The New York Giants defense couldn’t make the final stops in their heartbreaking defeats against the Washington Football Team and Atlanta Falcons in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively.
But Patrick Graham’s defense finally stepped up and made a statement on Sunday, holding the New Orleans Saints to zero points in the final 12 minutes of the fourth quarter which paved the way for a potential season-saving comeback.
Taysom Hill’s eight-yard touchdown run with 12:09 left made the score 21-10 for the Saints, seemingly putting the game away.
But a Daniel Jones 54-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley, a successful two-point conversion and a late Graham Gano field goal forced overtime. The Giants won the toss, and they won the game with Barkley’s six-yard rushing TD, stunning the boisterous Caesars Superdome crowd.
The Giants are now 1-3 on the year, two games behind the Dallas Cowboys (3-1) for tops in the NFC East.
New York has a chance to close the gap when they visit Dallas this Sunday (4:25 PM EST).
The Cowboys open as 7.5-point favorites against the division rivals. Giants fans can learn more about betting at Bet365 in New York.
Barkley calls Jones “A Special Player”
Both Jones (28 completions, 402 yards, two touchdowns) and Barkley (52 rushing yards, five catches for 74 yards and two total scores) are coming off their best performances of 2021.
This was Jones’ first multi-TD and 300-yard passing game of the season. For Barkley, this marked his first game of recording multiple touchdowns.
After New York’s thrilling win over the Giants, Barkley offered a lot of praise for the third-year quarterback.
“He showed them what we’ve been (seeing), Barkley said of Jones, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. “Hopefully you started seeing it too. Ever since the day he’s been drafted he’s been criticized. That guy does nothing but come in and work and get better and lead every single day. He’s a competitor. He showed today he’s a special player.
We knew he was a special player.”
The main knock against Jones was his turnover issues. Through his first two seasons, Jones racked up 29 fumbles and 22 interceptions.
But Jones didn’t throw his first pick of 2021 until Sunday, and that was on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the second quarter. His fumble count sits at three on the young season.
Furthermore, his completion percentage sits at 66.7, significantly higher than the percentages of 61.9 and 62.5 in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
The Giants will need more of these efforts from Barkley and Jones, to say the least. After they visit Dallas, New York has home tilts against the powerhouse Los Angeles Rams (Week 6) and surprise Carolina Panthers (Week 7).
That will be followed with a road game against the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. The Giants will then host the Las Vegas Raiders before heading into their Week 10 bye.
Injury Updates on Slayton & Shepard
Two of the Giants’ top offensive players, wideouts Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard, missed Week 4 with hamstring injuries.
Per Zack Rosenblatt of NJ Advance Media, Giants head coach Joe Judge said he’s encouraged about the progress of both receivers.
It’s unclear at this time if either will play against Dallas in Week 5. Shepard and Slayton combined for 25 catches, 350 yards and a pair of receiving touchdowns through the first three weeks.
Shepard led the Giants with 66 catches last year, and Slayton led the team with 751 receiving yards.
The Giants invested heavily in upgrading the offense around Jones this offseason, signing veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph, former Cincinnati Bengals first round pick and speedster John Ross III and former Detroit Lions star Kenny Golladay in free agency.
They also used their 2021 first round pick on Florida wideout Kadarius Toney, who tuned in the best performance of his young career against New Orleans with six catches for 78 yards.
New York’s receiving depth was perfectly on display in the Week 4 win. Having Shepard and Slayton back in the fold can only help an offense that already looks significantly better than last year.
The Giants could especially use those two against a surprisingly stingy Dallas defense that has 10 takeaways through the first four weeks of 2021.