Grading the New York Giants' 31-19 win over the Washington Commanders.
Better, but not quite worthy of an A. Let's get the negatives out of the way first, starting with zero rushing yards through three quarters--how does that happen with a healthy Saquon Barkley on the roster? Then there were the nine sacks, a combination of quarterback Tommy DeVito holding the ball too long at times and the offensive line simply getting beat.
That said, DeVito did a marvelous job of playing pristine football by not putting the ball on the ground once nor throwing recklessly into traffic. He showed toughness in the wake of the nine sacks and 11 hits he absorbed.
And he quickly settled down after a jumpy type of start to finish 18 of 26 (69.2 percent) for 246 yards and three touchdown passes as the Giants kept most of his pass attempts in the short- to intermediate- range, his three longer throws of the day being a 40-yard touchdown strike to Darius Slayton, a 23-yard strike to Saquon Barkley, and a 26-yard catch by tight end Daniel Bellinger.
On and that lethargic rushing game? It finished with 91 yards on 19 carries in the final quarter of play, 83 of those yards by Barkley, who had a long of 36 yards at the end of the third quarter to jumpstart that facet of the game.
After playing lifeless ball the last two weeks, the defense looked like a brand-new unit. New York recorded four sacks against Washington quarterback Sam Howell as defensive coordinator Wink Martindale went back to his aggressive ways. New York, who had ten takeaways coming into this weekend's game, also managed to record six takeaways, setting its offense up to record 17 of its points off the Commander miscues.
Outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux, who recorded two of the Giants' sacks this week, becomes the first defensive player on a Wink Martindale-coached defense to reach double-digit sacks in a single season. He now has 10.5 sacks on the year and is the first Giants defender to notch double-digit sacks since Leonard Williams (11.5) did so in 2020. Thibodeaux is also the first Giants linebacker to record double-digit sacks since Markus Golden (10) did so in 2019.
Special Teams: B+
Other than for having nine men on the field during a Joey Slye field goal attempt and, you might argue, allowing kickoff returner Byron Pringle to return two kickoffs for 77 yards (38.5 average), the Giants special teams played a solid game.
Randy Bullock's lone field goal attempt from 36 yards was perfect. Jamie Gillan punted seven times, and Washington punt returner Jamison Crowder only had four opportunities to return those punts, calling for a fair catch on two of them and managing zero return yards otherwise on the day.
Gunner Olszewski averaged 8.0 yards on his two punt returns--not bad considering what they were averaging earlier in the year. The Giants didn't get any kickoff return yardage due to all five of Slye's kickoffs being booted into the end zone.
Credit to head coach Brian Daboll and the assistant coaches for keeping this team from feeling sorry for itself in a season gone astray. Further, credit them for not losing the locker room, as some feared might be the case given how some players have spoken of their frustrations during this last losing streak.
Daboll promised they would continue working and competing, and he and the players and coaches delivered the goods. And regardless of what their draft spot is--they fell from No. 2 to No. 5 thanks to this win--that never really mattered, as having a top-five draft pick doesn't necessarily mean you get a stud player. What matters most come draft time is getting the right player to fit your team, regardless of where you pick.
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