-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.

Still, this was progress for the 1-5 Giants.

After three straight prime-time embarrassments, losing to the Dallas Cowboys, San Franisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks by a combined 94-15 score, the Giants — minus Daniel Jones, Andrew Thomas, John Michael Schmitz and Azeez Ojulari — came within a yard of a monumental upset.

The Giants somehow managed to end each half with the ball on the Buffalo 1-yard line and not get any points either time.

Daboll did not take veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor off the hook for a bone-headed decision to check to a run play on the last play of the half with :14 seconds left and no timeouts. The play’s failure allowed the clock to run out and took at least three and perhaps seven points from the Giants — points that would have been meaningful at the end of the game.

Whine about the no-call on the final pass to Darren Waller if you must. Reality is, sometimes you will get that call and sometimes you won’t. After a defensive pass interference on the final play of regulation gave the Giants a chance from the 1-yard line, getting a second straight interference call was highly unlikely.

I think that at 1-5, thoughts of playoffs (sorry, Tony D) are silly. If the Giants can build on what we saw Sunday, though, the final 11 games should be more enjoyable than the first six.

The Giants’ defense has really come on. Bobby Okereke has settled in and is making athletic plays a Giants’ linebacker hasn’t made in a long time. Next to him, Micah McFadden actually looks like a starter.

First-round pick Tae Banks spent a lot of time matched up one-on-one with Stefon Diggs, and did a good job. The more Banks plays, the better he looks.

On offense, what Justin Pugh did Sunday night was more than commendable. It was remarkable. “Straight off his couch,” as Pugh said, and almost a year to the day of his surgery for his torn ACL, Pugh started at left guard and looked good. He then had to move to left tackle — which he hadn’t played in several years — because of Josh Ezeudu’s injury.

Pugh, and the entire offensive line, played functionally.

The Giants seemed to have a better offensive approach. Having Saquon Barkley, who had runs of 34 and 19 yards en route to a hard-nosed 24-carry, 93-yard night made a huge difference. Barkley and better run blocking gave the Giants a useful running game.

Daboll and Mike Kafka seemed to have a better plan in the passing game, as well. They moved the pocket, used some play-action from under center, got the ball out of Taylor’s hands quickly. Taylor even hit a couple of shot plays to Darius Slayton.

The Giants also seem to have narrowed their wide receiver rotation. It seemed like Slayton, Jalin Hyatt and Wan’Dale Robinson got most of the snaps, with Isaiah Hodgins playing some. I don’t believe Parris Campbell or Sterling Shepard played on offense. If they did, they were just cameo appearances.

The offense still needs to figure out how to get into the end zone, something it hasn’t done since the third quarter of Week 3. Still, this was better. It was, in fact, better all the way around.

This was more like what we hoped to see from the Giants this season — competitive football against good teams. Hopefully, it’s a sign that the rest of the season will be better.