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Cover 3: Player of the Game?

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Three Giants writers debate which player stood out the most in Monday's win:

Players who stood out during Monday night's game against the Bengals

Was it Odell Beckham Jr. and his double-digit catches? Was it Landon Collins and his interception spree? Or was it Olivier Vernon notching a key sack? Or Marshall Newhouse coming in and shoring up the offensive line on short notice?

There were many key performances in the Giants' 21-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. In this week's "Cover 3" on Giants.com, we asked our staffers who was the player of the game as the team won for the fourth time in a row. Here is what they had to say:

VERSATILE NEWHOUSE STEPS UP
By John Schmeelk

I'm going to get greedy and give you a player on each side of the ball. It's rare that I give a player a virtual game ball in a situation where he was beat a number of times for sacks and quarterback hits, but I'm going to do that with Marshall Newhouse. Here's why: the Giants asked Newhouse to step in and play left guard, a position he didn't play at all in training camp, and got very limited reps at during practice the last couple weeks. He told me after the game he had never played next to Weston Richburg before, making communication and building chemistry with him very difficult.

He struggled early, but showed a lot of improvement as the game went along. Newhouse was also asked to shuffle between guard and the blocking TE position throughout the game. In the locker room afterwards, he had trouble remembering what position he was playing during individual plays. Linemen are never asked to do what he did for the Giants on Monday night. Oh, by the way, he was asked to play left guard for the first time against one of the best three techniques in the league, Geno Atkins.

Newhouse was on the field at the end of the game when the team was able to run the ball for a couple of first downs to clinch the victory. His Pro Football Focus grade might not look great, but he did yeoman's work for the Giants yesterday.

On defense, tip your cap to Janoris Jenkins. I thought he might have some issues with his matchup with A.J. Green due to their size differential, but Jenkins more than held his own. Green had some catches (7 catches, 68 yards, 1 TD) but he didn't wreck the game. You'll sign up for that any day of the week. Jackrabbit followed Green all over the field, even into the slot from the time to time. Jenkins is a true shutdown corner and he showed it again versus Green on Monday night.

ODELL SHINES AGAIN
By Dan Salomone

Like most games, Odell Beckham Jr. was the best player on the field at MetLife Stadium, leading both sides on Monday night with a season-high 10 receptions for 97 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown. Those might look like pedestrian numbers at first glance due to the lofty bar that he's set, but not many of those were a simple pitch-and-catch. High. Low. Left. Right. The difficulty meter was up the entire night as he became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 3,500 receiving yards, doing so in just 36 career games. And then there was his whirlybird on Bengals cornerback Adam Jones to spin free for a thrilling touchdown.

Beckham set the tone in the first half as Eli Manning had a 147.3 passer rating when targeting him, according to NFL Media Research. Hey, he even played defensive back on Andy Dalton's Hail Mary attempt and was right there to help force the incompletion.

RUN, RUN RASHAD
By Lance Medow

On offense, that honor goes to Rashad Jennings.  Before the Bengals game, the Giants rushed for 78 yards or less in each of their previous five games.  Against Cincinnati, Jennings had 87 alone and the team collected 122 (the third time the Giants surpassed the century mark this season, the first time since Week 3 vs. the Redskins).  While the defense was on the field at the end of the previous three games, the offense, thanks to Jennings' success on the ground, sealed the 21-20 victory over the Bengals.  During a seven-play, 36-yard drive in the final 3:01, Jennings ran the ball five times for a total of 38 yards, highlighted by a nine-yard burst up the middle on third-and-six at the Giants 45-yard line. Two plays later, a 25-yard run on second-and-10 from the Bengals 46 proved to be the dagger.  Jennings also had a 24-yard run in the third quarter that keyed a seven-play, 47-yard drive and ended with a three-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard, ultimately the game-winning score.  To put things in perspective, the Giants had just one run for 20 or more yards in the first eight games.  Jennings had two alone in the ninth game.  His patience in finding the holes and sparking the run game was a big difference maker.

Since the play in the trenches was a huge part of the narrative Monday night, it's important to note Olivier Vernon's performance as well.  He led the team with 10 tackles, including four solo and two for a loss, to go along with a sack and a quarterback hit.  Vernon's sack was the turning point of the game.  With 3:41 to go, on third-and-17 from the Bengals 23-yard line, Vernon brought down Andy Dalton for the second straight play (Jonathan Casillas and Snacks Harrison shared a sack on the previous play) and forced Cincinnati to punt.  The Bengals never touched the ball again.  Jennings picked up where Vernon left off by helping the Giants run out the clock. So if Jennings is offensive player of the game, then Vernon deserves that label on defense.

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