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Inside the Numbers: Ground game breaks out vs. Broncos

Posted Oct 17, 2017

The Giants had their best game on the ground of 2017, led by Orleans Darkwa's 117 yards: 


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – In recent years the Giants’ preferred method of moving the football has been through the air. In every season from 2011-16, their final statistical ranking in passing was higher than their final rank in rushing. And in every one of those six seasons, the Giants finished in the top 20 in the NFL in passing yardage (as they have every year since 2008).

That trend was expected to continue this year, with Brandon Marshall joining Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard to give the Giants an explosive trio of wide receivers. But with Marshall and Beckham are out for the season, and Shepard currently sidelined with a sprained ankle, the Giants are searching for a different path to victory.

They found it Sunday night in Denver, when they used a run-heavy attack to defeat the Broncos, 23-10.

The Giants ran 32 times for 148 yards, a healthy 4.6-yard average. Orleans Darkwa led the way with 117 yards on 21 carries, both career-high figures. Eli Manning threw only 19 passes, completing 11 for 128 yards. He was sacked three times, giving the team 118 net passing yards.

It was the first time the Giants gained more yards rushing than passing since Nov. 24, 2013, when they ran for 202 yards and passed for 154 against Dallas. But they lost that game, 24-21.

The Giants had last won with such a small passing yardage total on Nov. 10, 2013, when they also had 118 net passing yards in a 24-20 victory against Oakland (Manning threw for 140 yards, but was sacked four times for 22 yards in losses).

On Sunday, Roger Lewis, Jr. and Tavarres King were the only Giants wide receivers to catch a pass – and they had one reception apiece. It was the first time no Giants wide receiver had more than one catch since Dec. 24, 2006, when Plaxico Burress, Tim Carter and Sinorice Moss each had one in a 30-7 loss to New Orleans (when the Giants had 59 net passing yards).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the victory in Denver was the first Giants game in which their wide receivers totaled no more than two catches since Sept. 22, 1991, when Mark Ingram and Odessa Turner each had one catch in a 13-10 victory against Cleveland.

Prior to Sunday night, the last opposing team with at least 148 rushing yards in Denver was Carolina, which ran for 157 yards on Sept. 8, 2016. Darkwa was the first opposing player with at least 117 yards vs. the Broncos in Denver since San Diego’s Ryan Mathews ran for 127 yards on Dec. 12, 2013.

While the Giants were running their way to victory, the Broncos tried to beat them through the air. Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw 50 passes – 31 more than Manning - completing 29 for 376 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Janoris Jenkins.

Putting the ball in the air that often traditionally is not the way to beat the Giants. Since the 1970 merger, the Giants are 18-2-1 when their opponents throws 50 or more passes.

The last time the Giants threw at least 31 fewer passes and completed at least 19 fewer passes than their opponents was Oct. 28, 2012, when Dallas had a 62-29 advantage in pass attempts and a 36-15 advantage in completions, but the Giants won, 29-24.

*The 118 net passing yards was the Giants’ lowest figure in Ben McAdoo’s two seasons as head coach. The next two games on the list are 167 yards vs. Dallas last Dec. 11, and 171 yards at Washington on New Year’s Day. The Giants won all three games.

*The Giants’ 12 first downs in Denver tied their one-game low under McAdoo. They also had 12 in the victory against the Cowboys last December.

*While the Giants were running impressively, their defense stonewalled the Broncos’ ground game. Denver rushed for only 46 yards on 17 carries, a 2.7-yard average. It was the first time this season the Giants held their opponents to less than 100 rushing yards. Not coincidentally, they won the game. Under McAdoo, the Giants are 2-9 when the opposition rushes for 100 or more yards, and 10-1 when they hold their foes under 100 yards.

*The victory in Denver was the sixth time the Giants have allowed less than 75 rushing yards in McAdoo’s tenure. They are 6-0 in those games.

*The game in Denver was Manning’s 50th start in October. The Giants are 36-14 (.720) in those games.

*While Manning played in his 207th game and tied Howard Cross for second on the Giants’ career list, Zak DeOssie played in his 162nd game with the Giants. That tied Hall of Fame tackle Rosie Brown for 15th on the franchise’s all-time list. Phil Simms and David Diehl are tied for 13th at 164 games.

*The Giants had four sacks of Siemian, three by Jason Pierre-Paul. They are 7-2 under McAdoo when they record at least three sacks.

*Both the Giants and Broncos blocked field goal attempts Sunday night the first time that happened in a Giants game since Dec. 7, 2008 vs. Philadelphia.

*Jenkins’ 43-yard interception return was the longest by a Giants defender since Nov. 1, 2015, when Trumaine McBride returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown at New Orleans.

*After hosting Seattle on Sunday, the Giants will have their bye. They have been one of the league’s most successful teams in pre-bye games:

BEST RECORDS PRIOR TO BYE WEEK

W L T %
Seattle Seahawks 23 6 0 0.793
Dallas Cowboys 20 9 0 0.69
New York Giants 20 8 0 0.714
Minnesota Vikings 19 9 0 0.679
New Orleans Saints 19 10 0 0.655
San Francisco 49ers 18 10 0 0.643

*On Sunday, the Giants wore a “14” sticker on their helmet in honor of Hall of Fame quarterback and Giants record-holder Y.A. Tittle, who passed away last week. The sticker will remain on their helmets for the remainder of the season. Tittle, who retired after the 1964 season, holds the Giants records for most touchdown passes in a game (seven, on Oct. 28, 1962 vs. Washington) and in a season (36 in 1963), and most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (15, from 1962-64).