It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t clean. It wasn’t even especially satisfying. But the New York Giants finally got their first win of the 2020 season Sunday, beating the Washington Football Team 20-19.
With three and a half minutes left in the game, linebacker Tae Crowder scooped up a fumble caused by Kyler Fackrell‘s strip sack and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. That gave Big Blue a 20-13 lead, but quarterback Kyle Allen led Washington on a 75-yard drive, capped by 22-yard touchdown pass to Cam Sims. Rather than kick the extra point to tie the game and head to overtime, Washington head coach Ron Rivera elected to attempt a two-point conversion. On the two-point try, Allen scrambled to his left, got pressured by Dexter Lawrence, and threw an incomplete pass to noone in particular. New York escaped with the narrow one-point victory, jumping Washington for third place in the NFC East.
This game trudged along at a methodical pace. Each team only had eight offensive possessions. If you take away kneel downs at the end of the first half and the game, the Giants only had six.
Things started out very well for Big Blue. They scored a touchdown and two field goals over their first three drives. But after that, their offense got shutout. Washington’s first two possessions resulted in a missed field goal and an interception, but two second quarter scores (a touchdown and a field goal) left them trailing by only three at halftime.
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The third quarter was scoreless thanks in large part to a Daniel Jones redzone interception wasting a 14-play, 73-yard Giants drive. Washington kicked a game-tying field goal with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, which set the stage for the late-game dramatics.
New York’s 240 total yards of offense looks pretty meager in the boxscore. But this was a low-event, low opportunity game. They actually managed to drive deep into Washington territory on four of their six real possessions. The Giants still need to improve their redzone efficiency. One touchdown in four trips won’t cut it against better competition.
Big Blue’s defense played fairly well. They generated two turnovers, scored a touchdown, and held Washington to just 4.9 yards per play. But their difficulty in getting off the field cropped up once again. They allowed Washington to convert eight of 15 third downs, along with two fourth down conversions on two attempts.
A curious development from this game was rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas‘ apparent benching. Fellow rookie Matt Peart started instead. Thomas still wound up playing most of the snaps. Head coach Joe Judge said after the game that the benching was disciplinary action for a team policy violation. However, Peart seemed to play well in his limited time, and Thomas has struggled for much of the year. It’ll be interesting to see how many more snaps, if any, Peart steals from Thomas hereafter.
Here are your Week 6 “Podium/Sodium Players”, i.e., three players Giants fans would like given a medal for their performances, and three players they might be a bit salty about.
Gold Medal: CB James Bradberry
If Bradberry were on a better team, he’d be a clear early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. He continues to provide sterling coverage on opponents’ top wideouts. This week, he even grabbed an interception to help his boxcore stats. Washington’s number-one receiver, Terry McLaurin, had a decent game with seven catches for 74 yards. But most of that production came when he wasn’t being guarded by Bradberry.
James Bradberry was outstanding yet again on Sunday (@PFF).
A true shutdown corner.
— Vincent Rapisardi (@VinceRapisardi) October 19, 2020
Bradberry has been the best Giant so far this season, and quite frankly it’s not even close.
Silver Medal: ILB Tae Crowder
“Mr. Irrelevant” has been hardly that for Big Blue. He’s provided a spark with his speed and tenacity at the second inside linebacker spot next to Blake Martinez. This performance against Washington is his crowning achievement so far. His scoop-and-score in the fourth quarter was the biggest play of the game. He was also second on the team with ten total tackles, including six solo. If he continues to play well, Crowder can be one of those late-round gems every good team needs to round out their roster.
Bronze Medal: S Logan Ryan
When the Giants signed Ryan just prior to the season, he was billed as a do-everything defensive back that can help a team in several areas. It turns out that reputation is well earned. Ryan was third on the team in tackles with eight, all of them solo. He also got one of Big Blue’s three sacks on the day, and provided quality coverage in the slot. Ryan did get beat on Washington’s last-minute touchdown pass to Sims, but his blanket coverage on McLaurin during the two-point conversion attempt more than made up for it. He even recovered Washington’s desperation onside kick.
Salty: OLB Markus Golden
The Giants’ sack leader from last year had been confined to a smaller role this season playing behind Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines. Golden regained his starter’s spot this week with Carter out for the year and Ximines on injured reserve. Facing a porous Washington offensive line, this game was a great opportunity for Golden to make an impact and petition for more snaps when Ximines comes back. Instead, he was invisible. Golden had no tackles or sacks, and never got any pressure on Allen. New York’s lack of a pass rush is a big reason why Washington had so much success on third and fourth downs. Golden shoulders much of the blame for that.
Saltier: TE Evan Engram
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Engram breakout game probably isn’t going to happen. Whether it’s a matter of usage or the player itself, Engram just isn’t a focal point of Big Blue’s offense, even though his draft status and talent level would suggest he should be. Engram caught a 21-yard pass off a bootleg on the Giants’ first offensive play, but he only made one catch for nine yards after that. Unless he can have a monster second part of this season, Engram is looking like the last in a long line of first-round busts taken by former general manager Jerry Reese.
Saltiest: WR Golden Tate
Tate has the third highest cap hit on the team, but he might be making the lowest impact. He only had one reception for 11 yards. The Giants only threw the ball 19 times, so the volume wasn’t there for him to have a big game. But for New York’s highest paid offensive skill player, one catch is still unacceptable. If Tate doesn’t up his production, it’ll be nearly impossible for the Giants to trade him at the deadline for any return.