There is a lot of credit to run around in New York GiantsA 20-12 victory over the Washington Chiefs on Sunday night. Let’s review our traditional “Kudos & Wet Willies” and see who won it.
Kayvon Thibodeaux – Great players play their best in the biggest moments. The rookie defender showed Sunday night that he can end up being a player with a dominant defensive performance.
His game of 12 tackles (three for loss) included a strip sack recovery/recovery for a touchdown and a touchdown blocking tackle with Washington quarterback Taylor Hynecke at the 1-yard line.
Many have been waiting for a game like this from Thibodeaux. He was not among them.
“No, you never wait. You just keep going. It will come. That’s the one thing vets have passed on to me is ‘how many toys have gone sackless’ that’s New York and people asking you how you feel. That’s it, that’s life. Why? I get here because I’ve been waiting or sitting or wanted to see what happens. I take whatever is given to me. I take whatever is in front of me. There is nothing to be given.”
Thibodeaux was the biggest reason the Giants won Sunday night.
Richie James – You said recently that James has developed a knack for putting together hunts that don’t make sense once games get out of control. Not on Sunday night. James had four receptions for 42 yards. On the Giants’ 97-yard touchdown drive, he had 10 yards on third and 9 and 11 yards on fourth and ninth. James now leads the Giants’ wide receivers with 42 career receptions. He also had a 23-yard kickoff return.
This was a bad night for James.
That’s a 97 yard drive — a thing of beauty, the best of the season for the Giants. Daniel Jones went 10 of 12 lanes on the drive, converting the previously mentioned completions to James. The Giants caught seven first downs. They overcame a false start penalty set by Evan Neal that put them 2nd down and 15. Jones and James tapped coach Brian Daboll to go for it on 4th-and-9 on the Commanders 35-yard line directly with great play. Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka flicked the Wildcat on a 3-yard Saquon Barkley touchdown run. The Giants sailed that entire drive with four yards from Barkley.
This is the best offense the Giants can play.
Daniel Jones – Quarterbacks are judged by their performance in the big games and the big moments, and Jones was as good as he could be on Sunday night. His final base streak (21 of 32 for 160 yards and 10 rushes for 35 yards) doesn’t do his performance justice.
Jones was adept at that 97-yard drive. James’s throws of 3rd-9 and 4th-9 were outstanding. Jones was never fired, but he stood in his pocket and took punishment from Washington traffic rushers when he had to. He ran solid when he had to, never shying away from contact.
Most of all, he protected football. On a night when a turnover from Washington quarterback Taylor Hynecke—and a pass that had to be intercepted by Nick McCloud—made all the difference to the outcome of the game, Jones played football without a turnover.
Count me among those who believe Jones has certainly done enough this season to return as the Giants’ quarterback next season. If you’re still on the fence, or still voting no, I’m not sure what you want to see more of.
Saquon Barkley – Barkley didn’t do much on the floor Sunday night until the Giants needed him badly in the final six minutes. When the Giants needed a drive to control the ball to run some time and put the points on the board after Leonard Williams recovered a Heinicke fumble at the Giants’ 14-yard line, he delivered the Giants’ top playmaker.
Barkley made runs of 12, 15, and 14 yards on consecutive plays to help the Giants run more than four minutes off the clock and get into center for a 50-yard Graham Gano field goal that ultimately gave the Giants an eight-point lead from a win.
GRAHAM GANO – On a cold night in Landover, Maryland, the ever-reliable veteran kicker made two 50-yard field goals in the second half, critical points that forced the Chiefs to punt for touchdowns on their last two possessions.
Jamie Gillan – The Giants’ punter has been inconsistent all season, but he was great Sunday night. He punted five times for a net average of 41.8 yards, and every time he had the opportunity to catch Washington’s offense deep in their own territory, he did. Gillan caught three punts inside the 20-yard line.
offensive line – Against a great Washington defensive line, the Giants didn’t give up their sack and generally gave Jones time to throw. There were, of course, some pressures to let go, but Jones wasn’t under the kind of duress he’s dealt with so often in recent weeks.
