This is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill: The New York Giants are 6-3, riding a four-game winning streak.
In typical “Giants” fashion, it wasn’t an easy win. If you want “easy ” I suggest you root for another team ... Maybe the 1998 Yankees.
(No offense intended towards Mets fans. My grandfather was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, and I live upstate, so I’m allowed to be a fan of both teams.)
But this is the New York Football Giants we’re talking about, and unless you’ve been under a rock for the last 30 years, you should know that they do NOTHING easily. Want proof? All six of the Giants’ wins have come down to the closing seconds, and have they won those six games by a combined 21 points. Just more than a field goal per game.
The 2013, 2014, or 2015 Giants would probably be in the basement of the NFL right along with the Cleveland Browns. They simply would have found ways to lose these games, where the 2016 Giants are finding ways to win.
So then, who were the winners on Monday Night Football?
WINNER - The Running Game
Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the keyboard ... I almost can’t believe I wrote that. In fact, I have PLENTY of reason to say that the defense are the winners. They held the Bengals to just 20 points, swarming to the ball in the fourth quarter, intercepting Andy Dalton, sacking him twice and harassing him even more.
Olivier Vernon had a sack and nine tackles, Jason Pierre-Paul had five tackles and two passes defensed — the second of which almost turned into a second interception. Landon Collins was once again all over the field and had his fourth interception in the last three games.
I could even say that the winner was Ben McAdoo. The Giants opened the game up with a beautifully called drive, with more variety and creativity than the Giants had shown in any drive this season. Even more impressive, he bared his teeth and let the Giants go for on a fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line. Just about everyone watching decried the decision ... Until Sterling Shepard caught the game-winning touchdown just over the goal line.
But I’m giving it to the running game.
Why? Because it was the work of Rashad Jennings and the offensive line that won the game. The Giants had the ball with 3:01 left on the clock and the opportunity to end the game on their terms. The Giants have had the worst running game in the league this season, and they weren’t just missing their best offensive lineman in Justin Pugh, but his backup in Brett Jones. In their place it was a combination of Marshall Newhouse and Adam Gettis at left guard, where they had to contend with the always formidable Geno Atkins.
The running game struggled most of the game, picking up just over three yards per carry. It seemed utterly futile to trust the game to the rushing attack, and simply common sense to put the ball in Manning’s hands. But Jennings rose to the occasion, picking up two absolutely crucial third downs with the game on the line.
First, on third-and-6 he showed excellent patience to the hole before bursting through the line of scrimmage so explosively that it ruined Vontaze Burfict’s angle, letting Jennings get nine yards. That took the Giants to the two minute warning. Another run and the Giants were on second-and-10, needing a single first down to be able to run out the clock. Jennings exploded through the line for 25 yards, and two kneel downs later, the Giants advance to 6-3.
The Giants had to chip away at the Bengals run defense, but the running backs ended the game with 118 yards on 24 runs, an average of 4.9 yards per carry.
LOSER - Giants Fans’ Blood Pressure
The Giants players aren’t the only ones who need to pay attention to their offseason conditioning program and come into camp in shape. Like I said before, the Giants don’t do anything easily, and it would behoove fans to make sure they’re in shape to survive the peaks and valleys that make up a a season of Giants football.
The Giants should really know that as one of the oldest franchises in the league, their fandom is a generational thing, passed down from grandparent to parent to child. They really should be considerate enough to know that some of their more ... venerable fans might a bit dodgy in the heart. It would be nice if the Giants could just cruise from the first whistle to the last, playing complete complimentary football, and executing their assignments.
But they just can’t. Players will drop balls, they will commit costly penalties at the worst times. Eli Manning will dial the aggression up to 11 and launch the ball into triple coverage targeting his sixth receiver, or the defense will give up a mind-numbing third down conversion to extend an opposing offense’s drive.
As a Giants fan you just KNOW these things will happen ... Yet you finish the game a quivering vial of adrenaline and anxiety anyway.
So please Giants, for the sake of your fans’ health, just play like we all know you can!