The Giants may be facing a 3-6 team, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t prepared to look past Big Blue, especially after New York’s surprise showing on Monday night.
They emerged on the right side of a scoreline — a 27-23 victory over the two-win San Francisco 49ers — changing the narrative around this team.
Now, if the Giants want to turn this into their first winning streak of the year, they will need the same level of contributions as well as balance on the offensive side of the ball.
The defense, shaky at times in the Monday night win, will need to execute better and cut back on errors.
It was fairly cut and dry from the Giants in getting their second win of the season.
More than anything, the Giants protected quarterback Eli Manning and the offense didn’t turn over the ball. In a season plagued by sacks allowed and bad interceptions, the Giants found a recipe for success that might help them finish out the season on a high note.
It all means that the rebuild, which began in earnest a month ago with the trades of nose tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Eli Apple, has given this team a sense of direction and purpose.
Yes, the Giants want to win games this year. They just are willing to do it with a younger, leaner roster as they eye next year and beyond.
All of which can make them a dangerous team. Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter is aware that the Giants team he watched on Monday night looks like one that has turned a corner.
“This is a week to week league,” Koetter said on a conference call with the New York media.
“We got beat by two scores by Carolina two weeks ago and Carolina was sitting at 6-2. I thought they were playing as good as any team we had played and then they go up and play the Steelers on Thursday night and it wasn’t even a close game. You have to respect the talent that the Giants have on offense. Their explosiveness between the wideouts, the tight end, and of course the running back. Those guys are very explosive and any time you have players that can change the game or create a big play on any single play, you have to be very worried about it. Then, of course, they’ve got an extremely experienced quarterback in Eli.”
Koetter said the first time he’s seen the Giants this year was the Monday night game.
That win in San Francisco was a rare complete effort from the Giants. Not only was Manning protected in the pocket — sacked just once — and there were no turnovers, but the Giants moved the ball effectively and efficiently. They ran the ball well enough and gone were glaring miscues such as bad drops.
Yes, Manning wasn’t perfect and missed some throws and running back Saquon Barkley didn’t put up big numbers, but there was an efficiency to the offense that has been missing since, well, 2016.
A reason for hope for fans and caution for opponents who might have chalked this team up to an easy win on their schedule.
“I thought [the Giants] played really well in the 49er game. They hung in there,” Koetter said.
“Their defense is extremely sound, very hard to get them out of position, playing well together. The other thing about the Giants, other than the changes on the O line, they are relatively healthy. Their main players have stayed healthy for the most part compared to some of the other teams in the league, and it just looked like they did a really good job of putting it together with their offensive skill players in the 49er game. They got the ball to their playmakers and those playmakers made plays.”
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