The Giants entered halftime with a lead of at least three touchdowns for the second-consecutive week, but this time they made sure to finish what they started with a convincing 36-7 win over the hapless Tennessee Titans (2-11) on Sunday.
New York (4-9) snapped its seven-game losing streak when it jumped on Tennessee, 23-0 by halftime, on the strength of Eli Manning's masterful first half and a defense that was opportunistic in registering three sacks and forcing two fumbles -- including the rare sight of defensive tackle Markus Kuhn rumbling 26 yards for the touchdown for a 17-0 lead. Kuhn was the beneficiary of rookie linebacker Devon Kennard's strip-sack of rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who was battered and bruised all afternoon. Mettenberger showed his mettle by playing with a sprained AC joint in his right (throwing) shoulder, but he wasn't very effective playing behind backup bookend tackles and was eventually knocked out of the game for good late in the fourth quarter.
Kennard led the way for the Giants as he registered six tackles, two sacks, and the forced fumble, and spearheaded a wounded Giants' run defense that ranked 31st in the league, yet limited the Titans to a pedestrian 61 rushing yards -- including just 18 in the first half.
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Conversely, Giants' rookie running back Andre Williams netted a game-high 131 yards and a score. Williams' 24 carries were more than the entire Titans backfield (14), as the early deficit forced Tennessee into pass-mode all game.
What We Saw:
1. Manning began the game on fire, as he torched the suspect Titans secondary early. Manning played every bit the way offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo had envisioned his West Coast pupil to play, as the veteran quarterback went 26-of-42 for 260 yards, with one touchdown and one pick. He ended the first quarter going10-of-13 for 137 yards and a touchdown, and at the time was merely playing pitch-and-catch with his targets. Manning was sharp and in command of the offense, connecting with four different targets in the opening stanza to set the tone for Big Blue's passing attack. His first-half performance (20-of-29 for 226 yards) would've been a good afternoon for most quarterbacks.
2. The Giants' signal-caller was judicious with the football, but it was obvious from the onset who his primary target was -- Odell Beckham Jr. The electric rookie wideout continued his torrid pace as he scorched the Titans for a game-high 131 receiving yards. Beckham, who seemed unhappy with McAdoo's play-calling last week when the Giants blew a 21-0 halftime lead as he only got targeted twice in the second half, went off against the Tennessee secondary -- specifically cornerback Jason McCourty. Beckham had a record-setting day, as he registered 98 yards in the first quarter alone, which pushed him to six-straight games of 90 yards or more -- a rookie NFL record. His 100 yard-receiving day also set a franchise mark with his fourth such game of his rookie season, breaking a tie withByron Williams, who did it in 1983.
3. The Titans offense fared no better, as they were overwhelmed by a Giants' defense that has been anything but overwhelming this season. But there was Big Blue running roughshod over the young and injury-riddled Titans' offense that was without its starting tackles, Michael Oher and standout rookie Taylor Lewan, wideout Kendall Wright, and running back Shonn Greene. Even Mettenberger entered the game banged-up with a sprained AC joint of his right (throwing) shoulder, and he initially tweaked that malady late in the first half when Giants' defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul caused a strip-sack when he yanked back on the quarterback's arm in mid-throw. Mettenberger, who was later knocked out of the game for good, had an efficient stat-line of 14-of-24 for 125, but he was often harassed in the pocket and sacked eight times.
Big Blue notes:
- Beckham had 135 all-purpose yards in the first half, compared to 62 total yards by the entire Titans' offense. His game-high 11 receptions fell two short of tying Tiki Barber for the single-game franchise mark.
- Tennessee came in giving up 28 points per game and yielded 23 alone in the first half.
- Kuhn's fumble-recovery score was the first time in 35 games that a Giant did so. It snapped the league's fifth-longest drought.
- Williams had a career day, including his signature play of his young career so far, when his career-long 50-yard touchdown run came after he bobbled the pitch, broke a tackle in the backfield, and outraced the Titans' defense. - The Giants posted consecutive games with at least seven sacks for the first time since 1964.
- About the only blemish for the Giants came when cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Mettenberger for a 36-yard pick-six, but it was nullified by a sillyDamontre Moore penalty when he laid out the Titans' quarterback with a blindside block during the return.