Has the New York Giants success come as a result of a good team finding ways to win or just being fortunate enough not to lose?
There’s a stark difference between losing a game and beating yourself. The 2015 New York Giants were a team that mismanaged the clock at crucial times, turned the ball over the in the red zone, and committed costly penalties. While their collective talent was clearly lacking, it was evident they beat themselves on several occasions.
Fresh in the minds of fans are the the stinging losses in which the Giants mismanaged the clock against Dallas and New England, committed a crucial penalty against New Orleans, and choked against the Jets. The 2015 Giants weren’t unlucky; they simply did not finish games.
One year later, the Giants stand at 7-3. However, they’ve scored just four more points than they’ve allowed. They G-men have won most of their close games, which begs the question: are the Giants now finishing games strongly or benefitting from the mistakes of their opponents?
After week one, one might argue that Terrance Williams forgetting to get out of bounds allowed the Giants to escape. Since then, Ben McAdoo’s bunch has made plays to get it done. It hasn’t always come with the most style points, or come against the league’s best opponents, but wins all count the same in the NFL.
Let’s quickly revisit some of the Giants’ close wins. Against the Saints, Victor Cruz won a jump ball late in the game to set up the game-winning field goal. Hosting the Ravens, Odell Beckham Jr. played his best game of the year against one the league’s better pass defenses, including a long catch and run for the winning score. After a crushing turnover against the Eagles, the defense held firm against Carson Wentz on fourth down. Two weeks ago versus Cincinnati, the run game took over to ice the game. Last week, Landon Collins picked off Jay Cutler to end the game.
What’s the common theme here? The Giants, when in position to either win or lose the game, have found different players to step up and contribute at crucial moments. Last season, the Giants would have fallen in many of their aforementioned victories.
The mental mistakes, penalties, turnovers, and discipline, which were concerns through the first month of the season, have seemed to fade since the start of their current five-game win streak. In fact, Big Blue has committed just the second fewest penalties per game (5.3), although a -7 turnover ratio is among the league’s worst. Regardless, there’s a sense of chemistry among the team that simply didn’t exist earlier in the season.
The final six games will determine whether the New York Giants were fortunate to have escaped many close games or made enough plays to emerge victorious. Given the number of quality opponents remaining after week twelve, you can bet there will be more close games up for grabs.
Their chemistry, mental toughness and poise will be tested for a team entering mostly uncharted waters. Just five players from the 2011 SuperBowl team remain on the active roster, as Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, and Jason Pierre-Paul headline those who have survived the gauntlet known as the NFL’s home stretch.
Some say it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good. However, good teams capitalize on a favorable schedule. Good teams also finish games. Thus far in 2016, the New York Giants have been more good than lucky.