NY Giants grades: Offense holds, Leonard Williams has monster game

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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NY Giants
Leonard Williams #99 of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

MVP: DE Leonard Williams

The next player to be signed long-term by David Gettleman better be Leonard Williams.

He has been one of the central figures on the Giants’ defense. He came into the game leading the team with 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. He added another three sacks in this game, and another three tackles for loss. He also added another five QB hits to his total.

Williams’ presence was seen early in the Giants’ victory. On the Cowboys’ second drive of the game, Williams tipped a pass at the line, which brought up a third and long. He then sacked Dalton on the very next play, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a field goal.

He continued making big plays. On the Cowboys’ fourth drive, he stopped Dalton from scrambling for a first down to cause a three and out.

In the second half, Williams would rack up two more sacks, the biggest one being at the end of the game on a first and goal for the Cowboys. The sack was huge, but Williams’ pressure on Dalton on the next play directly caused an interception, which sealed the win for the Giants.

The sacks are the flashy numbers for defensive ends. But Williams all season has been a disrupter for opposing offenses. And many of the things Williams does on a game-to-game basis don’t come up on the stat sheet.

His ability to play the run forces teams to abandon it. Dalton out rushed Ezekiel Elliott because the Giants’ defensive line held the superstar rusher in check all game. Elliott finished with just 42 yards, averaging 3 yards a carry.

And after he’s done forcing teams to throw it, he gets into their faces.

He came into this game with 25 QB hits, tied for his career best. He was sixth in the NFL in the category, and after Sunday’s game he’s likely to gain some ground; Only T.J. Watt and Carl Lawson had 30+ going into this week.

The continuous pressures and hits from Lawrence throw the quarterback’s timing off, and if nothing else, show that Williams is getting closer and closer.

He’s had a career year on a defense that should only improve with more time spent together. But it’s vital for him to remain a Giant, since Williams is a key part of that puzzle.

He signed a one-year deal worth $16 million before this season. And as great as he’s played, the Giants still only won six games. If he walks after this year it will be for nothing.

But if Gettleman can get a deal done, it will solidify as a good deal one of his more head-scratching moves. What’s more, it will solidify the Giants’ defense as a powerhouse for years to come.

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