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Five Things: Super Wildcard Weekend – New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings

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You like that!? The New York Giants showed they aren’t in the postseason just to make up the numbers with an exhilarating 31-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. Here are five things that stood out:

Danny Dollars

Daniel Jones was predicted to fail by analysts from the moment he was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. To be fair, his first few years would be difficult as a revolving door of head coaches and offensive coordinators struggled to utilize Jones and the inevitable questions arose. Would Jones ever be good enough to be a franchise quarterback? Can he stay healthy? When will he learn to protect the football?

Not only did he answer those questions emphatically this season by playing accurate, turnover-free football, but he’s also shown his leadership and reliability as he’s become more comfortable with the coaching staff. This was clear on Sunday as Jones put the Giants’ offence on his back, displaying a methodical passing and rushing attack as he orchestrated five scoring drives, all of which were over 75 yards.

Oh, and who is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 70 yards in the playoffs? You guessed it, Daniel Jones.

The Secondary vs Jefferson

After decimating the Adoree Jackson and Xavier McKinney-less Giants secondary in Week 16, many expected Justin Jefferson to be the potential deciding factor once again. However, the Wink Martindale-led defence had constructed a game plan to stifle the superstar receiver, and outside of the first drive, they executed it to almost perfection.

With the Giants adapting their usual blitz-heavy attack for a more conservative one featuring more zone coverage, Jefferson was able to gain 30 yards on four catches on the opening possession, but he would only catch three more passes for a further 17 yards, with his longest catch of the night being only 10 yards. Obviously, focusing so intently on one player runs the risk of opening up opportunities for other players, and as is par for the course with this Giants team, this meant tight end TJ Hockenson was able to bring in 10 catches for 129 yards, but in the end, the defence stood strong and was able to close the game out.

Outstanding Offense

As alluded to in the previous section, the Giants’ offence possessed the ball seven times (nine if you count the kneel-downs at the end of each half) and was able to score five times. Though Jones was the main driving force, he still needed his supporting cast to match his hunger, which they did.

Outside of the seven pressures that rookie Evan Neal allowed, the offensive line mostly stood strong, allowing Jones ample time to pick his passes while also opening running lanes for both the quarterback and running backs.

Barkley scored two touchdowns and rushed for 53 yards despite only carrying the ball a season-low tying nine times while adding 56 receiving yards on five receptions. Isaiah Hodgins had a team season-high 105 receiving yards and a touchdown on 8 targets, Daniel Bellinger caught both of the passes thrown his way, finishing with 17 yards and a touchdown, and Darius Slayton, despite his almost costly drop on the Giants’ last meaningful offensive possession, still had four catches for 88 yards.

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Vikings Final Drive

Slayton’s ill-timed drop forced the Giants to punt back to the Vikings, and it almost felt inevitable that Kirk Cousins would drive up the field to tie the game 31-31 and force the game into overtime, but this isn’t the same Giants team of the past few seasons.

After an awful roughing the passer call on the outstanding Dexter Lawrence saved the Vikings from a likely intentional grounding call. The clearly frustrated Giants’ defence was caught out for a 13-yard Hockenson catch that saw the Vikings near midfield, but after an incomplete pass and a minimal gain run, the Vikings had two key downs to save their season, but ultimately it was the Giants’ defence that stepped up.

Firstly, the third down saw an outstanding bit of pass defence from rookie Cordale Flott, who prevented K.J. Osbourne from completing a catch. Then, on fourth down, the coverage from the Giants and pressure from Dexter Lawrence forced Cousins to throw to Hockenson, who was wrapped up by McKinney way short of the first down to extend the Giants’ postseason.

Destination: Philadelphia

Next up for the Giants is a trip back to Philadelphia for their third meeting of the season with their hated divisional rivals, the Eagles.

After being blown away in the first matchup between the two sides in Week 14, the second meeting just over a week ago was a much tighter affair despite the Giants resting all their key starters. With the Eagles coming off a bye week courtesy of their number one seeding in the playoffs, they will have had the added benefit of a week’s rest, but if quarterback Jalen Hurts is still not 100%, the game could swing either way.

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Five Things: Week 15 – New York Giants at Washington Commanders

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It’s back to winning ways for the first time in five weeks for the Giants as they defeat the Washington Commanders 20-12, helped by a monster performance from Kayvon Thibodeaux. Here are five things that stood out. 

