They had to wait a little longer than they liked to say that, but thanks to the play of defensive lineman Kerry Wynn, Pat Shurmur took home his first game ball as head coach of the New York Giants. The fifth-year pro stuffed the stat sheet with five solo tackles, one for loss, one pass defended, and one forced fumble that helped keep the Texans at bay when the offense dried up in the third quarter of a 27-22 victory in Houston.
“Good things happen when you run to the ball,” Wynn said. “We always preach being relentless and run to the ball. And that’s the reason for the turnovers.”
The Giants, who had scored just 28 points in their first two games combined, got off to the fast start they wanted this week and scored on their first four drives with two touchdowns and two field goals. The defense complemented the offense as the Giants took a 20-6 lead into halftime.
“Offense was rolling today, I like that,” Wynn said. “It’s a good feeling. I see hard work paying off. They work their tails off all week, and it paid off for them.”
After the break, though, the Giants “didn’t move the ball worth a darn” in the words of the head coach. They punted on four consecutive possessions while Houston added a field goal and looked to cut into the deficit further late in the third quarter. But that’s when the Giants on back-to-back stands forced two key turnovers a week after recording neither a sack nor a takeaway.
Wynn put an exclamation point on his big day by stripping the ball from running back Lamar Miller, and cornerback Donte Deayon recovered at the Giants 25 with 3:47 remaining in the third quarter. Then with the Texans driving into Giants territory again on their next possession, inside linebacker Alec Ogletree made like a wide receiver and jumped up to grab an interception off Deshaun Watson intended for Miller in the end zone. The Giants failed to turn either one into points, but they bought enough time for the offense to seal the victory eventually on Sterling Shepard’s touchdown catch with 2:08 to play.
“That was a boost because you felt the game tipping a little bit,” Shurmur said of the takeaways. "We really weren’t doing a very good job of moving the ball in that stretch of the game. They were moving the ball, and then to get turnovers like that, that’s a huge boost.”
Right before Ogletree’s interception, rookie B.J. Hill notched the second of three sacks for the Giants’ defense. Fellow rookie Lorenzo Carter had the first of the afternoon, and Mario Edwards Jr. put the finishing touches on the defensive showing on the Texans’ last possession.
“We just had to finish,” Wynn said. “We were getting close, close to the quarterback. We finally started getting a piece of him. … We did some good things in the first two games, but a lot of little things we had to correct. And I thought we corrected them today and we were victorious.”