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5 Things We Learned

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5 things we learned: NFC East race tightens


The New York Giants faced off against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

In the first of two meetings over the next three weeks, the NFC East rivals finished in a 20-20 tie, bringing the Giants to 7-4-1 and the Commanders to 7-5-1. Giants kicker Graham Gano had an opportunity to win the game as time expired in overtime, but his 58-yard field goal fell short.

"I think we're all pretty disappointed with the result," Daniel Jones said after the game. "Certainly not the one we were looking for. We'll go back to work and clean up a lot of things. I think it's safe to say we're disappointed but looking forward to getting back to work and working on things we got to improve on."

The Giants will welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to MetLife Stadium next week while the Commanders have their bye. The two teams will meet again at FedExField in Week 15.

Here are five things we learned in Sunday's NFC East matchup.

1. Back-and-forth outing ends in tie

After going down 10-0 in the first quarter, the Giants fought back and went into halftime tied at 13-13. On Washington's first drive in the second half, outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari strip-sacked Taylor Heinicke, which he would eventually recover to set up the Giants on the Commanders' 20-yard line. Five plays later, Daniel Jones found Isaiah Hodgins from six yards out for the wide receiver's first NFL touchdown.

Hodgins' touchdown was the game's only points in the second half until the final two minutes. With the Giants holding a seven-point lead, Heinicke quickly led the Commanders on an eight-play, 90-yard drive to score the game-tying touchdown. Once in overtime, both teams punted the ball twice before the Giants' final drive, which ended in Gano's missed kick. It was the Giants' first tie since 1997, which coincidently also came against Washington in Week 13.

"We dug a hole for ourselves to start the game going down 10, so that was tough," said Jones. "I thought we finished the first half strong, clawing back and tying it up. Started the second half well but didn't do enough down the stretch. We had plenty of opportunities and didn't convert on them. Disappointing down the stretch for sure."

2. DJ efficient with arm & legs

For the third consecutive game, Jones had an efficient outing with his arm. Jones completed 80.6 percent of his passes, his highest completion percentage since the season opener in Tennessee (81.0 percent), for 200 yards and a touchdown. The fourth-year quarterback did not throw an interception for the ninth time in 12 games this year.

After failing to do much on the ground over the last month, Jones had one of his best rushing performances of the season against the Commanders. The 25-year-old signal-caller ran it a season-high 12 times and gained 71 yards, his third-highest rushing total this season. He did fumble the ball on a run in the first quarter for his seventh turnover of the year. Saquon Barkley added 63 yards on the ground, topping the 1,000-yard mark on the season for the third time in his career.

"I thought we ran it well for the most part," said the quarterback. "I thought the guys up front did well against a good front and we were able to move the line of scrimmage and create some plays in the run game. Like each aspect of our offense, we'll go back and study it and see what we can work on. I thought the guys up front played well."

3. Pass rush hits home

The defense allowed over 400 total yards for the second consecutive game, including 165 yards on the ground and 4.6 yards per carry. However, the pass rush had one of its most productive games of the season on Sunday.

Wink Martindale's unit finished with five sacks (from five different players) and 10 quarterback hits. Ojulari, Dexter Lawrence, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Jihad Ward finished with one sack and two quarterback hits apiece, while defensive lineman Justin Ellis had the fifth sack, which was the first solo sack of his nine-year career (112 games). Leonard Williams picked up the final quarterback hit.

The defense continued its success on third down, though, as Washington converted on just three of 14 attempts. The Giants came into this game with the seventh-best third down defense, limiting opponents to a 36.6 conversion percentage.

4. Slayton, Love have big games

The Giants saw two fourth-year players step up on Sunday, one from each side of the ball. Starting with the offense, wide receiver Darius Slayton put together yet another big outing. Slayton led the team in targets (eight), receptions (six) and receiving yards (90). For the second consecutive game, he had a huge reception when he pulled down a 55-yard pass from Jones, one week after catching a 44-yard pass. The 25-year-old has now had six straight games with at least 58 receiving yards, and since Week 5 has racked up 32 receptions for 555 yards. He is the team's leading receiver this season.

On the defensive side of the ball, safety and team captain Julian Love continued his breakout campaign with a team-high 12 total tackles, 11 of which were solo, and one tackle for loss. It was the second consecutive game of double-digit tackles for Love, who has already registered an impressive 96 total tackles on the season. Lawrence has the second-most tackles on the Giants with 54.

5. Injury updates; Leo leaves early

Defensive lineman Leonard Williams suffered a neck injury in the third quarter, finishing the game with three tackles (one solo) and a quarterback hit.

The Giants activated outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari and safety Tony Jefferson from injured reserve on Saturday. Both players returned to practice this week after lengthy absences and suited up against Washington. Ojulari had one of the plays of the game with his strip- sack, which the outside linebacker ended up recovering, and added another quarterback hit. Jefferson registered four tackles (two solo).

Three players were ruled out with injuries on Friday – cornerback Adoree' Jackson (knee) and offensive linemen Joshua Ezeudu (neck) and Shane Lemieux (toe).

Eleven players were listed as questionable heading into Sunday but only two wound up being inactive – cornerback Darnay Holmes (shoulder) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (illness). The latter was added to the injury report on Saturday.

Tight end Daniel Bellinger (eye), right tackle Evan Neal (knee), center Jon Feliciano (neck) and cornerback Fabian Moreau (oblique) were all back in the starting lineup Sunday after missing time due to injuries. Bellinger caught five passes for 24 yards, while Moreau had seven total tackles (three solo) and a pass breakup.

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