The New York Giants avoided a franchise record tenth-straight loss as they soundly beat the Miami Dolphins at home in Week 15. Eli Manning had a lot to do with that.
If that was truly Eli Manning’s last game as the starting quarterback of the New York Giants (reports state that Daniel Jones is getting close to returning from his ankle injury, as he returned to practice in a limited capacity this week), it was emblematic of his Big Blue career. There were perfect throws, mind-numbing interceptions and moments of immobility, but in the end, he got the job done as he gets back to an even .500 for his career.
Metlife Stadium was rocking for the first time in a while, as you could feel the magnitude of the moment (Eli’s last home game) in the air. While many New York Giants fans have been campaigning for the team to lose (i’m guilty of it as well), it was surely nice to see the team get the monkey off it’s back and avoid setting a franchise record for losses.
Head coach Pat Shurmur began to push all the right buttons in the second half, as Eli and the offense came out with a palpable different energy en route to exploding for 29 second-half points. The 36 points the offense scored in total was a season high, and most notably it was encouraging to see Saquon Barkley regain some of his old form.
Barkley eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time since Week 2, but it was more about the way he did it that should encourage Giants fans. Typically, Saquon has been too much of a home run threat, failing to matriculate the ball down the field. Against the Dolphins, he totaled 124 yards on the ground, and did so without busting a gain of longer than 12.
Barkley hit pay dirt twice, and also chipped in four catches for 31 yards. Sterling Shepard had a big day himself, recovering from a bad early drop to tally 111 yards on nine receptions. Nick Gates, someone we’ve been campaigning to be on the field all season, cleaned up along the offensive line, and once again sprung one of his teammates for a touchdown on a block at the second level, this time on a pull block.
Defense stepped up big in second half
The offense wasn’t caught life in the second half, as Deandre Baker and the Giant defense rallied and slowed down Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was doing whatever he wanted in the first half. Baker left the game for a time with an injury, but came back in and overall played his best game as a pro in my opinion.
Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence collapsed the pocket all game long, as they proved to be way too much to handle for the Dolphins interior offensive line. R.J. Mcintosh picked up his second career sack, and the Big Blue ‘D’ hit Ryan Fitzpatrick 11 times.
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No hit on Fitzpatrick was bigger on the day than Alec Ogletree’s, as the linebacker laid ‘Fitz out with a shoulder blow in brutal fashion. The QB was running the ball on the play, so he exposed himself to being hit as hard as he was, and the ball came free as a result. The Giants recovered, and the game became a rout after that.
Sam Beal made the biggest play of his young career in what may have been the turning point of the game, as the second-year cornerback flew in and dropped runningback Patrick Laird for a safety early on in the second half. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the young Giants defense, as the second half was about as good as they’ve looked all season.
Big Blue will look to keep the momentum up next week in what will undoubtedly be labeled the ‘Chase Young Bowl’, as they take on the Washington Redskins. It’s unclear who will be playing quarterback at the moment.