Primetime Likes Me  

In the lead-up to Sunday’s critical game, Kayvon Thibodeaux was asked about his first game under the spotlight of Sunday Night Football, and his reply? “Prime time likes me. Y’all can use that one.” By the time the game had finished, it was fair to say that Kayvon had proven exactly what he meant. 

The newly crowned NFC Defensive Player of the Week dominated the game from the get-go with three huge tackles on the Commanders first drive, but the defining moment for the young rookie came during Washington’s third drive in a play scarily similar to one from overtime two weeks ago. 

With Washington backed up on their own 10-yard line thanks to a penalty, Heinicke took the snap, and before he had a chance to set himself, Thibodeaux blew past offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr., swiped the ball out of Heinicke’s hands, followed the fumble across the goal line, scooped it up, and took it in for not only the Giants’ first defensive score this season but Thibodeaux’s first since he had one as a tight end in high school. 

His final stat line for the day? 12 tackles (9 solo), 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 touchdown.  

The 97-Yard Drive  

With the momentum changing after Thibodeaux’s touchdown, there was hope that it would invigorate the offense; however, after the Washington punt was downed on the 3-yard line, most would have expected a quick three and out. That’s not what happened, as Daniel Jones led potentially the best drive of the season so far and the Giants’ longest in eight seasons. 

This was not a high-octane sprint down the field; it was more like a methodical march, with the Giants carving out an 18-play drive that took over eight and a half minutes off the clock with a short pass-heavy attack that included a clutch 4th down conversion to Richie James and culminated in a 3-yard touchdown run with Saquon Barkley lined up in the wildcat. 

It is only fair that Mike Kafka should get some credit for this drive. Kafka, who has made questionable decisions at times, has overall had a successful first season as a play-caller. This is evidenced by the improvement in red-zone touchdown conversion as the Giants have moved from 32nd last year (44.74 percent) to an impressive 8th this year (63.5 percent). 

Spin Move Barkley  

It’s no secret that since his 152-yard showing against the Houston Texans, Barkley just hasn’t been able to get a lot going on the ground, and his stellar rushing season has stuttered. From the season opener to week 10, his average rushing yards per game was 103.4, which has dropped to a measly 38 in the last four weeks, and as such, questions about his durability have begun to be raised again. 

Barkley did little to dispel those rumours in the first three quarters of Sunday’s game, as he was unable to show off his previous explosiveness, rushing 12 times for 39 yards and showing no sign of the shifty cuts he has become known for, aside from one instance during the Giants touchdown drive. In the fourth quarter, though, something switched, and Barkley started not only breaking off some chunk runs but pulling out a trio of Madden-esque spin moves that the Commanders defence could not seem to handle. This invigorated Barkley is what we need as we enter crunch time, and the fire seems to have been lit. 

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The Ending  

It would not be a Giants game without a bit of drama, though, would it? As has been customary for the Giants faithful, we found ourselves in yet another tight game entering the final two minutes and with the score at 20-12 as Washington started what would be their final drive. 

Frustratingly, the Giants seemed to crumble at the worst time, as within three plays (including the kick-off return), Washington was already in the red zone after two plays. As nightmares of another 20-20 game going into overtime started to creep into existence, cornerback Nick McCloud had an excellent opportunity to ice the game but dropped the interception, giving Washington another chance. 

With the hearts of Giants fans firmly in their mouths, Heinicke almost turned into the heartbreaker with a run towards the end zone that looked destined to be converted before the monstrous Thibodeaux crushed him at the 1-yard line. A one-yard touchdown by Brian Robinson was then negated by an illegal formation penalty on Terry McLaurin. Another incomplete pass followed before a controversial non-call on the game-sealing pass breakup by Darnay Holmes that, on reflection, the Giants were lucky to get away with. 

