Giants takeaways in 13-7 win over Eagles, including a stout defensive performance

·6 min read
Members of Giants secondary celebrate win over Philly at MetLife
Members of Giants secondary celebrate win over Philly at MetLife

Freddie Kitchens’ version of the Giants offense looked just as bad as Jason Garrett’s offense.

But Patrick Graham’s defense more than picked up the slack.

The defense may have been overlooked all week, but it stole the show on Sunday afternoon with its most dominant performance of the season. On the day the Giants retired the number of Michael Strahan, one of their greatest defensive players ever, the defense gave one of its finest performances of the season. They picked off three Jalen Hurts passes, forced four turnovers overall, and held the Eagles to just 332 total yards, while carrying their own offense to a 13-7 win.

And the Giants needed every bit of it to pull this game out, because the change in play callers didn’t give them much of a jolt. The defense stepped up from the start, though, shutting the Eagles out in the first half. In fact, there was really only one drive all game where the Giants defense wasn’t dominant – a 66-yarder when the Eagles ran on nine of 10 plays.

That was a brutal series, but for most of the game it was the defense that was delivering the punishment. They not only kept Hurts looking confused (14 of 31, 129 yards, three interceptions) but they seemed to make it a point to hammer him every time he was out of the pocket. They also chased him out a lot too with an array of blitzes.

Their pass rush is still a long ways from being great, but in this game it at least looked good.

And as a result, they ended up with three pretty easy interceptions – one each by cornerback Darnay Holmes, linebacker Tae Crowder and safety Xavier McKinney. The first two of those came right in front of the end zone when the Eagles were threatening to score.

They even came up huge at the end of the game, starting right after the Eagles crossed midfield with less than two minutes to go in the game. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence hit Eagles running back Boston Scott from behind and forced a fumble that landed in the hands of Giants safety Julian Love with 1:34 remaining.

And even after the Eagles got the ball back with 1:11 to go at their own 41, the Giants’ defense held its ground – though to be fair, Hurts did hit receiver Jalen Reagor in the hands twice in the end zone and he dropped both passes. The Giants, though, dropped a couple of interceptions on their own on that drive, too.

In the end, it is all still too little, too late, of course. At 4-7 the Giants aren’t mathematically eliminated, but they’re getting close. And with the way their offense is playing, they’re not likely to make an end-of-season run anyway, even against a somewhat soft schedule.

But just like last year, they’re starting to show that they have a defense good enough to win with – if only they had an offense that could do anything at all.

Here are some more takeaways from the Giants’ latest win …

  • Kitchens was not going to change the fortunes of this offense in one short week, but it was surprising that the offense didn’t even get much of a spark from the firing of Garrett and the elevation of Kitchens to the primary play caller. The Giants finished with just 264 yards and it was hard to find anything other than very subtle differences. Quarterback Daniel Jones looked as average as always, completing 19 of 30 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown. That’s hardly a big change.

  • One big change everyone expected from Kitchens is that he’d find a way to get WR Kenny Golladay involved much more after he had only been targeted twice in Garrett’s finale. And he was, though he still wasn’t very productive. He was targeted twice on the Giants’ first trip in to the red zone, and had another fade thrown to him in the end zone later in the game. He dropped one and the other two were broken up. The Giants did go to him for back-to-back, 18-yard catches on their fourth quarter field goal drive. That was nice. But in all, he still only caught three passes for 50 yards. They didn’t give him a $72 million contract for performances like that.

  • Saquon Barkley had his most Saquon-like run of the season in the first half when he started up the middle, leaned to the right and then bounced outside to the left and up the sidelines for 32 yards. It had everything: The quick moves, the elusiveness, the burst of speed. It just wasn’t enough. Barkley only rushed 13 times for 40 yards. That means he had eight yards on his other 12 carries. It really looks like the Giants are just afraid to run behind their bad offensive line. And honestly, it’s hard to blame them given the results.

  • Some nice early aggression by Kitchens: On the opening drive, they went for it on 4th and 1 from the Eagles 34 and got the first down with a quarterback sneak. However, a few drives later, they didn’t go for it on 4th and 3 from the Eagles 33, settling for a 51-yard field goal attempt that Graham Gano pushed wide right.

  • Kitchens’ first big play as the Giants’ play-caller was certainly an odd one. It was a flea flicker that set up … a screen pass? It worked. Jones handed the ball to Barkley, who flipped it back to Jones, as three offensive linemen set up in front of tight end Evan Engram, who took the short pass and made it a 20-yard gain. Flea flickers are usually used to draw the defense in and set up something deep, but hey, whatever works?

  • It will make for a great highlight, but the touchdown catch by TE Chris Myarick was really a terrible play by him. The ball hit him right in the gut and somehow he let it slipped through his hands. It was mere fortune that the ball hit his leg and not the ground.

  • The Giants’ two touchdowns the last two weeks have come from left tackle Andrew Thomas and Myarick, their fourth tight end. Now each of them has more touchdown catches this season than Golladay and Kadarius Toney combined. That says a lot about this offense, and none of it is good.

  • I don’t understand Eagles coach Nick Sirianni at all. He called for 11 passes on the first 15 plays of the game, even though the Eagles turned their season around by running the ball. In fact, they ran 67 percent of the time while winning three of their previous four. When he finally remembered that, the Eagles had a drive on which they ran on 9 of 10 plays for 66 yards and they scored their lone touchdown. He even had one series where he called pass plays on 3rd and 2 and 4th and 2 from the Giants’ 40. I mean, it’s clear what his team does best and what it really can’t do at all. It’s like he’s never done any self-scouting of his offense.

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