There is a sense around the New York Giants after their Monday night win, that while it might be too late to fully redeem the season, the process of rebuilding this team is at least showing some promise.
Hope is just around the corner.
The Giants are now 2-7 on the season. Their 27-23 win at the San Francisco 49ers was far from a perfect performance, especially since San Francisco (2-8) is struggling this season as well. But the Giants played one of their more complete games of the season — and on offense, they showed not just life but consistency.
Beyond Eli Manning, the embattled quarterback whose demise is rumored nearly every week, the Giants offense finally showed up in all phases of the game.
Manning was efficient if not downright tidy in completing 19-for-31 for 188 yards with three touchdowns and the all-important no turnovers. Running back Saquon Barkley added 100 all-purpose yards. Odell Beckham Jr. got on track again with two receiving touchdowns, part of a contingent of targets where five players had multiple catches.
The offensive line had its best game of the season. Guard Jamon Brown, claimed off waivers two weeks ago, was consistent in his pass blocking. Manning had the most time in the pocket he’s had all season, a reason why there was a goose egg in the turnover column.
There was balance and rhythm to the Giants offense for the first time in well over a year.
“When you add a good player like we did to play right guard, it’s important not only you pass protect, but you run block,” head coach Pat Shurmur said.
“For whatever it’s worth, I think Saquon touched the ball 24 times, he only had four receptions. But at the end of the day, if we’re just going to talk about Saquon and his involvement in the game, whether we hand it to him or throw it to him, it really doesn’t matter. You’d like to see your back touch the ball or run the ball close to 20 times, but one of the biggest plays in our last drive was a choice route that he caught and ran down inside the 10. He’s one of those guys, and that’s why I think it’s so important for running backs to be able to catch, that we can throw him the ball. Sometimes if we throw it to him more than we hand it off, so be it, but it’s just important that he touches it.”
The 49ers came into the game with just two wins but the problems haven’t been on the defensive side of the ball for this team. The Giants moved the ball well against a not-so-bad defensive group.
San Francisco entered Week 10 as the No. 13 team in the league in total defense. They were tied for fourth in the league in sacks – ironically with the Giants – with 31 this season. Their secondary isn’t bad either as they were tied for fifth coming into their game against New York with 10 interceptions.
The Giants allowed Manning to be sacked just once and didn’t turn the ball over in the win. Against a pretty solid defense, that is an impressive showing.
On Sunday, they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6), a team going through their own issues on and off the field. But for the first time in a long time, the Giants can see hope in Shurmur’s joint plan with general manager Dave Gettleman.
It likely won’t be an easy ride from here on out, but Monday night’s win is promising.
“Any time you win, it kind of verifies that what you’re doing is right. The reason we all started playing and coaching football is because we love the competition, we love the physical nature of the game, and we love the process of getting ready to play the next opponent,” Shurmur said.
“Then on game day, you put all your energy into winning, all your energy into putting a winning performance on the field, and so I sensed real joy in the locker room yesterday – a bunch of guys that put a lot into it, and we were able to overcome some adversity and win a football game. Hopefully we can get on a little run now and win a few games in a row here and just see what happens. Certainly, when you win, it helps verify and justify that what you’re doing is right.”
[Giants Post Game Live Sunday At 4 PM On MSG & MSG GO.]