Grading the Giants after their 19-17 win over the Bengals on Sunday.
Just enough was just enough. Daniel Jones (16 of 27, 213 yards) missed some throws and then showed the risk/reward of his running when he went down and out in the third quarter. Still, no turnovers for a third straight game. Colt McCoy (6 of 10, 31 yards) did not panic with his first action of the season but he made a bonehead move by sliding out of bounds late in the fourth quarter to save the Bengals a timeout. RT Cam Fleming flagged for three penalties (two accepted) and nearly was the goat. Evan Engram (six catches for a career-high 129 yards) blew past safety Vonn Bell for 53-yard reception on the opening drive. Engram then got the ball punched out on the Cincy 16-yard line. Not good. Wayne Gallman (24-94) runs hard and angry, and the Giants would be lost without him.
Other than one bad touchdown drive allowed in the fourth quarter, this unit was exceptional, making Brandon Allen (17 of 29, 136 yards) look like the backup he is. Game-clinching sack and forced fumble by Jabaal Sheard and recovery by Leonard Williams, who notched his sixth sack of the season but also committed a bad roughing-the-passer penalty. What a play by S Logan Ryan raking the ball away from TE Drew Sample for a turnover. Jabrill Peppers was all over the field. Big Dexter Lawrence sniffed out a second-quarter screen pass. Rookie CB Darnay Holmes had the pass breakup and deflection that led to the diving interception by Niko Lalos in his NFL debut. Holmes got called for a chintzy pass interference late in the game. Bengals were limited to 40 rushing yards and dangerous Tyler Boyd (3-15) was a non-factor.
Oops. The coverage units, so strong this season, got crushed on a 102-yard touchdown return by Brandon Wilson, right up the gut, after the Giants had taken the early lead. In the third quarter, the punt team got burned on a fake that picked up the first down. Late in the fourth quarter, a 29-yard punt return by Alex Erickson was lowlighted by several missed tackles — and included a game-saving tackle by rookie Cam Brown. Graham Gano came back off the reserve/COVID-19 list to hit field goals of 49, 40, 49 and 32 yards, putting his streak at 24 consecutive makes. His pooch kickoffs were so-so as far as effectiveness. Riley Dixon pinned the Bengals on their 16-yard line with a rolling 50-yard punt in the third quarter.
At some point, perhaps Joe Judge will be able to win a game and make it look easy. His Giants are not there yet and his great challenge will come if he has to go extended time without his starting quarterback. The danger of Jones running came back to haunt the Giants, but it is hard to put the hit on play-caller Jason Garrett for this one. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham continues to formulate game-specific plans that get the job done. Granted, there are far more difficult assignments than shutting down Brandon Allen. Special teams wins games for the Giants and nearly lost it for them here, which really ticks Judge off.