The New York Giants returned from their bye week with a 24-16 victory over the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium. Let’s look at five things that stood out:
Win the Turnover Battle
As the old adage goes, “The key to winning the game is to win the turnover battle,” and the stats back that up. Teams that have more takeaways than giveaways win 73% of the time, and the Giants have a plus-four turnover differential despite only having two interceptions this season. In reality, it’s down to two things: a league-leading 10 fumble recoveries and Daniel Jones, who has become much more proficient in protecting the ball.
In the win against the Texans, not only did Jones protect the ball exquisitely, but the defence stepped up with two critical turnovers, one in the redzone and one in the endzone. The first, a fumble by standout rookie running back Dameon Pierce, was caused by a great punchout by Leonard Williams, and the second, an interception of Davis Mills, could have been caught by either Adoree Jackson or Dane Belton, but it was the rookie Belton that secured the grab at the front of the endzone.
Over the weekend, it was revealed that the Giants had engaged in talks with the representatives of Saquon Barkley regarding a well-deserved contract extension. As of right now, that hasn’t materialized, but if the Giants want to keep arguably their best player on the team, they’re likely going to have to pay him top-tier money.
Barkley had a heavy workload in the win over the Texans, carrying the ball an astonishing 35 times (a season high) for 152 yards and a touchdown, while also catching the ball once for a further 8 yards. His 152 yards were his highest total in a game since his 164 yards in the season opener versus the Tennessee Titans and took his season total to a league-leading 931 yards. He also has the second most scrimmage yards with 1,128 and only needs 45 yards this week to overtake the Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill, who is on a bye week.
Five weeks ago, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers had just found out firsthand what a dominant force Dexter Lawrence had become, and it obviously resonated with the veteran as he paid tribute to him on his weekly segment on the Pat McAfee show. “Number 97 is a premier player, and needs to probably get some more recognition for the ability that he has.” Since then, Lawrence has not let up in the slightest and appears to be a lock for the Pro Bowl and could even be an All-Pro candidate.
Sexy Dexy, as he’s been known since middle school, was a game wrecker on Sunday, terrorising the Texans offensive linemen and finishing the game with five total tackles, five QB hits, a sack (two half sacks), and a batted down pass. He also totaled eight pressures, one of which forced Houston quarterback Davis Mills into his ill-advised lob into the end zone that was intercepted.
Big Play Slay
It’s safe to say that up until a few weeks ago, this season likely had not been Darius Slayton’s favorite. Before it even started, he had to contend with trade rumours and then the very real threat of potentially being cut. Slayton survived both but ultimately was cast aside for the first four weeks of the season, suiting up for three games and only being targeted twice, but as the injuries mounted, the Giants’ hand was forced and he was given a larger role.
Since then, Slayton has flashed in a few games, but he was back in his rookie season groove against the Texans, as he played a massive part in securing the victory. Finishing the game with three receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown in which he took full advantage of a missed tackle by Texans safety Jalen Pitre to sprint 54 yards to the house. Slayton now has a team-leading 327 yards, and with there being no standout number two thanks to Kenny Golladay’s ongoing struggles, he could well lead the team for the rest of the season.
If there is one thing about the Giants’ season that cannot be understated, it’s the work of general manager Joe Schoen and assistant general manager Brandon Brown, who have been able to add players throughout the season, some of whom made sizable contributions in Sunday’s game:
- Fabian Moreau, who was signed ironically after being released by the Houston Texans, has been a solid cornerback opposite Adoree Jackson. He recorded six tackles and one pass deflection.
- Jaylon Smith resigned with the Giants near the end of September and has now become a starting linebacker. He made five tackles, had a quarterback hit, and recovered a fumble.
- Jason Pinnock was claimed off waivers at the end of August and had a great day against the Texans with 1.5 sacks and a tackle for loss.
- Lawrence Cager was claimed after being released by the neighbouring Jets and caught his first career touchdown against the Texans.
- Isaiah Hodgins, signed less than two weeks ago after being waived by the Bills, caught two passes in Sunday’s game for 41 yards.