The New York Giants did just enough to defeat the Houston Texans on Sunday, taking their record to 7-2. There have been several standout performances by Giants players. Let’s review the game in our traditional “Kudos & Wet Willies” style to discuss.
Saquon Barkley — Sunday wasn’t flashy Saquon. It was like a worker, do the job Saquon. I’m not sure Barkley would have a game like this in 2018 when it was a home run or a bust. Remember that criticism that Barkley didn’t go north and south often enough and didn’t even really know how to play running back? He looked silly all season, never more than he did against the Texans.
It’s fun to watch Barkley smash big runs and have defenders only attack in the air. Personally, though, I appreciate what he did on Sunday even more, taking the charge with a career-high 35 carries for 152 yards.
Darius Slayton – Slayton’s 54-yard touchdown, taking advantage of a missed tackle, then using speed and determination to get into the end zone, was a play that finally gave the Giants some much-needed breathing space. He finished with three catches for 95 yards.
Slayton now has 19 receptions for a team-leading 327 yards, though he didn’t make his first catch until Week 4.
Isaiah Hodgins – The Giants’ newest wide receiver received two passes in his direction on Sunday. He made big plays on both, getting first downs and gaining a total of 41 yards.
Dexter Lawrence — Kayvon Thibodeaux mentioned Aaron Donald when talking about Lawrence. It’s a bit of rookie hyperbole, but still remarkable. Julian Love called Lawrence “the best guy in the league” and said Lawrence “hasn’t been talked about enough in recent years”.
Lawrence had a sack, five tackles (one for a loss), five quarterback hits and, according to Pro Football Focus, an incredible eight pressures.
Lawrence said he wanted to destroy the games. It’s hard to imagine him doing more to destroy one for the opposition than he did on Sunday.
Lawrence Cager – He’s not going to be the ‘tight end of practice squad Lawrence Cager’ for long. Cager had a 9-yard touchdown, led the Giants tight ends with 43 snaps played and recovered an onside kick.
Leonard Williams – Big Cat was easy to ignore with Lawrence’s dominating performance, but he was exceptional on his own. He had nine tackles (five solo), one quarterback hit and forced a fourth-quarter fumble that ended a Houston drive at the Giants 10-yard line.
Daniel Jones – You can’t post huge passing numbers or rushing numbers if you aren’t asked to. Jones was not asked to do so on Sunday. The thing is, what he was asked to do, he did extraordinarily well. Jones went 13 of 17 (76.4 percent completion) for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns. He ran 24 meters. He finished the game with a passer rating of 153.3. Pro Football Focus listed him with an adjusted completion percentage of 88.7.
Jones continued to play quarterback as Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka needed, and he continued to help the Giants win.
Jason Pinnock – After playing just one snap defensively all season, the Giants called on Pinnock to play 23 snaps on Sunday with Xavier McKinney out. He ended up showing passing chops, with 1.5 sacks and a pair of quarterback hits. “Congratulations” also to defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. Pinnock’s performance is just another example of the Giants coaching staff taking every player they have, determining the skills they bring to the table, and freeing them up to do what they do best.
Dane Belton – Rookie safety played 64 snaps as McKinney’s primary backup. He made a huge Davis Mills interception in the end zone, stifling a potential touchdown that would have put Houston within four points with 9:55 left.
It came one play after Belton, in center field, was late to come in on a 19-yard pass to Brandin Cooks for a touchdown, a play that was canceled by a hold call on Houston’s Kenyon Green.
A review. Someone needs to teach Iowa’s fourth-round pick how to celebrate. Earlier this year, after recovering a fumble on his first NFL game, Belton made a rookie error and failed to keep the ball. On Sunday, after his interception in the end zone, he ran to the other end zone to celebrate, instead of turning around and assaulting the cameras where he was.
“We attacked him because he ran 100 yards the other way to get in front of the cameras, instead of turning around and running 10 yards and there are cameras,” his teammate said. Julian Love. “So I didn’t pursue him. I was like, yeah, he can have it.
Wet Willies at…
Kenny Golladay — There’s not much to say. Golladay had a huge opportunity to contribute on Sunday and couldn’t. His lost pass should have been an easy catch for a significant gain. The game benched him.
It’s unclear if, or when, Golladay will get another real chance. Golladay is frustrated – no one wants to play badly – and thinks he can still be a productive player. However, he may have missed opportunities to prove it.
Jamie Gillan – NFL bettors don’t just blast the ball down the field not knowing where it should land. They must be able to hit different types of punts, placing the ball where it needs to be based on the situation and the call. Gillan struggled to do that on Sunday.
In the second quarter, Gillan had two poor punts. The first was a 40-yarder who went for a touchdown and never came close to giving the Giants a chance to put him down. The second, still from the Houston 40-yard line, went just 14 yards. Gillan returned punts for 13 and 10 yards and finished with a net average of just 34.2 yards per punt.
The Scottish Hammer can bomb the ball. The problem may be that you can’t be sure where the ball is going or if Gillan can execute when the touchdown is required. These problems surfaced on Sunday.
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