A full calendar year had passed since the Giants last scored an opening-possession touchdown. In football time, the drought was at 20 games.
But that's where the streak expired. The clock reset on Sunday against San Francisco when the team dialed up one of its rising and most productive targets of the season: Larry Donnell. On second-and-seven, quarterback Eli Manning found the tight end open over the middle for a 19-yard score and an early 7-0 lead.
"We ran the play before against Washington [in Week 4] and came up short on it," Donnell said. "It was the same play, but we caught it again this week. We saw we had the opportunity to do it again and we did, and it was wide open. As soon as I got through, Eli put it there, and I just walked in, basically just walked in."
Speaking of that Washington game, that's where Donnell, who originally signed with the Giants in 2012 as an undrafted rookie out of Grambling State, turned in a true breakout performance, catching three first-half touchdowns in a 31-point victory over the Redskins.
Last Sunday brought Donnell's tally up to six touchdowns through 10 games of his first season as a significant contributor on offense. Donnell played all 16 games last season but mostly saw time as a reserve, recording just three catches for 31 yards. But now, after working his way up from the practice squad, Donnell is on pace for one of the best seasons by a tight end in Giants history, including the touchdown record.
"It's just a confidence booster, a confidence builder," Donnell said about his season. "And more than anything, the confidence for me comes from just becoming more comfortable in the offense and becoming more comfortable with the game. It's helping me a lot in that aspect."
With Larry Donnell getting his 6th TD this season, we take a look at the Top-10 single season TDs by a Giants tight end.
|**Notable seasons by tight ends in Giants history**|
|2014||Larry Donnell (current)||44||437||9.9||6|
|2014||Larry Donnell (projected)||70||699||9.9||10|
|*Giants single-season record by a tight end|
|**Notable seasons by tight ends in NFL history**|
|2011||Rob Gronkowski (NE)||90||1,327**||14.7||17**|
|2012||Jason Witten (DAL)||110**||1,039||9.4||3|
|2013||Jimmy Graham (NO)||86||1,215||14.1||16|
|**NFL single-season record by a tight end|