The Giants.com crew reacts to Sunday's 14-7 victory over the Washington Commanders:
John Schmeelk: There is a small group of defensive players capable of wrecking a game in the National Football League, and Dexter Lawrence is one of them. The defensive lineman took out the wrecking ball against the Commanders and could not be blocked for most of the game. He was credited with two sacks, but he could have had more if he got the quarterback to the ground quicker on a couple of plays where he got his hands on the passer. Lawrence was credited with four official quarterback hits, and Pro Football Focus' early tracking had him with eight total pressures (third-most in Week 7) and a 21.1 percent pressure rate (sixth-best in Week 7).
Constant interior pressure from Lawrence and a number of free-runners designed by Wink Martindale's blitz packages helped hold Washington to just 46 yards of total offense in the first half. Lawrence, Leonard Williams, A'Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches were strong at the point of attack, holding the Commanders to only 76 rushing yards.
The multiple big plays from the offense helped the cause (three plays of 30+ yards and four more of 20+), but it was the dominant defensive effort by the Giants' front that led them to victory.
Dan Salomone: No one would have called you crazy if before the season you said that tight end Darren Waller would score the Giants' first touchdown of 2023 at MetLife Stadium. It was just unexpected that everyone had to wait until Week 7. Granted, the Giants had played just two home games before Sunday's win, but they were both losses to the Cowboys and Seahawks by a combined score of 64-3. Waller, one of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason, broke the drought with a 15-yard touchdown from Tyrod Taylor in the second quarter as part of a much-needed, 14-point shutout in the first half. The former Raider ended with seven receptions on eight targets for 98 yards, his most since Week 11 of the 2021 season.
"I knew it had been a while (since we scored)," Waller said after the game, "and having the sour taste in the mouth after last week, it's like you're just itching for another chance to get an opportunity. I don't know, I feel like I provided a spark for the team."
And that's precisely why the Giants traded for him.
View photos from the Giants' Week 7 matchup against the Washington Commanders.
Lance Medow: As I've mentioned several times in previous weeks, if the offense was going to take a step forward, it would have to be a product of explosive plays. That was evident in Sunday's win over the Commanders. Tyrod Taylor and company recorded seven plays for 20+ yards with six coming through the air. The latter involved some deep throws to Jalin Hyatt and yardage after the catch thanks to Wan'Dale Robinson and Saquon Barkley. That diversity is what helped New York end its lengthy touchdown drought and find the end zone twice in the first half, the first time that's happened this season.
The first scoring drive involved eight plays for 88 yards with three for 20+ yards, and the second only required two plays for 48 yards. That's why those chunk plays are so critical. They shorten possessions and lower the chances of anything going wrong with a negative play that could affect your rhythm. Although the Giants took a sack and had a holding penalty on their first touchdown drive, a big reason they managed to overcome those setbacks was the splash play. While 14 points still isn't enough to feel comfortable – they let a few scoring opportunities slip away because of a missed field goal and fumble in the red zone – the offense did enough to complement a strong defensive performance. And that doesn't happen without some explosion.
Matt Citak: Dan already talked about the impact made by Darren Waller, the team's offensive offseason splash, so I'm going to highlight the strong performance from the big offseason acquisition on the defensive side of the ball – inside linebacker Bobby Okereke. The 27-year-old was once again a steady anchor in the middle and contributed both in the run and pass defense. Okereke led the team in tackles (11) for the fourth consecutive week while adding a pass breakup, his sixth of the season. According to Next Gen Stats, Okereke recorded 15 QB rushes against the Commanders and picked up a pressure on four of them, with his 26.7 percent quarterback pressure rate actually leading the team. The veteran linebacker made his presence felt in the run game with eight tackles on 19 total run defense snaps. No other Giant had more than four run tackles.
Okereke has been as consistent as they come in recent weeks. The fifth-year inside linebacker has registered double-digit tackles in each of the last four games with 42 tackles total during that span, and has picked up at least one pass breakup in each of those games. His six passes defensed on the season has already matched his previous career-high set in 2020 across 14 games. Okereke has matched another previous career-best with his two forced fumbles this season and has had a role in several other turnovers forced by the defense. He also leads the defense with 48 run tackles and nine run stuffs, while his 20.0 percent quarterback pressure rate is the second-highest. The defense has looked notably improved over the last few weeks, and it's no coincidence that has come with an increased production from the veteran linebacker.
Giants.com highlights some standouts from the team's Week 7 win over the Commanders.