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5-1 Giants just scratching the surface


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – At halftime of their home game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, the Giants had scored seven points, had been outgained, 256-90, and were three points behind the visitors.

Naturally, the Giants had the Ravens exactly where they wanted them.

Few teams own the second half like the Giants. They outscored Baltimore by seven points in the final two quarters, most notably 14-0 in the last 6:01, and earned their third consecutive victory, 24-20, in raucous MetLife Stadium. The Giants, who had two critical late takeaways, improved to 5-1, exceeding their four-victory total for the entire 2021 season with 11 games remaining.

"This league is hard," said coach Brian Daboll, whose team took its first lead with 1:43 remaining. "It's not always going to be perfect. There will be a lot of people down on you. And you might be down on yourself, wish you could do better. But you keep on getting back up. You keep on swinging, keep on competing, regardless of the score or the situation of the game."

That's exactly what the Giants have done all season. They have led just once at halftime and have trailed or been tied in every fourth quarter but one – but have lost only one game. The Giants have been outscored in the first half, 64-40. But they have outscored their opponents in the second half, 87-49, including 48-22 in the fourth quarter.

"We're a team that fights all four quarters, every minute of the game, and I think the best thing about this team is we don't bend, we don't fold, we don't break and all that type of stuff," defensive lineman Leonard Williams said.

"We're a team that might not win the game 40-0," said safety Julian Love, whose late interception was one of the game's biggest plays. "We're a team that will bring our team into the fourth quarter and make key plays in key situations to win games. That's who we are; we're resilient, so thankfully made out with this game that against a really good team."

They did despite getting outgained, including 211-83 on the ground and giving up both a 100-yard rusher (Kenyan Drake, 119) and 100-yard receiver (Mark Andrews, seven catches for 106 yards). Drake (30-yard run) and Andrews (12-yards reception) scored the only touchdowns for the 3-3 Ravens.

The Giants countered with touchdown receptions by rookies Wan'Dale Robinson (his first in the NFL, a five-yarder) and Daniel Bellinger (eight yards). Daniel Jones did not throw an interception for the third consecutive game and completed 19 of 27 passes for 173 yards.

Saquon Barkley rushed for 83 yards, including the game-deciding one-yard touchdown run with 1:43 remaining. He could have scored a second touchdown but stopped at the two-yard line with 1:17 left because controlling the clock was more important than adding points.

"The run before that, I feel like if I really wanted to, I could have went this way and kind of scored, but I was focused on protecting the ball," Barkley said. "I ran up to Dabs and was making sure, 'We're not scoring here, right?' And he told me, 'Yeah.' Did a spin move, had an opportunity and just got down. I knew once you get the first down, that secures the win."

That seemed unlikely just a few minutes earlier. Andrews' touchdown increased Baltimore's lead to 20-10 early in the fourth quarter.

The Giants responded with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Jones' touchdown pass with 6:01 left.

Baltimore took possession at its own 25, hoping to bleed the clock and add to its point total. Moments later, the Ravens faced a third-and-five at their own 40. At that moment, Giants opponents had thrown 185 passes this season and the Giants hadn't intercepted one of them. But the snap sailed past quarterback Lamar Jackson, who retreated, picked up the ball and moved to his right, closely pursued by Xavier McKinney. Jackson's throw to Patrick Ricard was picked off by Love – the Giants' first interception in seven games – who returned the ball 27 yards to the Baltimore 13-yard line.

"Those plays are really dangerous, because you have the most dynamic quarterback back there," Love said. "It was a bobbled snap, but as soon as he got it, you could see his eyes were looking down field. That's when he's made his great plays in his career. I wasn't covering, whoever he tried to throw it to. I was kind of just baiting him; I saw someone wide open, saw Lamar kind of lock-in, and then I baited the throw a little bit, and thankfully I made the play in a critical situation."

Disaster appeared to strike when cornerback Marcus Peters intercepted Jones' third-down pass. But Peters was penalized for interfering with Darius Slayton in the end zone, giving the Giants a first down at the one. Barkley then jumped into the end zone and the Giants were finally ahead with 1:43 remaining.

The Ravens again got the ball at the 25. On second down, rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux turned his first NFL sack into a virtual game-clinching play as he tackled Jackson for an eight-yard loss while forcing a fumble that was recovered by Williams with 1:30 left.

On second down, Barkley stopped short of the goal line and the celebration began.

But Daboll will ensure it doesn't last long.

"We've played six games, so it's a long season left," he said. "There's a lot of work to be done."

Asked what he thinks about being 5-1, he said, "Go into work tomorrow and get better."

With upcoming road trips to Jacksonville and Seattle, that is undoubtedly a good idea.


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