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Giants Hold Off Saints To Win Home Opener

Giants' kicker, Josh Brown (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Giants’ kicker, Josh Brown (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

 

New York Giants scored their only touchdown on special teams, but that proved to be enough as they defeated the New Orleans Saints, 16-13.

These two teams met last year in a 101 point shootout, where the Saints defeated the Giants 52-49 in New Orleans. Miscues from that game have stuck with the Giants, providing motivation to avoid making crucial mistakes late in games. With Saints kicker Wil Lutz kicking a 45 yard field goal to tie the game 13-13 with 2:54 left in the game, the Giants lead their way down the field in this game winning situation.

After Victor Cruz made a spectacular 34-yard catch with 1:49 left in the game to set up the Giants for first and goal at the New Orleans 2-yard line, the Saints had used their final time out, in hopes they would get the ball with decent time on the clock. However, the Giants decided to kneel the ball down on first, second, and third down, then using their final timeout to stop the clock at two seconds left in the game. Kicker Josh Brown would then successfully kick a 23-yard field goal, leaving no time on the clock, and giving the Giants the victory.

“We didn’t want to give Drew [Brees] the ball back,” said Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “It’s that simple. He’s a heck of a player, a future Hall of Famer, and if you can end the game with a kick, you want to end the game.”

The Giants lone touchdown came from the special teams. When the Saints attempted a 38-yard field goal, defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins broke through the trenches and blocked the kick from Lutz. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins would then recover the football and take it to the house, 65-yards for the touchdown.

“I just heard a hand hit the ball,” said Jenkins. “I just went looking for the ball. [It was] a perfect bounce and I scooped and scored.”

Although there were no offensive touchdowns for the Giants in this game, it doesn’t mean that the production wasn’t there. One in particular was Giant’s second round draft pick, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who brought in all eight of his targets for 111 yards.

“He’s a weapon in the slot,” said Coach McAdoo. “He’s a smart, conscientious young player who works at it. It’s important to him and the quarterback is developing trust in him.”

However, there is room for improvement for the Giants. In particular, avoiding offensive turnovers. The Giants fumbled the ball three times in the first half of the game. Luckily, the defense was able to prevent the Saints from scoring on these opportunities.

“We need to handle the football better,” said Coach McAdoo. “We need to take care of the Duke, we didn’t do that. Whether it was dropped passes, fumbles, whatever it is, we need to take care of the football better.”

Along with having some trouble hanging onto the ball, the Giants faced some difficulty in scoring opportunities in the red zone.

“We have to do a better job finishing some drives,” said Giants quarterback Eli Manning. “We ran the ball OK and had lots of completions.”

The Giants defense did their part preventing the Saints from scoring, especially after the Giants’ fumbled the ball. The defense held the Saints to 41 rushing yards and sacked Drew Brees twice (Landon Collins and Leon Hall).

“They had a lot of chip games,” said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. “We studied the chip games. The running back was chipping. The tight end was chipping. We kept our composure, played run first, and we got the job done.”

This is the second week in a row where Victor Cruz has come up in clutch situations. Last week, he scored the game winning touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. This week, he made the clutch 34 yard catch to set up the game winning field goal. This is a true sight to see, considering he is returning from a torn patellar tendon in his right knee he suffered Week 6 in the 2014 season, a calf injury in 2015, and groin injury this preseason. Cruz finished the game catching four of eight targets for 91 yards.

“To make a game-winning catch a week ago and a decisive catch today, I can’t draw it up any other way,” said Cruz.

Eli Manning finished the game completing 32 of 41 passing, for 368 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions (104.1 QB Rating). Odell Beckham Jr finished the game catching eight of 11 targets for 86 yards. Josh Brown kicked three of four field goals (48 yards, 18 yards, 23 yards), his only miss came from 53 yards.

Giants led in total plays, 75 to 59, as well as total yards, 417-288. Saints led the game with seven penalties for 76 yards, to the Giants’ three penalties for 25 yards. Giants turned the ball over three times, while the Saints did not turn the ball over. Giants were 7 for 15 on third down conversions, compared to the Saints’ 3 for 13. Giants led the in time of possession, 34:07 to New Orleans’ 25:53.

The Giants will enter next Sunday’s matchup against the Washington Redskins (0-2) undefeated, looking to get the all-important divisional win. This also brings the return of the Odell Beckham Jr-Josh Norman matchup that was nothing but chaos last season when Norman was a member of the Carolina Panthers.

Stay tuned later this week where I preview this Beckham-Norman matchup.

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General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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