Written by: Glenn Warciski
The Giants stopped the avalanche of losses by defeating the Denver Broncos 23-10 in front of a stunned crowd at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. This improbable win, which brings the team to 1-5 ( they were 14 point underdogs) breathes some life into what has become a forgettable season. Furthermore, it came against a quality Denver team and will be memorable.
The Giants, as a team, overcame adversity. The injuries, which decimated the Giants wide-receiver corps. Ben McAdoo suspension of cornerback DRC. In addition to the injured wide receivers, (OBJ, Marshall, Shepard and Harris), the Giants were without starting center Richburg, RB Paul Perkins, DE Olivier Vernon, LB Jonathan Casillas. Needless to say, the Giants were playing with fringe players and they played with a sense of urgency, getting off to a fast start and never trailing in this game. By doing so, they took the crowd out of the game and got an impressive win.
What was important?
When the Giants had their first possession, NBC play-by-play announcer Al Michaels revealed Ben McAdoo relinquished his playcalling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. This was a big reveal. Credit the Giants for keeping things tight lipped. The gambit of switching playcallers paid off. What Sullivan did was establish an identity for the Giants by running the football, which they did well.
The Giants gained a season-best 148 yards rushing against the best rush defense in the NFL. Leading the charge was journeyman and now starting running back Orleans Darkwa. He was impressive, gaining 117 yards on 21 carries. In order for him to be successful, the Giants decided to reshuffle their offensive line. Justin Pugh at RT, DJ Fluker at RG and Brett Jones at C. Jerry remained at LG and Flowers at LT. This seemed to do the trick. Going forward, look for the Giants to continue to run the ball. This is their identity. This is Giants football.
The other important item of note is the Giants commitment to stop the run. Going into this game, the Giants rush defense was ranked 28th in the NFL. Last night, they held the Broncos to 46 yards rushing. Now this is Giants defense: stop the run. During the week, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo game planned to make adjustments to his defense, and those adjustments paid off.
Speaking of making adjustments, Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins made the play of the game. He jumped a passing route and made an interception, returning it 43 yards for a touchdown. This proved to be the turning point in the game. The Giants lead convincingly 17-3 at the half and never trailed. I thought the Broncos were going to get a score, but Jenkins made sure this did not happen. In a week in which he was criticized for leaving the field early in the waning moments against the Chargers, he played like an all-pro.
I believe it was John Mara forcing Ben McAdoo’s hand to make the playcalling switch. The Giants were so bad, especially against a lowly Chargers team; Mara had seen enough. A change was needed, and I am sure Mara had input with regard to the Giants getting an identity on offense. Run the ball. Do not let Eli throw 50 plus times. Get some stability with the offensive line. Indeed, the Giants had become a laughingstock. Analysts like Shaun O’Hara, Brian Baldinger and Steve Smith, Sr. were very vocal about this dreadful Giants offense.
JPP finally showed up. For the first five games of the year, he has been wearing an invisibility cloak. When the Giants needed him in tight games versus Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, he was nowhere to be seen. He had 1.5 sacks through five games. Well, last night versus Denver, he collected THREE sacks, which was a welcome sight.
Turnover differential. Coming into last night’s game, the Giants were 25th in the NFL with a NEGATIVE 3 turnover differential. Against Denver, they changed things around 360 degrees, going to a PLUS 3.
Eli Manning was efficient. He went 11 for 19, 128 yards, with one TD and NO interceptions. Again, the Giants made a commitment to run the football. In order for them to have continued success, this is the formula they have to use. Run the football, and use Eli as a complimentary piece.
Sullivan. I called for his firing after last season. The Giants struggled to score points last year, averaging 16 points per game, with a 13 points per game average in their last six games. The Giants needed fresh ideas to help McAdoo. Last night, Sullivan’s offense, albeit without firepower from the WR position, managed only 16 points and gained 266 yards of offense. The Giants were 4-14 on third down, a pitiful 28% conversion rate. This is nothing to get excited about. What is exciting is the Giants getting back to an identity with running the ball and feeding Darkwa.
Evan Engram. The first-round selection had a coming-out party against Denver. He caught five balls for 82 yards, and gave the Giants their only offensive touchdown. Going forward, he will be the Giants main guy when they need to make a play. Despite playing well, he had one key drop late in the game, which would have kept a drive going. Otherwise, it was an impressive showing by the rookie.