On the Giants’ final drive, they cleared space for Barkley to be Barkley and pulled off a time-sucking drive that earned the Giants crucial points.
Tackle Andrew Thomas at left, left guard Nick Gates and Ben Bredison, center John Feliciano, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Evan Neal came in when the Giants needed them.
Landon Collins and Tony Jefferson – Veteran reservoirs gave the Giants defense a different look. Collins played true linebacker and made three tackles on 27 snaps. Jefferson made two tackles and a pass defense. They give the Giants the athleticism they don’t have at quarterback, and both have shown toughness.
Jason Pinnock – Sometimes when a player gets hurt, the team gets really burned. Other times, you discover that the guy he’s replacing is pretty good. The latter is what happened with Pinnock replacing an injured Xavier McKinney.
Pinnock isn’t as good as McKinney, but he’s an excellent player. On Sunday night, he had five tackles, a forced fumble and a third down pass that was defended and removed the Leaders from scoring position and forced a punt. He fell victim to Jahan Dotson for a 61-yard catch, but credited Dotson with a great catch with Pinnock right there.
Dexter Lawrence and Azeez Ojulari – The duo combined to force Heinicke to fumble with Washington at the Giants’ 6-yard line and threaten to take the lead with the Giants leading by five points and just over six minutes remaining.
Lawrence was a presence on the inside, finishing with half a sack, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
Ogollari has been a three-game standout since returning from injury. He had half a sack, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble and four tackles on Sunday.
How excited will Giants fans be to see Thibodeax, a rookie, and Ojulari, a second-year player, terrorize offenses off the rim?
Cady Knox and Thai Siam – Coach Brian Dabul couldn’t stop talking about these two on Sunday night. Siam is the Giants’ director of football data and innovation. Knox is the team’s assistant/offensive game director.
They both communicate directly with Daboll during the games. They have a lot to do with challenges, fourth-rate decisions, and any other analytics decisions the Giants need to make during games.
The Giants won a game-changing challenge on a Heinicki fumble that was initially ruled out by contact and converted a 4th-and-9 at Washington’s 35-yard line Sunday night.
“Yeah, I’d like to say it again all year long. I’ve mentioned these guys before, but [offensive assistant/game manager] kid [Knox] And the [director of football data and innovation] Ty [Siam]They’re really two people I rely on a lot during the week in terms of management, clock management, fourth-order decisions and overtime decisions, Daboll said. “That fourth time we went there was already — we knew we were going to go for it in this very situation on Wednesday after the morning meeting I had with those guys. So everyone contributed to the win. Those two guys were definitely a big part of it.” Two Ivy Leaguers So try listening to Ivy Leaguers.”
Darnay Holmes – Was the intervention passed? Didn’t he pass an intervention? Holmes broke up a Heneke pass to Curtis Samuel in the end zone on Washington’s final offensive play, a fourth-and-goal from the Giants’ 6-yard line, to secure the win.
Wet Willis To …
Darius Slayton – The wide receiver was targeted on Jones’ first two throws, and couldn’t come up with any good passes. Are these passes officially dropped? I don’t know – admittedly, coverage was tight on both plays. These, however, are plays that must be made in big games. Slayton also had a fumble—that he recovered—while finishing on five receptions for only 23 yards, just 4.6 yards per catch.
Run the defense Even with the help of Collins and Jefferson, the Giants’ defense was, as it had been all season, predictably terrible. They are lucky that it did not cost them victory.
The Giants surrendered for 159 yards rushing on 26 carries, 6.1 yards per rushing attempt. Washington rookie Brian Robinson had 12 carries for 89 yards, 7.4 yards per attempt. I think Captains fans and writers are wondering why the starting running back didn’t carry the ball more often on Sunday night. The Giants certainly didn’t stop him.
Evan Neal – Starter right tackle was part of an offensive line that, as mentioned earlier, did a lot of good things on Sunday. Individually, though, the NFL rookie’s education continued as he had a tough night against the Montez Sweets in Washington. A preliminary review by Pro Football Focus showed Neal allowing five total pressures. He also had two wrong penalties.