The Unsung Heroes 

With so many big talking points in the game, it’s tough to highlight some of the players that shone in this game, so here are a handful of my unsung heroes: 

  • Landon Collins: Called up from the practise squad for what was billed as a revenge game, made a number of key third-down stops. 
  • Jason Pinnock: In his best game of the season, had a quarterback hit, five total tackles, and forced a fumble. 
  • Richie James: Came up big with a couple of key catches on the 97-yard touchdown drive, including two key first-down catches. 
  • Ben Bredeson: Playing in his first game since October, instantly made the offensive line better while also making a key block on the Barkley touchdown run. 
  • Dexter Lawrence, Azzez Ojulari, and Ryder Anderson: All three got themselves a sack of Heinicke during the game, while Lawrence also forced a fumble that was recovered by Leonard Williams. 
  • Graham Gano: Two 50-yard field goals in the second half, both of which kept us ahead by eight points. 
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Five Things: Week 12 – Thanksgiving: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

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In a game that most expected the Giants to be blown away, it wasn’t as one-sided as first feared but due to a 2nd half collapse, the Giants still lost 20-28 against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Here are five things we learned:

The Good

Let’s be honest, this was a game of two halves, and the first half was mostly very positive from the Giants’ perspective. Sure, it wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but on the whole, the Giants frustrated the Cowboys on both sides of the ball.

After the defense forced a turnover on downs on the Cowboys’ first drive, the unit seemed to galvanize itself and mostly kept the Cowboys’ offence at bay. On five drives, the Cowboys did score a touchdown; however, the Giants forced the aforementioned turnover on downs, two three-and-outs that were punted away, and two interceptions of Dak Prescott on the Giants’ side of the field (one by Rodarius Williams and one by Julian Love), which doubled their season tally.

The offence was a mixed bag, but it was able to put up 13 points on six drives, thanks to two Graham Gano field goals, one of which was a franchise record-tying 57 yards and a touchdown drive to counter Dallas’, which was highlighted by a phenomenal 44-yard catch by the rejuvenated Darius Slayton, who led the team in receiving yards once again.

The Bad

You would have thought that coming out of the locker room for the second half up 13-7 would spur the Giants to carry on their impressive first-half showing, but in reality, what happened was a complete capitulation on both sides of the ball, which Dallas took full advantage of.

The Cowboys again had five drives in a half, but unlike their poor first-half result, this time their drives went like this: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, missed field goal, kneel down to end the game. Once again, the Giants seemed unable to contain the opposition’s tight end corps, which accounted for their three touchdowns. For the Giants, however, there will be one player under the spotlight this week, and that’s Darnay Holmes. Holmes lined up continuously against Cowboy receiver CeeDee Lamb, and Lamb, who finished the game with six catches for 109 yards, always seemed to have the advantage in the matchup. He was able to draw two DPI penalties against Holmes, one of which was potentially the most questionable call we’ve seen by the officials this season.

The Ugly

It’s fair to say that the defense struggled in the second half, but the offence was just downright uninspiring. The running game, which had struggled from the start, was unable to get going as the Giants’ makeshift offensive line yet again was ineffective in being able to open up running lanes, and the passing attack wasn’t much better due to a mixture of pressure and off-target throws.

The Giants’ success is almost entirely tied to the fortunes of Jones and Barkley, and when neither plays well, the offence comes apart at the seams, which makes for unpleasant viewing. This was highlighted by a brutally failed fourth down attempt, in which part of the blame could have been placed on either party. Interestingly, there are whispers amongst the fanbase that Barkley is suffering from a minor injury, as he was nearly rushed by third-stringer Gary Brightwell despite having double the touches behind the same offensive line.

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Thibodeaux’s Breakout is Coming

It’ll be tough for the Giants fanbase to find a plus coming out of this game, but there was one, and that’s the continued development of their fifth overall pick, Kayvon Thibodeaux.

So far this season, Thibodeaux has been a victim of box-score watchers who will look at his stats prior to the Cowboys game, see eight games played, nineteen pressures, three QB hits, and one sack, and label him a bust. However, to really appreciate what Thibodeaux brings to the table for the Giants, you need to look beyond that.

His impact on the Cowboys game was obvious, as he generated pressure on 38.1% of his 21 pass rush snaps (nine pressures, five QB hits), ranking third among all players this season. He now has a 14.0% win rate, which leads all rookies, and this is despite his season only starting in week 3 due to injury. He’s also not been able to line up with fellow edge rusher Azeez Ojulari yet this season, but with Ojulari returning from IR this coming week, some of the attention could be drawn away, which could lead to those near sacks showing up on that pedestalized stat sheet.

It’s In Our Hands

December is always regarded as a crucial month for teams because playoff-clinching scenarios typically begin around this time, but with the exception of practise squad member Landon Collins and current IR delegate Sterling Shepard, who were both part of the last team to do so in 2016, meaningful games for the Giants players as Christmas approaches are relatively unknown. However, on Monday morning, head coach Brian Daboll addressed the players with a simple message: “The season starts now.”

