NY Giants 14, Houston Texans 10: Daniel Jones-to-Darius Slayton TD the difference right now
EAST RUTHERFORD – The Giants return to action after their bye week in position to challenge for their first playoff berth in six years, and with a reminder that there are no layups in the NFL, regardless of what the records say.
The Texans, with their 1-6-1 record, certainly represent an opponent Big Blue has to beat to maintain its surprising yet strong start in the first of back-to-back games at MetLife Stadium in which they should be favored. The Giants (6-2) are 4.5-point favorites, according to Tipico Sportsbook.
“It goes back to the consistency approach. Every team in this league is good. Any team can win any given day,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “If you play well, you put yourself as having a chance to win. It doesn’t guarantee anything. And if you play lousy, you’re probably going to lose. And we just focus on the things we need to do each week – some of them are consistent. They never change based on who we’re playing. Some of them are game plan specific. If we hit those marks, we give ourselves a chance. And if we don’t, we lose. Pretty simple.”
Here are things to watch, and keep checking back for live updates throughout the game:
It was a great play by Darius Slayton, obviously, but rewatching his 54-yard touchdown catch, not sure how the heck Daniel Jones got rid of that football, let alone getting it to Slayton in that spot. Texans rushers Mario Addison and Maliek Collins both made contact with Jones as he let the ball go. Slayton had an initial bobble, causing rookie Jalen Pitre overrun the play, and the Giants’ receiver did the rest, racing down the left sideline for the score and a 14-3 lead.
Davis Mills answered right back, though, capping a seven-play, 75-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Nico Collins.
Saquon Barkley has 75 yards rushing at halftime. The defense has been all over Davis Mills, allowing just a field goal. There have been no turnovers for Big Blue, either.
Yet things went downhill after a penalty by reserve lineman Jack Anderson on a fourth-and-1, leading to a series of events that kept the Texans in a game the Giants had, for the most part to that point, dominated.
Things worsened when Kenny Golladay had the second of two drops in the game on a play late in the second quarter that would have moved the sticks and given the Giants some momentum. Instead of sparking Golladay and the offense, the crowd responded with vociferous boos for the $72 million receiver returning to the lineup after missing the last four games with a knee injury.
The Giants have clearly tried to force-feed Golladay opportunities. The degree of difficulty was high on his first drop, but the second one was inexcusable. He played 25 of 36 offensive snaps in the first half, but remains to be seen if his snap count drops in the second half.
The Giants trotted out three offensive linemen as eligible receivers for the second time in a short yardage situation with Nick Gates, Jack Anderson and Matt Peart serving as extra blockers. The Giants ran a quarterback keeper with Daniel Jones, who converted the fourth-and-1. But, Anderson was called for a false start, negating the play.
The Giants opted to punt on fourth-and-6, and Jamie Gillan put the football in the end zone for a touchback. A heated Brian Daboll was shown on the television broadcast venting his anger in the direction of Anderson, and rightfully so.
Lawrence Cager is one of five Giants to catch passes in the first quarter from Daniel Jones, including his first career touchdown, but the story so far has been the smothering effort of the defense. Without Xavier McKinney, the defensive front is not giving up anything in the run and Wink Martindale’s exotic blitz packages on third down have given Davis Mills fits.
Dexter Lawrence and Jason Pinnock split a sack to force the first of three Houston punts. The run defense is doing a great job against rookie Dameon Pierce, refusing to give him any rush lanes.
There were reports Sunday morning that Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been stripped of his captaincy following recent events in which he voiced his displeasure with not being traded from Houston.
Been asked this question a lot on social media: Why hasn’t Saquon Barkley been wearing captain’s ‘C’ on his jersey this season? So got an answer: there’s a limit. I’m told Giants captains met and decided amongst themselves who would and wouldn’t wear the C.
Sounds like Barkley took one for the team, as did Graham Gano.
BREAKING: Barkley is wearing the ‘C’ patch on his jersey today.
Kenny Golladay will officially make his return after missing four games with a knee injury, and the arrival of Isaiah Hodgins from Buffalo means Davis Sills is a healthy scratch. Also, tackle Matt Peart will have a role on game day, essentially bouncing Devery Hamilton to the inactive list.
Giants: Sills, LB Austin Calitro, T Devery Hamilton, T Evan Neal, TE Daniel Bellinger, OLB Quincy Roche
The Texans had two first-round draft picks this year: LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (No. 3 overall) and offensive lineman Kenyon Green out of Texas A&M (15th). Both are starters as is second-round selection Jalen Pitre, a safety out of Baylor. They’re also counting on running back Dameon Pierce, a fourth round pick out of Florida who has 678 rushing yards.
The Giants are turning to their youth as well. On defense, Kayvon Thibodeaux has started the last six games after missing the first two of the season as he recovered from a knee injury. Dane Belton is likely to step in for Xavier McKinney alongside Julian Love at safety. Micah McFadden is carving out a role for himself at inside linebacker next to Jaylon Smith. On offense, Wan’Dale Robinson should be a focal point of the passing game. Two others, Evan Neal and Daniel Bellinger, will be inactive as they continue their recovery from knee and eye injuries, respectively.
Fourth quarter pressure
The Giants’ defense has brought the heat against the likes of quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson in the fourth quarter. Now they’ll face the Texans’ Davis Mills, who has not played well down the stretch of games.
Mills has the third-lowest completion percentage in the fourth quarter this season at 54.4% behind the Raiders’ Derek Carr (51.9%) and the Broncos’ Russell Wilson (54.1%). It’d be incredibly beneficial for the Giants to force the Texans to play from behind in the second half.
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