*Three Giants writers debate which players had underrated performances in Week 9: *
Division games are never easy.
It took the entire roster for the Giants to come away with a 28-23 victory over the Eagles in Week 9. With the win, Big Blue is now 5-3 and stands in second place in the NFC East at the midway point of the schedule.
In this week's "Cover 3" on Giants.com, we asked our staffers about the underrated performances from Sunday's key win at MetLife Stadium. Here is what they had to say:
ROBINSON DISRUPTS WENTZ
By John Schmeelk
One player that has been lost in the mix this season, and once again this past week, is Keenan Robinson. He has been able to stay healthy and has been a real factor for the Giants defense in passing situations. After being moved around in the preseason, he has established himself with Jonathan Casillas as one of the team's nickel linebackers.
Robinson was second on the team with 10 tackles against the Eagles and made a number of plays on Eagles playmakers after catching short passes from Carson Wentz. The Eagles count on yards after the catch and Robinson played a huge role in preventing those. He was also active in the red zone, helping limit the Eagles to a pedestrian two touchdowns on six possessions deep in Giants territory.
His biggest play, however, came on special teams. On Darren Sproles 66-yard punt return, Robinson showed his speed when, despite not having a great angle, he managed to push Sproles out of bounds and prevent a touchdown. Four plays later, the Redskins would go for it on 4th and 1 and prevent Sproles from getting a first down. Despite starting at the Giants 15-yard line, the Eagles came away with no points thanks to Robinson's touchdown-saving tackle.
In a year where the Giants defense has the second-best red zone defense in league, thanks in part to their stout front, making plays like that on special teams to keep opponents out of the end zone is huge. If Sproles stays in bounds there and scores a touchdown, the result of the game could have been very different.
ADAMS GETS FIRST PICK
By Dan Salomone
Think about the ups and downs of the last eight months for safety Andrew Adams. Undrafted out of the University of Connecticut in April, he earned a shot with the Giants this summer but didn't make the final round of roster cuts before the season started. He was added to the practice squad and then promoted to the active roster on Sept. 24, a day before he played in his first NFL game. However, his debut would be remembered for an unnecessary roughness penalty that negated a blocked punt at a key point in the team's loss to Washington.
When he walked onto the field for practice the following Tuesday, coach Ben McAdoo had a conversation with him and said, "Flush last week. Don't let it linger. Just trust yourself and your training and be confident." Since then, he's done that while the Giants have needed him to step up with Darian Thompson out and Nat Berhe coming back from a concussion. He has been more than a fill-in over the last few weeks, culminating in his first career interception against the Eagles in addition to nine solo tackles.
And while we're on the subject of rookies named Adams, how about Jerell? The sixth-round pick out of South Carolina is starting to carve out a role in the tight ends room. He was targeted four times yesterday and had three receptions for 24 yards, including a third-down conversion to set up Sterling Shepard's touchdown midway through the third quarter. Add in Roger Lewis scoring another touchdown with running back Paul Perkins getting the same number of carries as veteran Rashad Jennings, and the late-round draft picks and the rookie free agents are making an impact on this team.
DEPLETED O-LINE STEPS UP
By Lance Medow
The Eagles entered Sunday's game ranked tied for third in the NFL with 22 sacks. Twelve players had at least one sack. Their total against the Giants: one. The performance of the offensive line can easily be overlooked in the win over Philadelphia, but given how critical the battle in the trenches was, that group deserves a lot of credit for its pass protection. Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart had to deal with Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham, respectively, as they had combined for seven sacks coming in. They had none against the Giants. Barwin's biggest impact came late in the fourth quarter when he deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage that led to Jordan Hicks' interception.
The pass protection stats are impressive considering the Giants lost guard Justin Pugh early in the second quarter to a sprained knee. Brett Jones was thrown right into the mix, and the line didn't seem to have any chemistry issues. Keep in mind, the Eagles showcase one of their best defensive players in the interior in defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, an extremely disruptive player. For the first time this season, the Giants unveiled their jumbo package with an extra offensive lineman, Marshall Newhouse, used as a tight end. While the rushing numbers don't necessarily jump off the page, the Giants had six runs for five yards or more, including a 14-yard gain by Paul Perkins.