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Cover 4: How the Giants got off to fast start


The crew reacts to Sunday's victory over the Panthers as the team begins the season 2-0:

John Schmeelk: The Giants have done something this year they have been poor at the last few of seasons: win close games late. Spare the one red zone interception from Week 1, the Giants have avoided the critical mistakes on late game drives that have often seized losses from the jaws of victory.

They have also made the plays they needed to in order to win games late. Whether it is Gano's 56 yard field goal this week, Jones' scramble to keep the Panthers off the field for a final possession, or the red zone touchdown or subsequent two-point conversion in Week 1 against the Titans, the have made critical plays late in games. The Giants have outscored opponents 7-3 in the final two minutes of the first and second halves this season after being historically bad in those situations last year.

The Giants are doing the little things to win football games. With such small margins involved, can that be sustained over a 17 game season? It remains to be seen. But what we do know is that the Giants are winning the games they were failing to win the last few seasons. There's no better way to start than 2-0.

Dan Salomone: Brian Daboll will be the first one to say his team has been far from perfect in its perfect 2-0 start, but we're starting to witness his vision for the Giants. The head coach has provided glimpses into his mind during postgame press conferences, none more poignant than when he said "what we want for the entire organization is to not be afraid of failure."

A week after he asked the sideline about going for the gutsy two-point conversion attempt – to which they responded "F yeah" – Daboll once again put the game in the hands of his players against Carolina.

"Dabs looked at me, and he kind of just said, 'Go out,'" kicker Graham Gano recalled of his 56-yard, go-ahead field goal with 3:34 left in the game. "And he said, 'Hey, can you make this?' I looked over, and I laughed. I got out there and I was like, 'Man this is a long one. And the wind is blowing our way.'"

Then when they got the ball back, the Giants faced a 3rd-and-6 at their 40 with Carolina punted with 1:50 remaining. They needed just one more first down to seal the victory, and Daniel Jones delivered with an 11-yard scramble on a play that had multiple options.

"We talked about it, and [offensive coordinator/play-caller] Mike [Kafka] recommended that play," Daboll said. "It was a naked play, so we had a couple different options. And he made the right one. If not, he probably would've taken a sack just so he kept the clock moving there. But I think it's important to show players that you have faith in them. They work their asses off during the week. They've worked their asses off during camp. They're the ones out there playing on Sunday, and you have to put it in their hands when it counts the most."

View the best photos of the Giants celebrating back-to-back wins to open the 2022 season.

Lance Medow: For the second straight week, it was a tale of two halves for the Giants but thanks to the defense, New York was able to effectively weather the storm. After the Panthers quickly put together a three play, 67-yard touchdown drive on their first possession of the third quarter, Carolina managed just 90 total yards on its final five drives, which resulted in four punts and a 38-yard field goal. To further put things in perspective, Christian McCaffrey's 45-yard run in the second half was responsible for half of those 90 yards. That means, on the other 19 plays the Panthers ran in those last five possessions, they produced just 45 total yards (2.4 yards per play).

The Giants' relentless hustle and applied pressure on Baker Mayfield allowed them to dictate the tone of the game. Although they recorded only two sacks and four quarterback hits, they still forced Mayfield to leave the pocket and made their present felt as more often than not, he was on the run regardless of whether there was a legitimate threat in his vicinity. This takes a toll on a quarterback throughout the course of a game and it clearly showed down the stretch.

One of the two times the Giants finished against Baker couldn't have come at a better time as Julian Love posted his first career full sack by tackling Mayfield for a loss of six yards on a 3rd-and-6 from the Carolina 46 with 2:42 to go and New York holding a three-point lead. It stalled the Panthers' final drive and the Giants' offense never allowed that unit to take the field again. Through two games, the Giants have found different ways to close things out and when you're constantly involved in highly-contested affairs that come down to the wire, you're going to need a variety of players and facets of the team to get the job done.

Matt Citak: Wink Martindale and the Giants' defense have been without two key players for the first two weeks of the season, given the absence of outside linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari. Despite the two starters missing time, the Giants were able to jump out to a 2-0 start, thanks in part to the strong play of the two guys filling in for Thibodeaux and Ojulari.

Jihad Ward was named the defensive player of the game by the Giants coaching staff in Week 1 after he registered six tackles (five solo) and set the edge in the run game. The veteran followed that up with another strong performance against the Panthers where he finished with four tackles (three solo) and two tackles for loss. Ward is one of the most vocal players on the team, and through the first two games, has backed up his talk with his play on the field.

Oshane Ximines had one of the team's two sacks in Week 2 and once again recorded a pass breakup. The fourth-year outside linebacker batted a pass down during the season opener as well, and is tied with Xavier McKinney for the most on the team through two weeks. Ximines' 80.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus is the highest on the Big Blue defense through the first two games.

"I've said this from the beginning. Again, I don't know where he was last year. I just know where he is this year," Coach Daboll said about Ximines after the game. "His mind's on right. He's been a big part of our football team. He's got energy. I think he has talent. I think Wink's getting talent out of him. He's a confident player."

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