The New York Giants have cemented a winning record, their first winning record since 2012, when they went 9-7.
The offense, however was just along for the ride, with a spectacular and explosive play by Odell Beckham Jr. — making up for a bad drop earlier in the game. The story of the game was the Giants’ defense which, despite giving up yards in the first half, absolutely suffocated the Dallas offense.
So who were the big winners and losers?
Winner - Defense!
There big winners in this game is the defense, and they didn’t just win, but they won on a lot of different levels.
Let’s get the obvious over with first: The defense won this game. If it wasn’t for a busted coverage by UDFA Andrew Adams (not a knock on the young man, you have to respect that running game, and he has played very well) the Giants would have pitched a perfect game against one of the top scoring offenses in the NFL.
That’s no mean feat.
The Giants came up with a trio of takeaways, picking Dak Prescott off twice (first time in his career that’s happened), and sacking him three times. The Dallas rookie had been one of the league leaders in quarterback rating, but the Giants held him to a quarterback rating of just 45.4. The Giants hit Prescott in ways that he simply hadn’t been to this point, then locked down his passing targets. With the most feared offensive line in the league and talented receivers, Prescott just isn’t used to what the Giants’ defense did to him.
Next, the Giants’ free agent class played a tremendous game — and if anyone still questions Jerry Reese’s spending spree, they need to watch this tape. Olivier Vernon played a great game against Tyron Smith, racking up 8 quarterback pressures, 4 stops, a sack and a batted pass against the best left tackle in football. Damon Harrison continued to be an irresistible force in the middle, notching four tackles including a big tackle for a loss. The star of the game, however, was Janoris Jenkins. Largely following Dez Bryant (one catch, 10 yards, and a fumble), Jenkins made his case for All-Pro consideration and might just be the best corner in the NFL right now after air-tight coverage and a pair of turnovers.
There was much trepidation regarding the Giants’ defense after losing Jason Pierre-Paul to a sports hernia. In JPP’s absence, the Giants might have found yet another undrafted gem in Romeo Okwara. It took a while for the rookie to find his groove, but he got the first sack of his career, and nearly got a second toward the end of the game. If he can continue to grow throughout the year, the Giants will be a very happy team.
Adding yet another level of win for the Giants’ defense, linebacker Devon Kennard stepped up and had probably the best game of his career (thus far). The linebacker had five total tackles, a sack, and he seemed to be everywhere in the front seven for the Giants.
Finally: The New York Football Giants defense held Jason Witten to four catches for 26 yards. For the whole game. And he played the whole game. Against the New York Giants.
Loser - The New York Giants’ Defense
The Giants’ defense won the game, but they had to lug around the corpse of the Giants’ offense for much of the game.
Weighed down by simply abysmal offensive line play, the Giants’ offense looked almost completely inept in the first half. They showed some different looks, having some success with a two tight end set, but failures to execute frustrated any attempt to mount an attack.
It turned around somewhat in the second half — after a largely futile first possession — when the Giants committed to running the ball behind Ereck Flowers with Paul Perkins. Flowers, who had drawn resounding calls for a benching in the first half, seemed to come alive when asked to run block. Except for an exhilarating catch and run by Beckham, the offense simply couldn’t score and barely maintain a drive.
Perhaps the Giants found something in the power run game in the second half, something they can carry forward through the next three games. But at this point it’s unfortunate that the Giants’ defense has the albatross of the offense around its neck.