The Giants‘ hosted their biggest game of the year thus far at MetLife Stadium Sunday. The visitors: the 7-5 Commanders, who had won six of their last seven.
While the Commanders are the one NFC East team that hasn’t consistently given the Giants fits in recent years, there was no denying they were one of the hottest teams in football coming into the game. And there was no denying the magnitude of this matchup for Daniel Jones and the Giants, who needed a huge victory to stay afloat in the competitive division. A loss was to send Big Blue to the basement of the NFC East.
After the first half, the game was tied at 13.
After regulation, the game was tied at 20.
The Giants thus partook in their first overtime game since last season, and the extra period didn’t change anything in regard to the score — a 20-20 tie.
After the Giants won the overtime coin toss and received the kickoff, both teams swapped punts on their first overtime possessions.
The Giants then had 3rd and 2 at the Commanders’ 44-yard line but a busted play led to a loss of one. Big Blue then tried to draw the Commanders offside, to no avail.
New York punted and the Commanders took over with under two minutes remaining in overtime, still tied at 20, at their own 10-yard line. Rookie outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux sacked Taylor Heinicke at the two-yard line before a Brian Robinson 8-yard gain and Antonio Gibson 5-yard gain led to a Washington punt.
Jones and the Giants were then set up at their own 43-yard line — one completion to Richie James and they were into Washington territory. After a spike, completion to tight end Daniel Bellinger for three yards, and throwaway, out came placekicker Graham Gano for a game-winning 58-yard field-goal attempt.
And the kick…was…short. The game ended in a 20-20 tie, and the Giants are now 7-4-1 and still haven’t won since their Nov. 13 victory over Houston.
Some thoughts on the game:
Secondary mishaps. The Giants’ secondary is ravaged by injuries, notably the ones to cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and safety Xavier McKinney.
Against Washington, it was clear the defensive backfield missed its most talented weapons.
The Commanders threw for 246 total yards as a team, as Heinicke was 27 of 41 for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
On a late, game-tying fourth-quarter drive, Heinicke was 6-for-8 for 90 yards, capping off the possession with a 28-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Jahan Dotson.
If the Giants are going to make up ground the rest of the regular season and contend for a playoff spot, they must get healthier in the secondary. Because right now, cornerbacks Fabian Moreau, Nick McCloud, and Zyon Gilbert aren’t getting the job done.
Offensive line mistakes. This offensive line has been below-average for much of the year — the unit looks better than it actually is thanks to superb left tackle play from Andrew Thomas.
But the interior is banged up, Saquon Barkley only averaged 3.5 yards per carry, and Jones was sacked three times. Even center Jon Feliciano was called for a taunting penalty in the fourth quarter after a Darius Slayton first-down reception.
The offensive line played a role in the tie just as much as the secondary did — the unit needs to right the wrongs against a strong Eagles front.
Daniel does what he can. This was one of the biggest games of Daniel Jones’ career. Playing well in a matchup like this goes a long way for a quarterback who must prove he’s the franchise’s answer past 2022.
And on Sunday, despite the tie, Jones played a fairly productive game.
After an early-game fumble, which has surprisingly been uncommon for the shaky quarterback this season, Jones managed the offense and took care of the football for much of the day. He finished 25 of 31 with 200 yards and a touchdown. Jones additionally rushed for 71 yards on 12 carries (5.9 yards per carry).
All in all, Jones was a big reason why the Giants were able to construct four scoring drives, including two touchdown drives. He would’ve benefitted from a spark in the run game, however. Barkley ran for only 63 yards on 18 carries (3.5 yards per carry).
Discipline improvement. The Giants’ defense came into Sunday the most penalized defense in the NFL — a true lack of discipline that’s plagued the unit on various occasions this season.
But on Sunday, Wink Martindale’s group actually improved in that regard. The Giants’ defense was penalized just once — a second-quarter defensive holding penalty on Moreau that led to a Commanders’ field goal.
With injuries in the secondary, the Giants’ defense needed to hold its own against Washington and not commit the big, bonehead mistakes. The unit got the job done in this specific department, and we’ll see if New York takes the success into next week’s matchup against Philly.