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Cover 4: No such thing as an 'ugly win'


The crew reacts to Sunday's 24-16 win over the Texans as the team improved to 7-2:

John Schmeelk: The reaction to the Giants' win against the Texans has rightfully been focused on Saquon Barkley's 35 carries, the defense in the first half and red zone, and Dexter Lawrence's dominance. But the key to this victory was their passing game. Yes, Daniel Jones only threw it 17 times, but it was the passing game that helped the Giants score touchdowns.

The Giants' three touchdown drives each featured one of the team's longest pass plays of the game. The shallow cross to Darius Slayton that went for 36 yards led to the Giants' first touchdown of the game. The 54-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Slayton produced the Giants' second touchdown. The third touchdown came four plays after a 26-yard pass to Isaiah Hodgins. Two of those completions came on third downs, while the first Slayton catch came on 2nd-and-12.

Obviously, the presence of Saquon Barkley and the effectiveness of the rushing attack played a role in those passing opportunities being available, but the odds that the Giants score on those drives without those big passing plays are slim. Big plays help teams score touchdowns.

The Giants' receivers did most of the work in the passing game. According to PFF, 66% of Jones' yards came on yards after the catch. 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 was 2-of-4 for 62 yards.

Dan Salomone: There is no playoff committee in the NFL. The only style points come in the form of victories. So, while the Giants knew they left points on the board against the Texans and were forced to play yet another one-possession game, all that mattered was the final result.

"It's hard to win in this league," Saquon Barkley responded in his postgame press conference when asked if they care about how they win. " I know you weren't saying that but, an ugly win – I don't even know what that means. A win is a win to be completely honest, and we were able to do that."

And they did that by giving Barkley a career-high 35 carries compared to just 17 pass attempts for Daniel Jones, the second-fewest of his career in a victory as a starter. He attempted just 13 passes in the Week 4 victory over the Bears. Coach Brian Daboll was asked in his post-game news conference about the "conservative" plan.

"I wouldn't use that word," Daboll said. "I would just use we try to do what we think we can do, which was run the ball for 46 times. I think (a previous question) asked me, 'Is it as simple as just running the ball with Saquon Barkley?' The answer's no because they do a good job. They made some runs. But each week, we just do what we think we need to do for that particular game. If it's 60 passes, it's 60 passes. That's what we do as a coaching staff. That's what we'll always do. I wouldn't give it a label. I would just say we try to do the best job we can to formulate a plan and make sure the players execute it."

View photos from the Giants' Week 10 win over the Houston Texans.

Lance Medow: If there's one stat that jumps out to me from Sunday's win over the Texans, it's the Giants' red zone defense and when you win as many one score games as New York has, you can easily point to that facet as one of the biggest reasons why the team has been able to close out contests. Houston piled up 387 total yards and reached the red zone six times yet Davis Mills & Co. produced one touchdown, settled for three field goals and turned the ball over twice. The Texans actually moved inside the Giants 20 on all five of their second-half positions, but Wink Martindale's crew delivered more often than not with their backs literally against the wall. Much like time of possession, red zone opportunities are great but it's not about the high volume or frequency of the trips. Instead, it's about whether you cash in those chances.

The Giants have 12 takeaways on the season and three of them have come in the red zone, including two at the expense of the Texans. Who knows how the game plays out if not for both opportunistic plays. The first was a Jaylon Smith fumble recovery early in the fourth quarter after Leonard Williams poked the ball out of the hands of Dameon Pierce. At that point, New York led by 11 and after the Giants went three-and-out, the Texans had yet another opportunity to cut into the deficit but Mills' pass toward the end zone intended for Philip Dorsett was picked off by Dane Belton. Let's not overlook Dexter Lawrence's pressure on Mills that impacted the throw, one of five quarterback hits for the Giants' former first-round pick. Two completely empty red zone possessions for Houston.

Here's the best way to sum up the Giants' red zone defense. In the Texans' final four possessions of the game, they advanced the ball inside the New York 20 on each drive and ran 13 plays - they managed to gain just one yard. The results included seven negative plays, including three penalties, one of which negated a touchdown, two turnovers, a sack and a run that lost a yard. There were also three incomplete passes.

Matt Citak: The Giants' defense had a strong outing against the Texans, and it started with the effort from the big men in the middle.

Dexter Lawrence had a stellar first half of the season prior to the bye, and it continued on Sunday. Lawrence registered nine total pressures according to Pro Football Focus, setting a career-high. This broke his own record for most single-game pressures by a player over 320 pounds, which he had set in Week 4 against the Bears with his eight total pressures. Lawrence was constantly in the backfield disrupting Davis Mills. PFF had Lawrence down for an incredible 28.9 win percentage on his pass rush snaps. He picked up a sack and five quarterback hits, bringing his season totals to five and 16, respectively, both of which set new career-best marks with eight games to go. He also added a run stop.

Lining up next to Lawrence was Leonard Williams, who also put together a dominant outing. Lawrence registered a half-sack, marking the second consecutive game in which he got into the sack column, and added a forced fumble and four total pressures. He has seven quarterback hits over the last three games after having none over his first three games of the season. But while Lawrence made his presence felt more in the pass rush, his defensive line mate did his damage in the run game. Williams finished with a team-high nine total tackles along with three run stops. His forced fumble also came on a play in which Texans RB Dameon Pierce had the ball in his hands inside the Giants 10.

Both Lawrence and Williams were also able to stay on the field for over 90 percent of the team's defensive snaps, an impressive feat for the two big men. It was the fourth time this season that Lawrence played over 90 percent of the defensive snaps, and the third time in six games for Williams.

The Giants also got solid contributions in the pass rush from safety Jason Pinnock and outside linebacker Jihad Ward. Pinnock, who saw more playing time due to Xavier McKinney's injury, registered 1.5 sacks and four total pressures on just 10 pass rush snaps. Ward picked up a sack, his second of the season, and finished with two total pressures.

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