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Film Review: Analyzing key plays, snap counts

DANIEL-JONES

The Giants and Commanders tied at Metlife Stadium, 20-20, on Sunday afternoon. Here's what I saw on film:

1. Once again, the Giants scored on the drives where they had explosive plays or short fields, and failed to score on all their other drives. The Giants finished the game with only three plays of more than 15 yards (each went for more than 20). The Giants' first scoring drive went 45 yards and ended in a field goal, with 21 coming on a Daniel Jones scramble up the middle.

Jones was a weapon in the running game the entire game. The 21-yard gain is the first play in this set, but the next two are also first downs on a second- and third-and-7.

Jones led the Giants with 71 yards on just 13 carries.

The Giants' second scoring drive went 81 yards on just five plays for a touchdown. The big play was Darius Slayton's 55-yard catch, which brought the ball from the Giants 19 to the Washington 26. This is a perfect example of attacking a specific matchup.

Christian Holmes was a 2022 seventh-round draft pick and had only played 61 defensive snaps (55 of which came last week) replacing Benjamin St. Juste as a starting outside cornerback. He was in good coverage, on top of Slayton in Cover-3, but Jones' trust that Slayton would win in a contested catch situation was repaid in full.

The Giants later beat Holmes on a whip route to score their lone second half touchdown following their defense's only takeaway.

After the Slayton big catch, the Giants scored three plays later (one of which was one of the aforementioned Jones scramble for a first down).

Slayton had another chance for a big catch in the fourth quarter but he was unable to come up with a leaping grab after a blown coverage by Washington. On the next play, he was targeted deep again, but after a lot of contact with the cornerback, the pass fell incomplete. If the Giants had been able to complete one more of those explosive plays they would have likely won the game.

The Giants' third scoring drive came on their final possession of the first half. In an odd two-minute drill situation, the Giants gained 40 of their 66 yards on runs. The big gain came on a draw play against a five man rush and man coverage behind it. The offensive linemen won their responsibilities, with Mark Glowinski clearing out Efe Obada at the point of attack for a 21-yard gain.

The Giants gained 187 yards on those three scoring drives with 97 yards coming on those three explosive plays. On the Giants' 10 other drives (not counting the kneel down), they gained 139 yards.

The Giants' fourth and final score came off of Taylor Heinicke's lost fumble, which gave the Giants the ball on the Washington 20 and a short field.

The Giants' pre-snap formation put four rushers on the right side of the Commanders' line of scrimmage. It forced them to slide the protection in that direction pre-snap, which gave Ojulari a 1-on-1 against tight end John Bates. He got off quickly at the snap and got outside of Bates' shoulder and used a dip-and-rip move to get to Heinicke and knock out the ball before his arm was going forward.

The Giants' coverage on the play also deserves a lot of credit, with good man coverage throughout (with a safety in deep center field). Julian Love, the other safety, served as a double team on Terry McLaurin to the right of the offensive formation.

2. The Giants' pass rush had one of its most productive games of the season, tallying 26 pressures according to Pro Football Focus. The Giants 45.8% pressure rate was the second-highest in Week 13, while their 39.6% blitz rate ranked fifth.

Aezez Ojulari had an active day in his first game back, playing 58% of the snaps (49 total). In addition to the stip-sack above, he also got consistent pressure on the quarterback. He showed great burst off the line of scrimmage with his fresh legs on the first play in this set. On the second, he used his length to bull rush against the right guard.

He also had a pair of unblocked pressures late in the game.

Dexter Lawrence also continued his string of strong play shrinking the depth of the pocket and getting his sixth sack of the season.

Kayvon Thibodeaux added a sack on a play he was completely unblocked, and had two quarterback hits. Jihad Ward had a sack and forced fumble in one of his best pass rushing games of the year, and Justin Ellis got his first sack of the season.

3. The Giants' traditional running game struggled to sustain positive gains in the second half and create big plays, spare the 21-yard draw at the end of the second quarter. Barkley ran it well in the first half, with 11 rushes for 60 yards, though 32 of those yards came on four carries on the two-minute drive at the end of the second quarter when the Commanders were willing to concede running plays.

In the second half and overtime, Barkley ran it just seven times for three yards. His carries went for 1, 1, 0, -1, 0, -3 and 5 yards. Washington consistently had men in the backfield and loaded the box against multiple tight end personnel packages for the Giants.

As the running game stalled in the second half, so did the Giants' offense. The Giants managed only one drive of more than 20 yards in the second half and overtime, a 41-yard drive in overtime that ended in a punt. Only one of those drives, the same 41-yarder in overtime, had more than five plays. In the second half and overtime, Washington won the time of possession battle 24:06 to 15:54 and ran 50 plays to the Giants' 34.

Daniel Bellinger returned and contributed in the run game in his 64 snaps (97%). Here's a look at four plays where he impacted the running game.

Other Notes:

* Daniel Jones was very efficient moving the football, completing 25 of 31 passes (80.6%) for 200 yards and a touchdown. He got rid of the ball relatively quickly (2.71 second average time to throw – which is inflated due to his scrambles) and threw mostly in the short areas of the field. He attempted only five passes that traveled more than 10 yards in the air, according to PFF. He completed two for 69 yards. He had two incompletions that traveled 34 and 43 yards in the air (both to Slayton).

The coaching staff did a good job trying to mitigate the Washington pass rush. According to PFF, Jones had only 20 dropbacks that did not feature a screen, play action or RPO. On those plays, he averaged only 2.14 seconds to throw, but was still sacked three times.

* Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal did a great job slowing down Montez Sweat in the game. On 14 pass rush snaps, he had no pressures, according to PFF. Jonathan Allen had a sack and Daron Payne had two, but neither had any other additional quarterback hits in the game. Aside from Washington's four sacks, there were no other hits on Daniel Jones.

* The Giants' rush defense gave up 165 yards on 4.6 yards per carry, but Washington only had one run of 20 or more yards and one other that eclipsed 15 yards. The Commanders did had no plays go for more than 30 yards in the game. The Giants forced Washington into sustaining long drives, and even though they finished with 411 yards of offense, only two drives got into the red zone. The Giants won the battle of field position, making Washington start on average at their own 23. Five of Washington's final seven drives, and four of their last five, started inside their own 12.

* Nick Gates played all the offensive snaps at left guard and controlled Jonathan Allen well for most of the game.

* Saquon Barkley played 88% of the team's snaps. Isaiah Hodgins has cemented himself as the team's second receiver and played 80% of the snaps.

* On defense, the only players to play 100% of the snaps were Julian Love, Nick McCloud and Fabian Moureau. Jason Pinnock played 93% of the safety snaps, while Dane Belton only played six special teams reps. Dexter Lawrence played 91% of the snaps (77 total) and Kayvon Thibodeaux 87%.

View photos from the Giants' Week 13 game against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium.

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