On a night where the New York Giants honored three key individuals for their part in the team’s two recent Super Bowl wins, this current incarnation of the Giants may not be a championship side but they are beginning to show that they are legitimate playoff contenders.
What they are is resilient, a fourth straight win in a 21-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium. And for a fourth straight game, the Giants won a game by a touchdown or less.
With the win, the Giants improve to 6-3.
A major gamble by head coach Ben McAdoo, going for it on fourth and goal early in the fourth quarter, paid off when quarterback Eli Manning linked up with Sterling Shepard for what would become a 21-20 lead. It halted a stretch of the game where the Bengals were running dominant.
After a first half where the Giants were overall the better team, it was the team that came out of the visitors’ locker room after halftime that carried all the energy. A Jeremy Hill 9-yard touchdown run around the end put the Bengals up 17-14 just two plays from scrimmage into the second half. They followed that up with a field goal on their next drive.
A Landon Collins interception with 11:22 left in the game was then negated by Manning throwing an interception into triple coverage on the Giants next play from scrimmage.
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Momentum goes ‘Poof’…for a moment
Everything seemed to be going the right way for the Giants, heading into the locker room up 14-10, even coming out afterwards to an emotionally charged fanbase that was fresh off the Ring of Honor ceremony. But a big kickoff return after halftime set-up the go-ahead touchdown for the Bengals, a 9-yard end run for a 17-10 lead. Then on the Giants opening possession of the second half they went three-and-out. After that, former New York Jets kicker Mike Nugent’s field goal with 8:52 left in the third quarter staked the Bengals to a 20-14 lead.
The Giants would come back with a touchdown in the fourth quarter on that fourth and goal gamble but it was touch-and-go there for a good part of the second half.
Keeping Green in check
In his last two games coming into Monday night, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had 17 receptions for 290 receiving yards and a touchdown. On Monday night, Green had “just” 60 yards at halftime and finished with seven catches for 68 yards.
It was the lowest receiving total for Green since a Week 5 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The limited numbers for Green was in part due to a tremendous effort from the Giants pass rush, who got two late-game sacks to help nullify the Bengals comeback attempt. In the fourth quarter Andy Dalton’s time in the pocket was limited as he was harassed by the Jets defensive line. Cornerback Jamoris Jenkins was also lockdown on Green for much of the game.
Finally, some running
The Giants actual had some balance to the offense in this game, in particular in the second half, as the ground game was somewhat improved. Paul Perkins showed some positive traction and Rashad Jennings, paced by a season-high 24 yard run late in the third quarter
Jennings, who has struggled this year averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, had just 51 yards rushing combined in his last two games. He finished with 87yards, not a gaudy tally but the highest tally of the season for the Giants this year. His runs late in the fourth quarter were key to the Giants ability to run out the clock.
As a team, the Giants topped 100 yards rushing, not too shabby for a group that came into the game ranked dead last in the league on the ground.