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Instant Analysis

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Instant Analysis: Saints pull away from Giants

AT A GLANCE: Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saint can be held in check only for so long. While the New York Giants limited the potent offense early on, they failed to capitalize as New Orleans pulled away down the stretch for a 33-18 victory at MetLife Stadium, dropping Big Blue to 1-3 following its first victory of the season.

UP NEXT: The Giants travel to face the 2-1 Carolina Panthers, who are coming off an early bye week. Big Blue has lost its past two meetings with Carolina and is 4-5 all-time against the NFC South foe (2-2 at Bank of America Stadium) in the regular season. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman served in the same role with Panthers from 2013-17, guiding the team to three consecutive division titles and an appearance in Super Bowl 50. This season, Carolina defeated Dallas and Cincinnati at home with a loss in between in Atlanta.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE:

*For the second week in a row, the Giants got off to the fast start they were looking for and scored on their opening possession. Unlike in Houston, though, the offense didn’t build on the momentum, not scoring again until a field goal with 2:02 remaining in the third quarter.

*Eli Manning (31-for-41, 255 yards, one touchdown, one lost fumble) led a 10-play, 75-yard drive to open the game, capped by a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who had the clinching score in Week 3, on third-and-goal. With the throw, Manning moved into sole possession of seventh place on the NFL’s all-time touchdown list with 343. He was tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton heading into Sunday.

*Manning, who was sacked three times, completed passes to seven different players, but wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was kept quiet with seven receptions for 60 yards. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley, the second overall pick in the draft, had 10 carries for 44 yards, including a one-yard flip into the end zone with 3:44 left in the game. He also had five catches for 43 yards. Shepard had 10 catches on 10 targets.

*Second-year running back Wayne Gallman accounted for the first turnover of the game, getting the ball stripped by P.J. Williams immediately after catching a pass. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the 2017 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, scooped it and took it 37 yards down to the Giants 13. Manning forced Lattimore out of bounds, which ended up saving four points as New Orleans eventually settled for a field goal.

*The Giants made two changes to their offensive line last week, which carried over to Sunday. After Jon Halapio suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 2, John Greco, who played in relief in Dallas, started at center. And then coach Pat Shurmur made the call to replace Ereck Flowers with Chad Wheeler at right tackle. These moves came after an offseason in which the Giants broke in new starters at all five positions. From left to right, the lineup of Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Greco, Patrick Omameh and Wheeler remained the same for Week 4.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE:

*The Saints entered Sunday averaging 34.7 points per game, but the Giants held them in check early by forcing them to settle for four field goals in the first half. While the Giants limited the Saints to two-for-six in the red zone, the third downs caught up with them in the fourth quarter. Drew Brees orchestrated a 14-play, 74-yard scoring drive, which running back Alvin Kamara finished off with a four-yard touchdown run to extend the Saints’ lead to 26-10 with 6:47 left in the game. Kamara added to it again with a 49-yard touchdown run with 2:06 remaining for his third score of the day. Coming into Week 4, the Saints scored an NFL-high 48 points in the fourth quarter, 17 more than anybody else. They had 14 on Sunday.

*The Giants fared better than most against wide receiver Michael Thomas, who had the most receptions (38) by a player in his team's first three games of a season in league history. Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins traveled with Thomas for much of the game, helping to limit him to four catches for 47 yards. Safety Landon Collins (14) and linebacker Alec Ogletree (12) both had double-digit tackle totals

*The Giants knew the importance of getting pressure up the middle against the 6-foot Brees, and that’s exactly what rookie defensive tackle B.J. Hill did on a third-down play late in the first quarter. The third-round pick took Brees down for his second career sack, forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal. Hill registered his first in last week’s game victory in Houston. However, that was the Giants’ only sack of the game and just the fifth of the season. Only Oakland had fewer sacks entering Sunday.

*Outside linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle) missed his fourth consecutive game to start the season, while cornerback Eli Apple (groin) sat out his second straight since getting injured in Week 2 in Dallas. Connor Barwin and B.W. Webb started in their place, respectively.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS:

*Taysom Hill, a third-string quarterback/special teams ace/kickoff returner/read-option threat for the Saints, pulled off a successful fake punt on fourth-and-two in Giants territory midway through the first quarter. Hill took the direct snap and found defensive back Justin Hardee for a 10-yard gain. Keeping the drive alive, the Saints went on to kick a field goal.

*Wide receiver Jawill Davis handled the primary return duties two days after the Giants called him up from the practice squad following running back Jonathan Stewart’s placement on injured reserve. Davis, 6-0 and 197 pounds, was signed by the Giants on May 10. He caught three passes for 23 yards in the preseason, was released on Sept. 1 and signed to the practice squad the following day.

*Kicker Aldrick Rosas remained perfect on the season, converting his lone field goal attempt from 33 yards. He is eight-for-eight this season.

*The Giants got a spark of late life on a Saints kickoff return following Barkley’s touchdown. Ted Ginn Jr. muffed it at the goal line and had to jump on it deep in Saints territory. Brees completed a long pass on the next play, leading to Kamara’s long touchdown run to end any hopes of a late rally.

INACTIVES: NYG – OLB Olivier Vernon (ankle), CB Eli Apple (groin), TE Evan Engram (knee), WR/KR Cody Latimer (knee), RB Jonathan Stewart (foot, placed on injured reserve), CB Antonio Hamilton (groin), QB Kyle Lauletta, C Evan Brown. NO – LB Manti Te’o (knee), C Cameron Tom, C Will Clapp, DL Mitchell Loewen, TE Dan Arnold, DT Jay Bromley, DE Trey Hendrickson.

LINEUP CHANGES: NYG – Connor Barwin for Vernon at WILL, B.W. Webb for Apple at LCB, Scott Simonson for Engram at TE. NO – Alex Anzalone for Te’o at MLB.

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