Following an extended Thanksgiving break, the Giants will prepare for four inter-divisional games against playoff rivals the Washington Commanders and NFC East leaders the Philadelphia Eagles, as well as games against the Minnesota Vikings and the Indianapolis Colts.

The key will be how they can get their stuttering roster back into the form that saw them pull off multiple upset wins. Whether this means solving the Barkley/offensive line issue, finding new reliable weapons for Daniel Jones (hello Odell Beckham Jr….), or relying on the imminently returning injured players such as Azeez Ojulari, Ben Brederson, and Daniel Bellinger, something needs to change, and time is of the essence.

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Five Things: Week 10 – Houston Texans at New York Giants

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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.

Bulldozing Barkley

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.

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Sexy Dexy

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.

Schoen’s Additions

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.
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Five Things: Week 6 – Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants

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The Giants’ confidence was sky high after coming off the massive high that was the shock win against the Green Bay Packers in London. Unfortunately, they once again started slowly and, although they walked away with the win here to take their record to 5-1 it wasn’t without drama. Let’s take a look at five things that stood out this week:

Convincing? No. Deserved? Yes.

Offensively, in the first half, the Giants looked largely off the pace as Balitmore constantly kept us from sustaining a drive. Aside from the touchdown drive, which was sparked by Gary Brightwell’s 47-yard kick-off return, the Giants had 14 plays across four drives, including two 3 and outs and one drive at the end of the half that ended with a fumble and recovery, albeit on a meaningless hail-mary attempt.

Continuing the recent trend, we were much better in the 2nd half of the game on both fronts, with the offence converting in the redzone when needed, but again it was the Wink Martindale-led defence that stepped up to the plate late in the 4th quarter. Time was running out after trailing for most of the second half. The breakthrough was made after the Giants secured their first interception of the season and a forced fumble plus recovery on the following Ravens drive, which ultimately stopped their potent attack from scoring again.

The Achilles Heel

As great as it was to get the win, we can’t ignore that for the majority of the game, the Ravens’ rushing attack and their tight ends were having a field day against our linebackers as they gave up chunk play after chunk play.

The Lamar to Mark Andrew connection was in full flow throughout the game, topped off as Andrews hauled in a touchdown early in the 4th quarter. He finished with 106 yards on 7 passes, for a ridiculous 15.1 yards per reception.

On the ground, both Lamar and Kenyan Drake had our number. The journeyman running back, Drake, sliced through our defensive front time and time again, finishing with 119 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Jackson had 77 yards himself on 7 carries, meaning they combined for almost 200 yards at a rate of 11.5 yards a carry.

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Rookies Show Up

It’s been a slow start for some of our rookies thanks to niggling injuries. First rounder Kayvon Thibodeaux only made his debut in week three, and second rounder Wan’Dale Robinson was returning to the line-up after suffering an MCL injury in week one.

Robinson was the first of the rookies to make an impact as he caught a dart from Daniel Jones to tie the game up at 7-7.

Next up was Bellinger, who ended the game as the Giants’ leading receiver with 38 yards on five receptions. He also added a touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter, which took his touchdown streak up to two games in a row.

Lastly, Thibodeaux was a menace all game and consistently got within grasping distance of Lamar Jackson but couldn’t get that elusive first career sack. Just when it looked like it wasn’t going to be his day, he got himself a nice double towards the end of the game as he recorded not only a sack but his first forced fumble too. The icing on the cake for him will have been that it was essentially a game-sealing play.

Barkley and Jones Tough It Out

Both Barkley and Jones came into today’s game nursing slight ailments, with Barkley still feeling the effects of the shoulder injury he sustained in last week’s London game and Jones dealing with both a niggling ankle injury and a scabby turf injury on his hand. On the surface, it looked like Jones’s injury barely bothered him, though it was clear he didn’t have that burst of speed he’d shown in the weeks prior, as he failed to take advantage of some of the holes the Ravens’ defence afforded him.

Barkley, on the other hand, was clearly feeling the effects of his shoulder injury as he had a quiet day compared to the lofty standards he has set for himself so far this season. His longest rush of the game was only 8 yards, as although he carried the ball 22 times, he finished with 83 yards and a touchdown against what had previously this season been a porous Ravens run defence.

