What a game! The Giants improve to 8-5 with a 52-27 rout of the Saints. It’s the most point scored by New York since 1986 and it also snapped a 2-game losing streak against New Orleans – who scored 48 and 49 points in those 2 wins.
It was the David Wilson coming out party. After flirting with one all season, he finally broke a kickoff return for a touchdown and he also had 2 more TDs and 100 yards rushing. Wilson set a team-record with 327 all purpose yards and even more impressive he became the first NFL player ever with 100 yards rushing and 200 yards in kickoff returns. I know it’s not often that running backs return kicks, but the Giants have found that double threat with the rookie.
Wilson’s kickoff return for a TD also couldn’t have come at a better time. The Giants started the game off with great field position after a 58-yard Wilson kickoff return but they failed to get a first down and had to punt. The defense forced a fumble and got the ball back for the offense, again with great field position. But Eli made a poor decision and was picked off and the Saints returned it 73 yards for a touchdown.
At this point, every Giants fan had just watched the Redskins and Cowboys come back from 8 and 9 point 4th quarter deficits respectively to earn dramatic wins. A loss to the Saints would knock the Giants out of first place and make their road to the playoffs exponentially harder. Just as every fan and the team itself was coming to this realization, Wilson busted the 97-yard return and capped it off with a back-flip.
We were alive and this team was not going to go down that easily. A 21-13 lead at the half was acceptable given the fact that the Giants had missed a FG and the Saints offense had only scored 6 points. A Stevie Brown interception on the 2nd play of the 3rd quarter put the Giants in business again. Back-to-back quick scores gave New York a 35-13 just 6 minutes into the 2nd half. Feeling comfortable with a 22-point lead didn’t last long though. The Saints did the rest of the scoring in the quarter – making it a one-score game again with quick back-to-back scores of their own. Flashbacks of the DeSean Jackson punt return game against the Eagles were creeping in.
Those didn’t last long though because the 4th quarter belonged to the G-MEN. On the 2nd play of the final quarter, Eli hooked up with Victor Cruz for a 10-yard TD. It was Eli’s 4th score of the day but he was not the star of the game. That title belonged to David Wilson who capped off the best day of his young career with an explosive 52-yard TD run. The Giants outscored the Saints 17-0 in the 4th quarter and finished off Brees and the Saints.
Scoring 52 points against Steve Spagnulo (Saints Defensive Coordinator) was another positive. I have nothing against Spagnulo and actually think that he deserves the majority of credit for our 2007 Super Bowl season. But when you’re old coach comes back as an opponent, it’s got to be nice to come out on the winning side.
The Giants did what they needed to do and they still hold a 1-game lead over the Cowboys and Redskins in the NFC East. Next up is the NFC-leading Falcons in Atlanta. It doesn’t help that Matt Ryan and company are coming off a loss but I’m really excited for this game. I’ve always felt that Atlanta was overrated and this could be your quintessential Giants big road win that sets up a deep playoff run. They’ve done it before (Buffalo in 2007 with Kawika Mitchell’s INT for TD in the snow and Dallas in 2011 with JPP’s blocked FG).
A Dallas or Washington loss yesterday would have been huge for the Giants. Both teams really needed those comeback wins and credit to them for pulling them out. The Redskins schedule is very easy but their entire season hinges on RGIII’s health and ability to play. The Cowboys schedule is a little tougher but they have been uncharacteristically finding ways to win recently. Also, Washington plays Dallas in the last game of the season so we know that neither of those teams can run the table. The Giants still control their own destiny which is all you can really ask for at this point in the season.
I don’t think it’s such a bad thing that the Giants have tough, must-win games ahead of them. They’re next 2 opponents (Falcons and Ravens) will be in the playoffs. So basically the Giants playoffs started yesterday and they got off to a great start. Every game at this point is a playoff game. Yeah, you can can win 2 out of the next 3 and get in but that would require help with Dallas and/or Washington losing. Nobody wants to deal with that.
When you’re in the playoffs, you play against top-tier opponents and that’s what the Giants are going to do for the rest of the regular season (Eagles are bottom-tier but they always play division opponents tough). If they pass these upcoming tests, then they will be hot going into the second season and that is a dangerous combination for the rest of the league.
The Giants have shown flashes of how great they can be. Hopefully, they put it all together for the rest of the regular season. They usually come to play in December and I don’t expect anything different for the next 3 weeks. Sunday was a great win and a lot of fun. Let’s build off that and put everyone else on notice by taking down the “best” in the NFC next week. Let’s go GMEN!