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Cover 3: What the win means for the Giants


The crew reacts to the Giants' thrilling 27-21 overtime victory in New Orleans.

John Schmeelk: You can find a detailed look at the Giants-Saints game in Five Factors, so let's go big picture here.

In the first three weeks of the season, you saw how a couple of plays in the Giants losses to Washington and Atlanta could have easily turned victory into defeat. As this game unfolded, those same kind of plays went a different direction and gave the Giants a victory.

If John Ross's fumble at the goal line takes one more quick bounce and hits the end line before he gets to it (or the Saints pursue the ball), the Giants lose possession and maybe the game. If Saquon Barkley's fumble in overtime takes a different hop towards a Saints player, the Giants never have a chance to win the game in overtime.

If a flag isn't thrown on Alex Trautman's hold on Leonard Williams on Kenny Stills' 40-yard touchdown run, the Giants likely don't win. If Taysom Hill does a better job leading Deonte Harris on his deep post one play later, the Saints probably have seven more points and the Giants lose. These are all plays the Giants had little control over but changed the game. It's true that Leonard Williams forced Trautman to hold, but no one forces the official to throw the flag.

Then, there are little plays the Giants made that changed the game. Ross hustled to get on his fumble before it went out of bounds gave the Giants a 7-0 first-quarter lead. Kenny Golladay ran through a Malcolm Jenkins tackle in the fourth quarter to convert a 3rd-and-7 and turn a short gain into a chunk play that put the Giants in field goal range put the game into overtime. Barkley gained 18 yards on a screen pass to convert a 2nd-and-14 was essential to score a winning touchdown in overtime.

These are plays that can be described as above the Xs and Os that helped the Giants win. There weren't nearly enough of these plays in the first three games of the season. Instead, the Giants were failing to make even basic plays that turned victory into defeat.

None of this is meant to in any way denigrate the Giants' win. Instead, it's meant to show how the line between winning and losing in the NFL is extremely thin. The old cliché is that every game has a half dozen to a dozen plays that determine who wins. Those big plays can be decided by skill or by luck. For the first time this season, the Giants made enough of those plays to get a victory. If the Giants find themselves on the right side of those plays next week, they could be looking at a two-game winning streak.

Check out the best photos from the New York Giants' Week 4 contest against the New Orleans Saints.