Love’ly Jubbly

As mentioned before, the Giants didn’t have a single interception coming into today’s game, and when Fabian Moreau dropped what looked like an easy interception after Mark Andrews’ drop/deflection of a Lamar Jackson pass, it looked like it would never come. Enter Julian Love.

The fourth-year safety from Notre Dame, who leads the Giants in tackles this season alongside cornerback Adoree Jackson, had already made an important play in the 1st quarter, denying what looked like a sure-fire touchdown to Demarcus Robinson by launching himself in front of the receiver. The most important play, though, came late in the fourth quarter, with the Giants still down by three points. Lamar Jackson fumbled a snap and after recovering it, he threw an ill-advised pass up into the air, which Love gratefully accepted and returned 27 yards to the Balitmore 13-yard line. Four plays later, the Giants took the lead, and after Saquon Barkley’s smart football play to slide down before the endzone, the Ravens never saw the ball again.

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Five Things: Week 4 – Chicago Bears at New York Giants

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The Giants went old school this week in their designated Legacy Game and decided that the gameplan should be a throwback too with a hard-hitting ground and pound style offence that ensured their trip to London next week sees them arrive with a winning record. Let’s take a look at how it unfolded:

Stay Outta Our Endzone

3-1 is not something many Giants fans are used to after years of slow starts and disappointing seasons. In fact, this is the best start by a Giants team in 11 years. The strangest thing to note here is that there is only one team with a better record than the Giants currently, and that is one of their hated divisional rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, who are the only remaining team with a perfect 4-0 record.

After the disappointment of the loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the bounce back win against the Chicago Bears was well deserved but wasn’t what you would call convincing. The Giants limped away from this injury-ridden game and were able to hold on to the win despite Chicago’s under-pressure quarterback, Justin Fields, being allowed to record multiple season-high stats in passing attempts, completions, and yards.

Sensational Saquon

Thank God for Saquon Barkley. In this young season, there have been few positive points to make about our playmakers. However, Saquon Barkley has been everything he promised and more. Not a day went by in the preseason without someone questioning if Barkley would ever be able to return to his rookie season form. Barkley’s reply so far? Deafening.

His most impressive play was on a third-down screen pass that should have been blown up for negative yardage, but Barkley shed the would-be tackler and turned it up field for an outstanding first down. It was so good I’ve had to put it in below.

Barkley finished the game with 146 rushing yards on 31 carries, taking his season total so far to an NFL leading 463 yards on 84 carries (also a league high), just ahead of the Cleveland Browns’ Nick Chubb. He also leads the league in all-purpose yards, just ahead of Chubb and the Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill.

Wide Receiver Woes

Well, if the aforementioned Barkley is the star of the show, then the wide receivers are the outcasts, and while some of the blame may be placed on the weather conditions, lack of attempts, or the injuries to the quarterbacks, this is not the first time this season.

Kenny Golladay once again failed to prove his worth with another zero-reception showing before he went off injured. Golladay was targeted once with a high throw, but he didn’t even attempt to go up for it, which either shows his lack of effort or his lack of enthusiasm. Another receiver that should have had a point to prove but failed to grasp his opportunity was Darius Slayton, who finished with one reception for 11 yards and, though he drew a pass interference call, he dropped the makeable catch on the same play that would have likely gone for a touchdown.

Sack City

Coming into Sunday’s game, the Giants had a grand total of three sacks and zero interceptions across three games. This improved massively by the end of the game as the Giants’ defensive front suffocated Bears quarterback Justin Fields, finishing with six sacks and nine quarterback hits which helped restrict Fields to 11 completions on 22 attempts.

Individually, there were outstanding performances across the defense. Dexter Lawrence continued his dominant start to the season with an outstanding showing as he registered two sacks and three QB hits; Jihad Ward and Julian Love continued to both make plays with a sack each; and finally, Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux combined for a strip sack and recovery to halt a promising drive from the Bears in the first quarter.

Injuries Again

In what seems to be a recurring theme, the Giants looked like the walking wounded once again as Evan Neal, Julian Love, Mark Glowinski, Kenny Golladay, Aaron Robinson, Henry Mondeaux, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Tyrod Taylor, and Daniel Jones were all looked at by the medical personnel.

At the moment, it is too early to know how much time some of the players will miss, but the biggest impact from Sunday’s win was without doubt the injuries to the two quarterbacks.

