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Takeaways from the New York Giants' 13-7 Win vs. Philadelphia

The Giants won a close one in what was a significant step forward for them. Some thoughts about the win.

In case there was any doubt, senior offensive assistant Freddie Kitchens was indeed the mystery Giants play-caller.

And as expected, the offense is in a state of transition, as Kitchens and the assistant coaches left behind after the dismissal of Jason Garrett could only change so much in a short work week.

The results on offense weren't that much different. The Giants finished three of 12 on third down and managed 264 yards of net offense. They averaged 4.6 yards per offensive play and were one of three in the red zone.

The Giants defense, perhaps inspired by the great Michel Strahan, whose No. 92 jersey was retired at halftime and whose pre-recorded messages of encouragement were played throughout the game, heeded the Hall of Famer's "Stomp them out!" battle cry by coming up with three interceptions of Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and a huge fourth-quarter forced fumble against running back Boston Scott forced by Dexter Lawrence and recovered by Julian Love with 1:34 left.

Except for the Eagles' lone drive which saw them rush for 66 yards on nine carries as part of a 10-play drive to cut the Giants' lead to 10-7 at the top of the fourth quarter, the Giants defense was dominant.

Hurts finished 14 of 31 for 129 yards and three interceptions. The Giants threw multiple looks and pressure packages that, at times, confused Hurts, leading to the three interceptions by cornerback Darnay Holmes linebacker Tae Crowder and safety Xavier McKinney.

The Giants offense had a chance to close things out late in the fourth quarter when they got the ball back with 1:34 left, but the offense couldn't sustain a drive, and punter Riley Dixon's kick only traveled 38 yards the Eagles getting the ball back at their 41-yard line.

The Eagles managed to stay out of third down on that final drive until 31 seconds was left. Hurts tried to connect Jalen Reagor on a deep pass in the end zone on that play, but McKinney broke it up. On the ensuing fourth down play, Hurst again tried to connect with Reagor only to have rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson knock the ball away to end the Eagles' chances.

The Giants improved to 4-7 while the Eagles saw their short-lived two-game winning streak end as they fell to 5-7

Here are a few additional takeaways...

1. If I had told you at the start of the year that left tackle Andrew Thomas and tight end Chris Myarick, the latter who began his Giants tenure on the practice squad, would each have a touchdown while receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney would not after 12 games, would you have believed me?

Nah, neither would I. But that is indeed the case, and it's a rather damning statement about the state of the Giants offense that they have struggled to get those two receivers into a position to score.

It hasn't helped that each has missed time due to injuries--this week, Toney was inactive with an ankle ailment, whereas earlier in the year, Golladay missed three games with a knee issue. Still, you would have thought that someone on the Giants staff would have figured out how to get those guys open, no?

2. When Giants head coach Joe Judge blasted former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson for compromising the game's competitive integrity last year when he inserted backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld into the game despite still having a chance at winning, he meant business.

So Judge, rather than be hypocritical, followed through on his vow to uphold the spirit of competition, even if the decision might not have sat well with Giants fans.

I'm talking specifically about decisions such as sticking with Nate Solder at right tackle over Matt Peart, giving outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter more snaps than Quincy Roche, and not playing defensive end Raymond Johnson III at all.

All three players mentioned above have shown promise and enough intrigue to warrant a longer look for next year. But whether you agree with him or not, Judge isn't playing for next year.

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While the playoffs seem like a long shot for the Giants, so long as there is a chance of them sneaking in, don't expect Judge to revert to preseason mode where the focus then is on seeing what the team has in younger players that could potentially have a bigger role in the future.

3. It was mildly surprising to see the Eagles, who have rushed for over 200 yards in their last two games before this week, split their run-pass ratio 16-15 in favor of the run.

That yielded 100 net yards of offense in the first half, as the Giants held a 3-0 lead at the half. In the second half, though, the Eagles went back to the running game, rushing 17 times for 121 yards, including nine successful rushes on their 10-play, 66-yard scoring drive that ended on running back Boston Scott's 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Once Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni saw Hurts struggling, the Eagles went back to the zone/read attack to establish the run. The Eagles did end up with 209 rushing yards, 77 by Hurts alone.

But it was surprising that the Eagles seemed to play right into Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham's hands by straying away from the run and leaning toward the pass where Hurts finished 14of 31 for 129 yards and three interceptions.

4. Let's talk about those three Giants interceptions for a moment. The first, by Darnay Holmes, was a perfect read in which the defender inserted himself into the receiver's route while physically running through the catch point.

The second came when linebacker Tae Crowder took advantage of Hurts trying to do too much in the red zone. Crowder’s interception came out flat in man coverage with Hurts under pressure. This proved to be a gigantic mistake because it removed at least three points from the Eagles scoreboard.

The third one was Xavier McKinney driving downhill on a pass and beating the receiver to the football for an interception.

Credit must also be given to the defense for maintaining discipline in containing Hurts when he was in the pocket for most of the game.

And let's not forget giving defensive coordinator Patrick Graham credit for finding a way to work around missing pieces in that defensive secondary--no Logan Ryan (COVID), and both Adoree' Jackson and Darnay Holmes exited the game early.

5. When people look back at the final score of this game, they'll probably snort derisively over the Giants' production, particularly on offense.

But there's something more important to consider about this victory by the Giants. For the first time in a long while, the Giants did not beat themselves, as has been a recurring theme this season.

There were no turnovers, no botched usage of timeouts, and no major mistakes. Was it a clean game? No. But the mistakes the Giants did make they were able to overcome.

That might not sound like a step forward, but for a young team that is still trying to learn how to win games, it was a step in the right direction for a couple looking to begin stacking together better showings in the not-too-distant future.


 

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