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Giants-Patriots ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’: Tommy Devito-Jalin Hyatt connection rises, more

Doling out lots of praise, and a little criticism, after the Giants defeat the Patriots

New England Patriots v New York Giants
Jalin Hyatt
Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Like it or not, the New York Giants won a second straight football game on Sunday, improving to 4-8 with a 10-7 victory over the New England Patriots. There is plenty to praise — and criticize — so let’s get to our traditional ‘Kudos & Wet Willies.’

Kudos to ...

Jalin Hyatt — The rookie wide receiver had the kind of game everyone has been waiting for since Hyatt looked like a star during training camp. Hyatt had catches of 41, 26 and 22 yards en route to a five-catch, 109-yard night — the first 100-yard receiving game of his career. The Giants had played 18 regular-season games without a 100-yard receiver. Wan’Dale Robinson had exactly 100 yards receiving Nov. 20 of last season against the Detroit Lions.

Quarterback Tommy DeVito said Hyatt is “quarterback friendly” because “anybody that’s that fast and can make the plays that he makes is quarterback friendly.”

“He’s just a special individual. Special player, route runner, whatever you want to call it and he’s a confident dude,” DeVito said. “He tells me he’s like ‘I’m going to go get this ball for you’ like if we call this, I’m going to make play. So, it takes a lot off my shoulders.”

Kayvon Thibodeaux — The second-year edge defender was part of defensive effort that forced three interceptions and held the Patriots to 7 points. Thibodeaux had a half-sack, a forced fumble and two tackles for loss

Bobby Okereke — The veteran linebacker is playing with a fractured pinky finger, a fractured rib and a sore hip. He still had eight tackles, an interception and 55-yard return and had a pair of passes defensed. Eyebrows were raised when the Giants gave Okereke a four-year, $40 million contract with $21.8 million guaranteed, but Okereke’s play and leadership are making him look worth it.

Tommy DeVito — I wrote before Sunday’s game that I thought the Giants should still start Tyrod Taylor at quarterback when Taylor comes off injured reserve. After watching another solid performance from DeVito, and another Giants victory, I am now thinking that DeVito should remain in the lineup.

That’s a decision coach Brian Daboll wasn’t willing to make on Sunday, saying the organization would discuss it during the bye week. DeVito, though, played well. The Giants scored only 10 points, but DeVito completed 17 of 25 for 191 yards, a touchdown and did not throw any interceptions. He was charged with two fumbles, losing one, while compiling a 103.9 passer rating.

“I think he’s played two good games in a row, so he’s made good decisions with what we asked him to do. He’s made the necessary throws, he’s done his job for the most part, the way that the quarterback needs to do his job to help us,” Daboll said. “Obviously, we want to score more points. No question about it, but there are a lot of things that go into that too as well. We’ve just all got to keep doing our job and doing it as well as we can.”

Xavier McKinney — Not so long ago I didn’t think McKinney, in the final year of his rookie contract, was having enough impact to justify getting a long-term contract from the Giants this offseason. That, though, is why decisions shouldn’t get made until you have all of the evidence.

McKinney had a team-high 10 tackles on Sunday. He now has four straight double-digit tackle games, totaling 43 tackles in that time. He nabbed his first interception since 2021 on Sunday, and added two passes defensed.

Is defensive coordinator Wink Martindale using McKinney differently? I don’t know, but the recent results have been better for McKinney that at any time since 2021.

Jihad Ward — I’m often critical of Ward, feeling that the Giants need an upgrade over what he generally offers as the Giants’ primary backup on the edge. Ward had a productive game against the Patriots with 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. So, I’ll get off his case. For a little while.

Coaching — Yes, the Giants were playing a bad New England team. Yes, Mac Jones is a terrible quarterback. Still, credit to Martindale for working around the injury to Dexter Lawrence and crafting a defensive plan that led to three turnovers created and just 7 points allowed. Credit to Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka for getting Saquon Barkley to the edges in the run game, for creating an offensive plan that helped DeVito function and for creating opportunities for Hyatt to make some big plays.

Adoree’ Jackson & Tae Banks — I am going to lump both starting outside cornerbacks together. Jackson was physical and effective after missing two games with a concussion. He ended up with 8 tackles and a pass defensed. Banks played his best game in several weeks with an interception, a pass defensed and what seemed like solid coverage throughout the game.

Wet Willies to ...

Pass protection — I don’t want to be overly critical of individual players without watching the film and/or seeing the Pro Football Focus grades. The Giants’ pass protection, though, continued to leave a lot to be desired.

There were times when DeVito had a nice pocket and an opportunity to deliver the ball down the field. Still, he was sacked an unacceptable six times and hit on seven other occasions.

Just from the eye test it looked like veteran guard Justin Pugh had a particularly rough time, but I want to confirm that by looking at the PFF grades.

Azeez Ojulari — This was a second straight week in which Ojulari was mostly invisible. A week ago against the Washington Commanders, Ojulari did not get on the stat sheet despite playing 49 snaps. This week — an assisted tackle and single quarterback hit — was a tad better. Not nearly good enough, though, for a player the Giants hoped would join Thibodeaux in forming a dynamic young pass rushing duo off the edges of the defense.

Defending wide receiver screens — Tony DelGenio mentioned this Sunday night, but the Giants showed no ability to defend a wide receiver screen on Sunday. If New England offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien had done nothing but called runs straight up the middle and wide receiver screens the Giants may never have stopped the Patriots offense. It was unbelievable how often New England called wide receiver screens, and how they worked almost every time.

Kwillie to ...

Jamie Gillan — The Giants’ punter had a great game ... until he didn’t. Gillan mashed a career-best 74-yard punt, had four of his eight punts downed in the 20-yard line and averaged 40.3 net yards per punt. But ... Gillan chose an awful time for his worst punt. He hit a 38-yarder with 3:26 to go in the game that led to New England getting the ball at midfield in great position to win or tie the game. Fortunately for the Giants, Chad Ryland missed a game-tying 35-yard field goal.