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5 Things We Learned

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5 Things We Learned: Kayvon's breakout continues


The Giants put together a complete performance in Week 11 on their way to an impressive 31-19 victory over the Commanders.

Quarterback Tommy DeVito threw three touchdown passes, running back Saquon Barkley found the end zone twice, and the defense and special teams combined to force a whopping six turnovers as the Giants completed the season sweep of their division foe.

"It's always good to win, yeah," coach Brian Daboll said after the game. "So, preparation normal, practicing normal, I know you asked about that the other day. To be able to put it together, you know defense, special teams, we had six turnovers, capitalized on a few of those. Hit some good, big plays. Good play designs. I thought finishing the game we made it probably tougher than we had to, but it was good to get a win."

Before we flip the page to the New England Patriots, let's take one more look at the big NFC East win.

Here are five things we learned in Week 11.

1. Defensive surge

The Giants' defense entered this matchup coming off back-to-back rough outings. The unit allowed 30 points to the Raiders in Week 9, and followed that up by surrendering 49 points and 640 total yards of offense to the Cowboys last week. However, Wink Martindale's unit was able to put all of that behind them as they forced an incredible five turnovers and held a surging Commanders offense to just 19 points. The special teams unit added a sixth takeaway, as well.

"Yeah, got the ball," Daboll said about the defense's performance. "Get the ball five times and one on special teams. That's hard to do in this league. They flew around. They played with effort. They made some timely plays too for us. Obviously, like to do a better job at the end there but again, they're tough-minded competitors and I thought this week was not much different than last week. It was a good week last week too but translate it to the on field performance this week. It's what we're trying to do every week."

Cornerback Nick McCloud was responsible for two of the takeaways, as he intercepted a Sam Howell pass to get things started and later forced a fumble. Linebacker Bobby Okereke, the steady hand of the defense all season, also forced two fumbles. Cornerback Darnay Holmes made an impressive interception later in the game, and linebacker Isaiah Simmons sealed the victory with a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown in the final minute of the game.

"I think everybody put everything that's been happening to us to the side and we've really just been playing for one another," Simmons told the media in the locker room. "Just playing with your brother next to you knowing that he's trying to take care of his family and you're trying to do the same. Just out there playing for each other and knowing that the guy next to you has a 'why'. So going out there and not letting your boys down, I really think that's what helped us all come together, even when things aren't going well. Everybody understands what our objective is and we're just playing for each other."

The six takeaways were the most the Giants had in a game since September 25, 2014, also against the Commanders.

View photos from the Giants' Week 11 matchup against the Washington Commanders.

2. Touchdown Tommy

In Week 10, Tommy DeVito became the first rookie free agent quarterback to start a non-strike game for the Giants in the Super Bowl Era (since 1967). This week, he picked up his first NFL victory and looked very impressive in the process. DeVito completed 18 of 26 passes (69.2 percent) for 246 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, which earned him a passer rating of 137.7. His stats on third down were even more eye-opening, as he went seven for eight for 113 yards and two touchdowns for a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

"It means a lot," DeVito said about picking up his first win as the starter. "It means a lot to a sports team, right? Not the season we wanted as far as it is to come back in, week after week and just continuing just to work and study and practice hard. After the last couple weeks of not getting the result we wanted, just to have that feeling in this game which is not getting the result we wanted in the end, you know it means a lot. We're going to enjoy it. We're gonna celebrate it but we know what it takes. We have what it takes so Monday we're gonna be back to the drawing board and then on to next week."

It wasn't all perfect. The rookie quarterback did take nine sacks, and after the game Daboll said they were not all on the offensive line. But overall, DeVito put together a strong performance, becoming the first Giants quarterback this season to throw three touchdown passes in a game. Between his three touchdowns against the Commanders and his two against the Cowboys last week, DeVito became the first Giants quarterback with at least five in his first two NFL starts since 1950.

"When things are going right, the game is going right and it's a lot of fun, because it feels like you're just enjoying playing the game of football like when you were a kid," said DeVito. "It's easy to get away from that when things aren't going good. Like I said, great play calls by [Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka]. Great execution by everybody and you know, the offense, defense, and special teams held their own and some had a tremendous day."