Jones sprained his ankle during a sack as the Bears’ Jaquan Brisker landed on him awkwardly which meant backup Taylor came into the game. Taylor however was quickly removed from the game as he took a shot to the head and was ruled out with a concussion. This meant Jones returned to the fray, but due to his injury, he was unable to do anything but hand the ball off for rushes. Luckily this was enough to help secure the win.

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Five Things: Week 3 – Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

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After a surprising 2-0 start to the season, the New York Giants were brought back down to earth with an uninspiring defeat to NFC East rivals the Dallas Cowboys. Here are five talking points from the game: 

First Half Inadequacies 

For the third straight week, the Giants’ failed to get into the endzone in the first half. After last week’s inability to score a touchdown after two fumbles gave them great field position, this week saw one field goal blocked by the stout Dallas defence before Graham Gano converted from 42-yards in the 2nd quarter. 

The slow start has been addressed by the coaching staff in recent weeks, but they still can’t seem to get any kind of flow or momentum on their side until the second half. So far in this new season, the Giants have been outscored 25-9 in the first half, forcing the coaching staff to have to rally the troops at half time. 

Admittedly, in all three games, the Giants’ offence has been better after the half thanks to adjustments made by the coaching staff, but this week it wasn’t enough as the Cowboys sealed the win, 23-16. 

Daniel Jones Under Pressure 

In what is quite possibly the most important season in Daniel Jones’s relatively short career so far, he will have hoped that this season he would be able to operate under a more robust offensive line than he has had in recent years. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case so far and the Cowboys’ defence smelt blood and unsurprisingly targeted rookie Tackle Evan Neal, who gave up three sacks to Demarcus Lawrence. 

Incredibly, Jones was under pressure constantly on his 24 dropbacks last night. He was sacked five times, hit 12 times, and was never afforded a second to try and stay calm. That dropback rate ended up being 40.5% of the total offensive plays, which is the highest number a Quarterback has faced this season, the 2nd most in the last two seasons and the most of Jones’s career so far. 

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The End for Sterling Shepard? 

With 1:11 left in the game, Daniel Jones was intercepted after a David Sills slip that ended up sealing the game for the Cowboys, but instantly the Giants’ attention shifted to Stirling Shepard, who had suffered a non-contact injury and had stayed on the ground. The cart was called, and for the second straight season, he left a game on the cart. 

Shepard, who fought back from the Achilles tear he suffered last December, has battled with injuries his whole career, and it is likely that this will be the fourth straight season that Shepard misses at least four games after the Giants confirmed that they feared this was a serious knee injury. 

With Shepard leading the team in snaps, receptions, and yards, the Giants will almost certainly need to look for replacements for their underwhelming wide receiver group, which has been plagued by inconsistency and injuries since the start of the season. 

Unsteady D-Line 

There were mixed emotions regarding the defence in the lead up to the game. The excitement for the return of Azeez Ojulari and the debut of Kayvon Thibodeaux was quickly quelled when the news broke that standout Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams would miss his first ever game with a knee injury. 

Williams had appeared in 114 games since his debut in 2015 and was sorely missed as the Giants gave up 178 rushing yards at a rate of 6.4 yards per carry. Unfortunately, it looks unlikely that Williams will return until after the Giants’ trip to London, but you can’t rule it out as he battled through a triceps injury last year and has proven his ability to tough it out if needed. 

Ojulari and Thibodeaux both had quiet games as they combined for two tackles and a pass batted down, but ultimately, the Giants failed to register a single sack of Cowboys backup Quarterback Cooper Rush. 

Rushing Game Joy 

Finishing on a plus, there is one saving grace for the Giants, and it seems to be their ability to run the ball. They are averaging 169.3 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry, both of which are in the top 5 in the league.

The rushing stats are predominantly due to the re-emergence of Saquon Barkley, who had another solid game, finishing with 81 yards on 14 carries, including a 36-yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Barkley currently has 53 carries for 317 yards, which is the 2nd most in the NFL (he is 24 yards behind leader Nick Chubb). 

Interestingly, the Giants’ 2nd leading rusher is Quarterback Daniel Jones, who has 25 carries for 125 yards (4 times the player in 3rd Matt Breida). Jones’s ability to scramble for yards seems to be a predominant offensive focus, and he gained an impressive 79 yards on nine carries in last night’s game.