The Giants had the fortune of facing an undermanned opponent for the second consecutive week, and this time they capitalized, with a 30-17 win over the Texans.
Unlike last week, when the Giants (1-2) fell to an Cardinals squad that was without starting quarterback Carson Palmer, Big Blue benefited from the fact Texans starting running back Arian Foster was ruled out with an injured hamstring.
Foster’s replacement, Alfred Blue, had a respectable afternoon by providing 78 rushing yards on 17 carries, but Houston’s other star, wideout Andre Johnson, was nonexistent in tallying just 24 yards on four catches.
The Giants used an efficient offense that notched six scoring drives, an aggressive defense and showed resiliency in overcoming early obstacles to secure their first win of the season.
What we learned …
1. Back on track
The Giants bounced back in more ways than one, as they finally got their offense on track and forced turnovers for the first time all season. But the biggest bounce back was the team’s overall resolve. Tight end Larry Donnell fumbled on the Giants’ second drive of the game at the Texans’ 3-yard line. The Texans converted on fourth-and-1 when they perfectly executed a fake punt as punter Shane Lechler connected with Blue for 10 yards. And quarterback Eli Manning connected with wideout Victor Cruz for a 61-yard gain to the Texans’ 15-yard line which should’ve set up a Josh Brown 30-yard field goal — only to see the snap rolled back to holder Steve Weatherford. Those miscues didn’t hinder the Giants, however, as none of those factors resulted in points for the Texans.
2. Go West
Manning was sharp for the second-straight week as he went 21-of-28 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He even rekindled that old relationship with Cruz, who had his first breakout performance of the season by registering 107 yards on five receptions, including a touchdown. Manning has looked the part of a West Coast offense quarterback the last two games, as he’s limited mistakes and regained some accuracy in the quick-release offense. And if Cruz has finally broken free of his early-season doldrums, the offense may begin to replicate offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s vision.
3. Back to back
Running back Rashad Jennings displayed tremendous vision, as he also had his first breakout game this season. The new featured back tallied 176 yards on 34 carries, including a touchdown, to lift the once-dormant rushing attack. His rushing mark was a career high. Jennings was also key in the passing game with his superb pass-blocking skills, as he helped the offensive line give Manning ample time in the pocket. Manning was sacked only once — by All-Pro J.J. Watt, of course — but it wasn’t due to any breakdowns in Jennings’s protection.
Big Blue notes …
»The offensive output was the largest by the Giants since Week 1 in 2013.
»Running back Arian Foster (hamstring) was ruled out.
»Watt got a sack on the game’s fifth play, beating right tackle Justin Pugh.
»Prince Amukamara was one of three Giants to get an interception. It was the first game of the season that Big Blue registered a takeaway.
»So dominant was the Giants’ defense that the Texans didn’t convert a third down until the 4:25 mark of the final quarter. Until then, they were 0-of-10.
»The Giants’ first half was stellar on both sides of the ball, as Manning went 14-of-18 for 179 yards and a touchdown, Jennings had 88 yards and a score and Cruz had four receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, they held Fitzpatrick to 4-of-13 for 39 yards and two interceptions – pretty impressive when considering the journeyman quarterback was having a bit of resurgence early in the season, as he entered the game without throwing a pick.
»Linebacker Jameel McClain, who was filling in for the deactivated Jon Beason, led the team with nine tackles – seven solo – with a half-sack.
»Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins continued his solid start to the season with four tackles and a half-sack.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.