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Giant Takeaways: Giants Finally End Losing Streak vs. Dolphins

The New York Giants’ losing skid has officially come to an end. On Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins 36-20 to “improve” their record to 3-11.

As has been the case all season, the Giants struggled to get anything going, no matter the opponent. Luckily for them, the Dolphins also had trouble putting points on the board, but entered halftime with a 10-7 lead.

It was a story of two halves for the Giants. Once the second half of the game began, they were an unstoppable juggernaut with the offense putting points on the board and the defense (shockingly) putting a stop to Miami’s offense.

But perhaps the biggest story of the day was quarterback Eli Manning getting his curtain call in front of the Giants faithful, in what very well may be his final home game.

Here are some takeaways from the big victory.

Eli’s Last Stand…Again

After their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14, Eli Manning got another crack as the starting quarterback. While rookie Daniel Jones made significant progress in his recovery from a high ankle sprain, head coach Pat Shurmur opted to rest the sixth overall pick for another week.

Manning’s start in the first half didn’t exactly inspire confidence. While the veteran did manage to throw a touchdown pass to receiver Golden Tate, the throw was tipped by cornerback Nik Needham. On New York’s very next drive, Manning threw an inexcusable interception to Miami, as his pass went directly into the hands of linebacker Vince Biegel. To close out the first half, Manning forced a pass to Tate in heavy coverage, resulting in a interception by Needham.

Despite another brutal interception in the red zone, Manning really shined in the second half. After receiving the ball in the second half, Manning targeted rookie Darius Slayton on two occasions, culminating in a five-yard touchdown. Other than that, Manning didn’t have to do much, as the offense and special teams really stepped up, and thus alleviated pressure off the 16-year veteran.

With a 36-20 lead, Shurmur pulled Manning from the game in a Mariano Rivera/Derek Jeter-style curtain call. Even with the never-ending low points of this season, giving Manning his moment in front of the home crowd for likely one last time was the true bright spot of 2019.

Manning finished the game completing 20-of-28 pass attempts for 283 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.

If Daniel Jones is healthy for next week, it would be a bit foolish to throw out Eli Manning for another game. He got his moment in front of fans, players, and family, and nothing is going to top that.

Barkley Finally Used Correctly

It took a while, but Saquon Barkley is finally back.

There was a bit of a slow start, as Barkley was called to rush up the middle of the line of scrimmage on a draw play. Let’s be real, that doesn’t work for the second-year rusher. He inflicts damage in the open field, and that’s done best by running on the outside. Barkley did so on numerous occasions, by stiff arming defenders while also casing them to slip and slide across the turf.

More importantly, Barkley found the end zone for the first time since Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals. Not satisfied, Barkley notched his second score of the game, matching his season total in just one game.

All in all, Barkley rushed for 112 yards on 24 carries (4.7 average). This is the first time Barkley eclipsed 100 rushing yards since Week 2 versus the Buffalo Bills.

Saquon Barkley looks to have finally healed from the ankle sprain that he incurred in the first month of the season, albeit against a poor Dolphins rush defense. Even so, it’s a step in the right direction.

Defense Awakens

James Bettcher’s squad received a ton of slack throughout the course of the season. From blown assignments, to poor coverage, to a lack of pressure on the quarterback.

All it took was playing the Dolphins for the defense to finally shine.

Sam Beal used to be the proverbial punching bag for opposing quarterbacks, but he had a true breakout performance against Miami. Beal tallied 11 tackles and one pass defensed. Perhaps his biggest play came in the third quarter, when Beal tackled Dolphins running back Patrick Laird in his own end zone for the safety.

Even first round pick DeAndre Baker looked solid, as he didn’t get called for pass interference penalties, while successfully defending two pass attempts from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The defensive line even put pressure on Fitzpatrick, granted Miami’s offensive line is one of the worst in the league. Dalvin Tomlinson tackled Laird behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-one on Miami’s second drive. Even former Jet Leonard Williams finally put some crucial numbers on the stat sheet, as he forced a fumble on a scrambling Fitzpatrick, allowing safety Sean Chandler to recover.

Once this young core begins to click on a consistent basis, they could potentially become a force in the league. Not only was Bettcher the big winner of Sunday, but general manager Dave Gettleman as well, whose job might have been salvaged because of the defense’s huge game.

Shurmur’s Job Far From Safe

Speaking of jobs, head coach Pat Shurmur smiled for the first time since Week 4 in a postgame press conference. The losing streak ended, and he could breath a sigh of relief.

Regardless of the team’s win, his job security is still very much in question. Defeating the Miami Dolphins isn’t going to draw “ooh’s and aah’s” from football experts. Shurmur flaws are too big to downplay. The play-calling is still suspect, and his decision making is at times downright infuriating.

Shurmur’s job is ensured for the final two weeks of the season, but beyond that is pretty much unknown. It’s highly unlikely the Giants would go down the same route that the Cincinnati Bengals did following the 2017 season, when the team kept Marvin Lewis after eliminating the Baltimore Ravens from playoff contention in the season finale.

Even if the Giants were to hypothetically knock out the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17, Pat Shurmur’s days in New York are numbered.

Chase for Chase Update

Giants fans suffered quite the scare this past weekend. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young told TMZ Sports prior to the Heisman Trophy ceremony that “the plan” is to return for his senior season. After panic among NFL Draft analysts and fans, Young said he made the comment to try and downplay his potential jump to the pros, saying his focus is on Ohio State’s CFP Semifinal game against the Clemson Tigers at the Fiesta Bowl.

Even with the Giants’ win, they remain at the No. 2 slot of the first round, due to owning the weakest strength of schedule over the likes of the Dolphins and Washington Redskins.

Expect more clarity on Young’s NFL status once the college bowl season has reached it’s conclusion.

What’s Next?

The New York Giants look take the season series over the Washington Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field at 1:00 p.m. ET. Will fans finally get the first full Daniel Jones-Dwayne Haskins matchup? Throw NFL Draft implications out the window, as both teams are aiming for a win at the other’s expense.

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Scott Rogust
General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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