Rewind: The Play That Secured the Giants' First Win
The Giants have some history with making last-second stops against Washington to claim their first win of a season.
As was the case in their 2007 Super Bowl year, the Giants, after starting 0-2, had to hold Washington out of the end zone to preserve a 17-13 victory.
The defense did its job and rode the momentum from that stop to a historic championship run.
While the 2020 Giants are much farther off from a Super Bowl, the team did uphold a moment of charming resemblance to secure its first win, keeping Washington out of the end zone on a two-point conversion try to hold on to a 20-19 victory on Sunday.
With the game on the line, Washington dialed up a passing play, but the Giants' defense was in the exact position it needed to be in to cover it up and force an incompletion.
The Giants had only just installed the defensive play they used to prevent the conversion in practice that week, and it proved to be perfect timing as it proved to be the play that saved the game.
"I was actually expecting them to go for two," said head coach Joe Judge.
"I thought [Defensive Coordinator] Pat [Graham] made a great call on the two-point conversion, that's actually a call we put in this week. I thought the guys matched it and played it very well. We got some pressure from the line. I saw the DB did a good job getting the initial coverage."
The Giants' defensive backs came out in man-to-man coverage and locked up Washington's receivers, forcing quarterback Kyle Allen to roll to his left to buy time. Even then the Giants' defensive backs were able to stay stride-for-stride with Washington's receivers, and Allen had nowhere to with the ball.
Allen even admitted that he contemplated running it into the endzone himself. But safety Jabrill Peppers managed to stay in front of Allen and force him to hesitate.
Peppers' containment on Allen allowed linebacker Blake Martinez and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to close in on Allen, make contact, and force Allen to throw a pass that floated to the turf of MetLife Stadium's end zone.
Giants top cornerback James Bradberry was on tight coverage against Washington wide receiver Cam Sims who had previously just scored the touchdown and was confident that Lawrence would run down Allen to stop the play in time.
"Any time you have a mobile quarterback that can get out the pocket, it definitely puts stress on the linemen and also on the DB's," Bradberry said.
"[Lawrence], I feel like he is a great pass rusher, a great defensive lineman. Any time you have a quarterback that's going to get out of the pocket, I feel like he is going to run him down."
As far as Martinez's pressure, that was less scheme and more just heads up improvisation by the Giants' defensive captain.
Martinez began the play in coverage against running back Antonio Gibson.
Shortly after Gibson broke on his route, Martinez bumped into Gibson and knocked him to the ground. Simultaneously, linebacker David Mayo came over to assume coverage duties on Gibson as he recovered from the fall.
Meanwhile, Martinez, who noticed that Allen was in scramble mode, joined Peppers and Lawrence, sprinting to the other side of the field to get in Allen's face and helped force the bad pass.
"Roughly, it's a combo call right there where, in terms of that flat responsibility based on the way the play comes out," Judge said of the pressure on Allen.
"Different guys can take it, so it's kind of a different hybrid of a zone right there for us. But both guys did a good job breaking on it."
The play's hero was defensive back Logan Ryan, who held down coverage of Washington's leading wide receiver Terry McLaurin just long enough for the rush to get there.
McLaurin was lined up in the slot and broke to the left on the initial snap. It was evident that Allen was looking for his top target in McLaurin right from the get-go, but Ryan stayed tight and physical with the young wide receiver through his route.
After the first few initial seconds of the play, McLaurin was forced to abandon his route and began improvising to try and get open. Still, Ryan stayed with him even through his changes in direction until the end of the play with McLaurin in the back left corner of the end zone.
"They were trying to work [Washington WR Terry] McLaurin on kind of hesitation and work out to the flat right there," Judge said. "I think it was [DB] Logan [Ryan] on him at that point right there and did a good job covering him."
Ryan tripped and fell in the final second, but the rush had gotten in Allen's face and ended the play by then.
Ryan's coverage was essentially the main component for the Giants' defensive stop. It was a clear illustration of his veteran poise and effort at a critical situation, even after giving Sims the touchdown on the previous play.