With a winless streak of four games (0-3-1), the NY Football Giants traveled to Washington, DC to play the Commanders Sunday night. Prior to the game, Brian Daboll shaved his beard down to a simple goatee looking to change the Giants’ karma. The result was a win for the Giants, an 88% chance to make the playoffs, and an excited fan base heading into the Christmas holiday.
This was a full team effort with the defense, offense, and special teams all delivering in big moments. Again, this game came down to a big stop defending the red zone as Washington pressed for a late touchdown, but was denied by solid defense and the Commanders’ own miscues. The Giants now control their own playoff destiny. They will need one more win versus either the Vikings, Colts, or Eagles in their final three games to assure themselves of their first playoff spot since 2016.
Defense Starts Slow But Comes Up Big
The Giants looked confused in the first two Commanders’ drives. This led to chunk plays that got the Commanders 41 yards to the Giants 31-yard line. But a timely sack by DL Ryder Anderson forced the Commanders to punt. Washington’s next drive netted them 47 yards and three points to take a short-lived lead. Then the Giants’ defense woke up. Kayvon Thibodeaux, in particular, had a stellar night. Kayvon had 12 tackles which included a strip sack, a forced fumble of Washington QB Taylor Heineke, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown…all in the same play. The Giants had three sacks and several QB pressures in this game.
And in the fourth quarter, they came up big with two deep red zone stops including another Heineke fumble (great challenge by the Giants head coach sporting his new goatee).
Offense Plays Deliberate Small Ball Game
Although the Giants were outgained by the Commanders, they led in time of possession, never gave the ball up, and did not give up a sack. Daniel Jones was efficient with the ball completing 66% of his passes and picking key moments to run. His decision-making was solid throughout the game, choosing to throw the ball away rather than taking negative yardage sacks. Ben Bredeson, LG, returned for this game and helped the interior offensive line keep Jones on his feet and gave Saquon some fourth-quarter holes to back-to-back-to-back first down runs. While Jones threw 32 passes, the Giants chose not to try one downfield pass attempt over 12 yards last night. This was in itself a big reason for no sacks.
Saquon Barkley accounted for 120 yards on 23 touches (18 rushes and 5 receptions) and a wildcat touchdown. With just over six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, he took over and ran for first downs on three successive plays (12 yards, 15 yards, and 14 yards). Add a timely Daniel Jones run for the next first down, and the Giants were in a position for their final three points.
Graham Gano is Solid Yet Again
Special Teams had a mixed night of good plays and plays that left you nervous and anxious. Graham Gano hit on two 50-yard field goals in the second half. WR/PR Richie James had a very good punt return, but also let a punt land at the Giants’ 19-yard line and roll down to the Giants’ 1-yard line. Kick and punt coverage was a mixed bag with some good stops and one very nervous kick return after the Giants’ last field goal.
Daboll Resorts to Drastic Measures
Let’s start with the decision to go for it on a fourth and nine at the Commanders’ 35-yard line. Dabs said after the game this decision was made mid-week if the conditions ever came up. Jones’ pass to Richie James was executed to perfection which kept an 18-play, 97-yard drive alive. Saquon’s wildcat touchdown put an exclamation point on that drive.
When Daboll took the podium after the game, it was really the first time anyone really noticed his new look. As Daboll left the podium and Daniel Jones was heading to it, Jones looked at Daboll and told him he has to keep the goatee. Daboll later told the media that you try to do anything to change the results. He did admit that his wife and daughters are not happy with the new look. He also shared that it almost became just a mustache.
As for me, I’ll need to change my Fantasy Football Team name from Yukon Dabs to something else now. But I love this coach and how he handles his team.
The Giants head to Minnesota to play the Vikings on Christmas Eve.