The Giants returned to our shores this week and shocked everyone with a 27-22 come-from-behind victory over the Green Bay Packers. Let’s take a look at five things that stood out from London:
The Giants must really love coming to London. Not only is the team now 3-0 in the city, but they’re also the only team to win three games in three different London stadiums (Wembley in 2007, Twickenham in 2016 and Tottenham this past weekend).
Despite being 3-1, the Giants opened as 7.5-point underdogs against Aaron Rogers and his Green Bay Packers team, and looking at the rosters, it was totally understandable. The Giants were without multiple starters, including starting defensive player Leonard Williams, and after the first half of the game went the way of the cheeseheads (and their huge following), the Giants rallied at half time. After shutting out Green Bay in the second half despite more injury woes, Big Blue scored two unanswered touchdowns via running backs Gary Brightwell and Saquon Barkley before Oshane Ximines sacked Rogers on the final play of the game.
Box of Tricks
The Wildcat formation was obviously something that the Giants had in their back pocket after successfully running it a few times last week. Due to injuries to both quarterbacks, that was a necessity last week; this week, it was more of an option to unsettle the Packers, and it worked.
Barkley lined up on his own 22-yard line, took the snap and darted through for 40 yards. Suddenly, the tails were up, and Big Blue had started to string something together. A few plays later, they found themselves on the cusp of the endzone. In what looked like a failed Philly special, Daniel Jones tossed it to Barkley, who then did the same to tight end Daniel Bellinger. Bellinger looked like he was going to throw the ball but decided to just barrel into the endzone for the Giants’ first touchdown of the game.
2nd Half Shutout
Wink Martindale seems to use the first half as a learning session before executing his masterplan in the second half, and this time it was Rogers who was in the crosshairs. After Adoree Jackson was ruled out at the half with a knee injury, he was down to Fabian Moreau, Nick McCloud, and Justin Layne, three players who weren’t even on the Giants roster until after the preseason, but all three excelled in their next man up roles.
After completing 18 of 24 for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, he was held to a paltry 7 of 15 for 76 yards and no touchdowns. The amazing thing at the end of all of this is that the only points scored by the Packers in the second half were done so by the Giants, as punter Jamie Gillian got to play a little bit of chase in the endzone before stepping out for a safety.
Slayton Shows Up
The Giants’ receivers had been the most underwhelming unit this season, and after the majority of the so-called big names had been ruled out by injuries, the Giants turned to fourth-year outcast Darius Slayton.
Slayton has found himself on the outside looking in since Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen took over and was touted as being an almost certain cut or trade candidate before the season.
Though he saw a return to the line-up last week, again he didn’t start as practice squad elevation Marcus Johnson started the game, but by the end, Slayton showed why it should be him next week. He led the team in both targets and receptions and comfortably had double the receiving yards of any other Giant receiver. With Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson unlikely to take the field together for at least a few more weeks, the Giants won’t think twice next time about relying on Slayton.
Coach(es) of the Year Incoming?
In their first year leading the team, general manager Joe Schoen, head coach Brian Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, and defensive coordinator Wink Martingdale have had quite an eventful start to the season as the team has exceeded expectations to earn their 4-1 start.
Daboll and Schoen have overhauled the culture at the Giants, building a team that not only does the dirty, gritty work but genuinely looks like they are playing for each other. The old cliché is “next man up,” but this is a mantra they are playing by and, to a man, it is working.
The coordinators, as mentioned before, both got the absolute best out of the personnel at their disposal, whether it was Kafka getting creative with his play calling to bamboozle the Green Bay defense or Wink, despite missing key pieces, stifling Rogers’ air attack and holding the Packers’ dangerous rushing tandem of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon to a combined 97 yards.