The New York Giants won the turnover battle 5-0 over the Washington Football Team on Sunday. They needed every one of those takeaways to eke out a 23-20 victory against their divisional rivals.
A major story from this game is the potentially season-ending injury suffered by Washington’s quarterback Kyle Allen. With just over a minute left in the first quarter, safety Jabrill Peppers came on blitz and was tripped up by running back Antonio Gibson. As Peppers tumbled to the turf, his right leg whipped around and caught Allen in the left shin. The impact felled Allen and caused his left ankle to dislocate, similar to the injury Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott sustained against the Giants in Week 5. Allen was replaced by the 36-year old veteran Alex Smith, who himself is returning from career-threatening leg injury he suffered in 2018.
New York dominated the first half, controlling the ball for nearly 19 minutes and gaining 249 yards to Washington’s 122. The Giants started with a 40-yard drive to Washington’s 35-yard line. They then turned the ball over on downs as Dion Lewis got stuffed on a fourth-and-1 rushing attempt. Washington promptly gave the ball back. After a 21-yard catch and run, Gibson fumbled which led to a madcap scramble for the ball down the left sideline. Peppers eventually recovered all the way back at the Giants 19-yard line. New York capitalized on the turnover with a field goal, thanks mostly to a 50-yard pass to undrafted rookie Austin Mack.
The Giants next score also came after a Washington turnover. With about five and a half minutes left in the first quarter, Isaiah Wright muffed a punt which gave New York possession at Washington’s 16-yard line. Wayne Gallman capped the ensuing possession with a two-yard touchdown run, giving Big Blue an early 10-0 lead.
The teams traded field goals over the next two possessions, but the final score of the half came on a 10-play, 77-yard Giants march that ended on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Evan Engram. Washington did answer with a drive deep into New York territory, but an interception by Blake Martinez kept the score at 20-3 going into halftime.
The game turned drastically in the second half. Washington gained 265 yards to just 91 for the Giants. They nearly completed the 17-point comeback had it not been for two critical late-game interceptions by Smith. Washington opened the half with a quick touchdown drive aided by a 45-yard reception by Cam Sims and capped by a 1-yard Gibson run.
After the teams then traded field goals, Washington’s star receiver Terry McLaurin turned a 20-yard catch into a 68-yard touchdown by breaking a tackle and running away from New York’s defense. That made the score 23-20 with 10:24 left in the game.
Despite scoring zero points in the last 20 minutes, the Giants held on for a victory thanks to huge plays from two of their defensive leaders. With 2:18 left, Smith floated a pass under pressure over the head of J.D. McKissic. Peppers, who had a tremendous all-around game, picked off the overthrow and gave the Giants possession at their own 46-yard line. New York then went three and out, and punted the ball back to Washington with 1:48 left. On just the second play of the ensuing possession, Logan Ryan stepped in front of a forced pass to McLaurin for the game-sealing interception.
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The Giants have now taken five straight games over Washington. Despite Big Blue’s still dismal 2-7 record, this win keeps them in the heart of the NFC East race. New York plays the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles at home next week. Should the Giants win, they’ll be only a half-game back of first place with six games remaining. Somehow, this team is only a win away from playing meaningful post-Thanksgiving football.
Here are your Week 9 “Podium/Sodium Players”, i.e., three players Giants fans want rewarded for their efforts, and three they’re a bit salty about.
Gold Medal: S Jabrill Peppers
Peppers backed up a terrific performance last Monday night with an even better effort on Sunday. With his fumble recovery and interception, the strong safety had a hand in two of the Giants five takeaways. He also had six tackles, including four solo, and led the team with three passes defended. The former Cleveland Brown has truly emerged as a leader for this defense. There were murmurs he could be a potential trade candidate before last week’s deadline, but if he keeps playing like this he won’t be going anywhere.
Silver Medal: S/CB Logan Ryan
Ryan is another member of New York’s defensive backfield who made impact plays throughout the game. He caused the fumble by Gibson in the first quarter, and of course had the clinching interception. The Rutgers product also had six tackles, including five solo and registered two passes defended. It’s been a tumultuous week for Ryan, whose wife had to have emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, which can be life threatening. Thankfully she is now recovering well from a sucessful operation, and Ryan was able to dedicate his game-winning pick to her. The former Tennessee Titan was signed to just a one-year deal before the season. Based on his level of play and versatility, the Giants would be wise to try to bring him back.
Bronze Medal: RB Wayne Gallman
New York’s rushing attack was effective once again on Sunday, going for 166 total yards. A big part of that was Gallman, who continues to run hard in Saquon Barkley‘s absence. The Clemson product ran for 68 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown. The Giants split touches between him and veteran Alfred Morris, who himself was very good with 67 yards on 9 carries. Big Blue’s emerging power running game is the main reason why their offense has been so much better than it was early in the year. Gallman’s straight-ahead, no-nonsense style suits it perfectly.
Salty: WR Darius Slayton
Slayton had just one catch for six yards on the day, and was only targeted twice. There’s been talk of him potentially becoming the Giants number-one receiver. These types of games that make one question that notion. The second-year pro too often makes little to no impact. Slayton shows plenty of flashes, but consistency is the critical next step in his development.
Saltier: CB Isaac Yiadom
Yiadom made his second consecutive start on Sunday in place of Ryan Lewis, who was put on injured reserve with a hamstring issue. Yiadom had the job before Lewis took over. It’s pretty clear why he lost it in the first place. He badly misplayed the ball in the air on McLaurin’s touchdown, and then couldn’t make the tackle once the catch was made. He also got burned by Sims for a couple big plays. The former Denver Bronco did show his physicality from the corner position with six tackles, including half a sack. But he’s been a liability in coverage more often than not.
Saltiest: TE Evan Engram
The year from hell continues for Engram. The tight end had multiple drops that just aren’t acceptable from a professional pass catcher. He helped stall the Giants’ opening possession on a play in which he failed to get his feet in bounds. On the Giants’ third possession, he bobbled a ball up in the air that was nearly intercepted. In the fourth quarter, he dropped what would’ve been a 20-yard completion setting the Giants up deep in Washington territory. The Ole Miss product did have a fairly productive day, catching five passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. His issues catching the football, however, have already cost the team at least one game. They almost cost them this one too.