The Giants (7-2) defeated the Houston Texans, 24-16, on Sunday. The Giants' seven wins – and one loss – have come in one-score games.
1. The Giants' defense was dominant in the first half and the main reason the team was able to head into halftime leading, 7-3. They forced three-and-outs on the Texans' first three drives, and allowed fewer than 15 yards on five of the six first-half possessions. How? They shut down the run game.
Dameon Pierce had 10 rushes for 66 yards in the first half, but 44 came on one run that set up the Texans' field goal. The first three of Pierce's runs of the game and four of his first seven runs went for no gain or negative yards. Here are those four stops, which were a team effort with plays from Henry Moundeaux, Leonard Williams, Jaylon Smith, Dexter Lawrence and others.
The strong run defense set up Wink Martindale's patented blitz packages that Houston struggled to pick up early and produced free rushers throughout the early portions of the game. It either resulted in sacks or forced Mills to get rid of the ball so quickly it made converting third-and-long extremely difficult. These are all failed third-and-long conversions off Giants' blitzes in the first half.
2. Offensively, the Giants decided to go big in this game, unveiling a number of packages using extra tight ends and offensive linemen. In addition to the starting offensive linemen, Nick Gates played 13 snaps, Matt Peart played five, and Jack Anderson played five. Lawrence Cager led the tight ends with 45 snaps with Chris Myarick playing 16 and Tanner Hudson 11.
Saquon Barkley ran it a career high 35 times for 152 yards. It was a workmanlike performance with only one run of 20+ yards (27 yards) and one other that went for more than 15 yards (17 yards). Of Barkley's 35 carries, only four went for negative yards or no gain (only -9 yards on those runs). According to PFF, 60 of his rushing yards came after contact. He truly carried the load.
Daniel Jones had only 17 pass attempts versus 47 team rushing attempts, although big plays in the passing game set up the Giants' touchdowns. The Giants had three touchdown drives (72, 74, and 75 yards) and each had a pass play go for 25+ yards. Darius Slayton continues to emerge as the team's big-play wide receiver. His 36-yard catch-and-run on a crossing pattern set up the Giants' first touchdown, while his 54-yard catch-and-run after avoiding a poor tackle attempt by Jalen Pitre resulted in the Giants' second touchdown.
The Giants run action out of "12 personnel" opened up the middle of the field for Slayton on the crossing pattern, with none of the defensive backs in Cover-3 picking him up on the crosser. Slayton finished with three catches for 95 yards, which was the most receiving yards by a Giants player since Kadarius Toney had 189 receiving yards in Week 5 against the Cowboys in 2021.
Isaiah Hodgins, making his Giants debut, had both of his catches go for 15+ yards, finishing with 41. His 26-yard gain here (cleared out by Darius Slayton heading deep down the field against Cover-2) set up the Giants' third and final touchdown.
Despite finishing the game with three completions of 20+ yards, none of Jones' passes traveled more than 20 yards in the air. According to PFF, on passes that traveled 10-20 yards, Daniel Jones went 2-of-4 for 62 yards. A total of 66% of Jones' yards came on yards after the catch.
3. Dexter Lawrence dominated the game in the second half and was a constant hindrance to the Texans' pass game. He finished with a sack, five quarterback hits and a batted pass at the line of scrimmage.
Here's an array of Lawrence's impact plays, many of which he got to operate and win 1-on-1 against center Dan Quessenberry. The fourth play is a batted pass and two of the final three are holding penalties Lawrence drew in the fourth quarter.
* The Giants' red zone defense was once again a key in their victory. The Texans outgained the Giants, 387-367, but were held to just one touchdown in six red zone appearances (thought the last stop came with the clock as a huge factor). The Texans kicked three field goals and had a red zone interception and a fumble. It shielded some struggles by the Giants' defense in the second half. The Texans gained 18 first down across five second-half drives and got the ball inside the Giants 30 on all five.
* Daniel Jones had only one designed run in the game, a quarterback sneak. He told me after the game the lack of keepers on read-option plays had to do with how the Texans were playing the Giants' run game.
* The Giants' two back-to-back 70+ yard scoring drives in the second quarter were the first such consecutive drives the offense had this season.
* With Xavier McKinney injured, Dane Belton stepped in and played 100% of the snaps. Jason Pinnock played 23 snaps and finished the game with 1.5 sacks and was used as a blitzer out of the slot. Julian Love took over McKinney's role as the free safety, playing 57 snaps deep and only four in the box and four in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus. According to PFF, the Giants were primarily a single-high defense, with 47 of their 64 defensive snaps coming in Cover-1 or some variation of Cover-3. Dane Belton's interception came on a two-high look with him having half-field responsibility. Belton played 42 of his defensive snaps at or near the line of scrimmage.
* Leonard Williams ripped the ball away from Dameon Pierce and Jaylon Smith recovered. Smith also grabbed what at the time was a fumble by Davis Mills (when he was stripped by Oshane Ximines in the pocket), but it was later ruled an incomplete pass. Smith played 64% of the defensive snaps, while Micah McFadden played 56% and Tae Crowder just two. Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams played 91% and 92% of the team's defensive snaps, respectively.
Fabian Moreau had one pass defended, but prevented a couple of other contested catches by Nico Collins. He also led the Giants with six tackles.
* Darius Slayton (80%) and Wan'Dale Robinson (75%) got the bulk of the snaps at wide receiver. Kenny Golladay played 26 snaps, but Isaiah Hodgins got more in the second half and finished with 43. Despite utilizing several "big personnel" packages, the Giants featured one running back, one tight end and three receivers (11 personnel) on 77% of their snaps, according to PFF.
* According to PFF, the Giants led the NFL in blitz rate in Week 10, sending extra men on 46.9% of the Texans' pass plays. Houston blitzed on one-third of Giants' pass plays (tied for 10th-most in Week 10). The Giants allowed a 29.2% pressure rate, which was right in the middle of the league in Week 10.
View photos from the Giants' Week 10 win over the Houston Texans.
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