The New York Giants won a football game. While that shouldn't be such big news, especially after the team was tabbed to challenge for the NFC East, a nightmarish 0-5 start paired with an onslaught of injuries and the suspension of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made Sunday night's 23-10 triumph over the Denver Broncos a surprising one.
Here is what we learned from the win:
Run the ball, feed Darkwa
Isn't it amazing what happens when the opposing defense can't just plan for Eli Manning and the passing game?
With Ben McAdoo giving up offensive play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, Manning attempted just 19 passes toward a makeshift group of receivers, completing 11 of them for 128 yards and a touchdown. He had attempted no less than 32 in New York's prior five games this season.
It gave running back Orleans Darkwa an opportunity to be the featured back and he ran with it... literally.
On Sunday night, the fourth-year back rushed for a career-high 121 yards on 21 carries. His previous single-game bests before that were 69 yards and just 12 carries.
He looked comfortable in his new role and most importantly patient as he slashed through Denver's defense, including this 47-yard run that led to the Giants' first touchdown of the night:
This was no fluke either. The Broncos' run defense has still allowed the least amount of yards in the NFL this season despite being gashed open by Darkwa and the Giants on Sunday night.
JPP the menace
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul showed flashes of returning to the form that made him one of the league's premier pass rushers earlier in his career last season when he collected 5.5 sacks in a two-game stretch against the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears.
Through five games in 2017, he had just 1.5 sacks and was struggling to get to the quarterback. That is, until Sunday night.
Pierre-Paul made mincemeat of Billy Turner, sacking Trevor Siemian three times on the night while racking up seven solo tackles and forcing a fumble.
The defensive end's first step was as explosive as ever and his arsenal of moves was simply unstoppable. Then again, nothing beats a simple bull rush:
The Giants' offensive line has crashed back down to Earth after a two-game stretch between Weeks 3 and 4 in which they didn't allow a sack, showing signs of promise after giving up eight takedowns in the first two games of the season.
Week 5 against the Los Angeles Chargers was a disaster though as Manning was sacked another five times, leading the Giants to make some changes ahead of a Broncos defense that features linebacker Von Miller, one of the most imposing pass rushers in the game.
With four sacks in his previous three games, it was expected that Miller would feast against New York's weaker line. But Big Blue came up with a big solution; shifting Justin Pugh from left tackle to right guard after benching Bobby Hart in order to seal off the edge frequently inhabited by Miller.
The move was an overwhelming success as Miller was unable to get to Manning for most of the night, though he did grab a sack in the third quarter. However, that came when the Giants built a comfortable lead and were up by three scores.
Given the success of Darkwa, even though Manning was sacked three times, a line of Ereck Flowers at left tackle, John Jerry at left guard, Brett Jones at center, DJ Fluker at right gaurd and Pugh on the right edge could be the optimal grouping moving forward.