3. Saquon comes up clutch

After Bobby Okereke punched the ball out of Chris Rodriguez's hands for the Giants' fifth takeaway of the game, the Giants got the ball at their own 32-yard line with 42 seconds left in the third quarter. Up to this point, running back Saquon Barkley had been completely shut down in the run game, totaling -2 yards on six carries. But with the Giants holding just a 14-12 lead as the fourth quarter neared, the sixth-year running back kicked it into high gear.

In the last 16 minutes of the game, Barkley totaled 85 rushing yards on just eight carries, good for an average of 10.6 yards per carry. He also scored the Giants' final offensive touchdown on a five-yard pass from Tommy Devito, which helped the Giants extend their lead to 21-12. This was Barkley's second receiving touchdown of the game, as he got the Giants on the board in the first quarter with an incredible 24-yard catch in the end zone. He finished the game tied for the team-lead with four receptions while ranking second with 57 receiving yards.

"It felt great," Barkley said about his production in the passing game. "Especially the first one, which is a play that I've been asking for a long time. So, when it got called, in my mind I was like, 'I can't mess this one up'. It feels good to get into the endzone twice and feels good to get a win. Obviously, just being critical of myself. This last time I could've done better, especially my pass protection. Gonna go back, watch film and get ready for next week."

Sunday was Barkley's best performance of the year. The talented running back finished with season-highs in total yards from scrimmage (140), yards per carry (5.9), and receiving yards (57) while his two touchdowns matched his season-best from Week 2. It also marked the fourth time in the last five weeks that Barkley has topped 100 yards from scrimmage. His 658 total yards from scrimmage since Week 6 is the second-most in the NFL behind Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (688).

4. Kayvon's breakout continues

Outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux continued his breakout sophomore campaign with another stellar outing against the Commanders Sunday. The second-year edge rusher recorded two sacks, his fourth game with more than one sack this season, and added three quarterback hits and a pass breakup. He finished the game with five total tackles (three solo).

Thibodeaux dominated his matchup against Commanders left tackle Charles Leno. According to Next Gen Stats, the second-year outside linebacker generated a season-high eight pressures and two sacks on 33 one-on-one matchups against the veteran tackle. Thibodeaux had his quickest get-off speed in a game this season (0.68 seconds), which resulted in five of his eight pressures coming in under 2.5 seconds.

"It's a divisional opponent, so we all knew what was on the line," said Thibodeaux, who has 3.5 sacks against the Commanders this year. "It's a game that mattered, I'm happy we got the win."

The 22-year-old now has 10.5 sacks on the season, which has him tied with Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby for the fifth-most in the NFL, as he became the first player ever to reach double-digit sacks in a Wink Martindale-led defense. Additionally, he became just the third player over the last six seasons to have 10+ sacks over the first 11 weeks of the season within their first two years in the NFL, joining Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons and Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt.

"It's such a blessing," Thibodeaux said about reaching double digit sacks. "You work your whole life to be in the NFL. You work every day to get sacks, that's why they drafted me. So being able to deliver for this team and get a win gives me no better feeling."

5. Playmakers step up

Barkley made his presence felt in the passing game in a big way, but he was far from the only playmaker to step up Sunday. Despite leaving the game early with an arm injury, wide receiver Darius Slayton had his best game of the season against the Commanders. Slayton caught four passes for a season-high 82 yards and found the end zone for the first time on a nifty 40-yard catch-and-run. Daboll did not have an update on Slayton's arm when he spoke to the media Monday.

Tight end Daniel Bellinger caught three passes for 38 yards, while wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson also reeled in three passes for 35 yards. While it wasn't the highest volume day for the young wide receiver, Robinson was still able to contribute in other ways. The second-year wideout helped spark Barkley's second-half explosion by delivering a big block on the running back's 36-yard run to end the third quarter.

"It was pretty exciting," Robinson said about the block. "I knew whenever we had the play called, I knew that I would have a pretty big block on that play so got my chin strap ready to go and was ready to go and made the big block."

Additionally, wide receivers Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard and Jalin Hyatt combined for another four receptions for 34 yards. highlights some standouts from the team's Week 11 win over the Commanders.


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