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Cover 4

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Cover 4: Giants stack culture-building victories


The crew reacts to the Giants' 5-1 start, including their most recent comeback win over the Ravens:

John Schmeelk: The Giants had no business beating the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The Giants were outgained by 168 yards. The Ravens ran for 211 yards and averaged an astounding 8.8 yards per carry. Mark Andrews caught seven passes for 106 yards. The Ravens had four plays go for 20 or more yards, including two that went for 30. The Giants had no plays go for 20 or more yards. The Ravens had seven plays that went for as many or more yards than the Giants' longest play from scrimmage. The Ravens only punted twice, including their drive at the end of the first half when the they conceded the possession after a Dexter Lawrence sack.

Yet, the Giants won the football game.

The Giants won the turnover battle, 2-1, though it was really more like a +2 advantage given Jones' fumble happened on a Hail Mary attempt to end the first half. The Giants had a 47-yard kickoff return to help set-up a touchdown. Lamar Jackson's interception gave the Giants the ball on the Ravens 13 to set-up Saquon Barkley's touchdown. The Giants only had one drive that went for more than 60 yards.

The Giants also outplayed the Ravens in key situations. The Giants went 7-of-13 on third downs (not including the final kneel down) and scored touchdowns on three of four red zone opportunities (not including the final kneel downs) while the Ravens were just 4-10 on third downs and 1-3 in the red zone. When the Ravens got the ball twice late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game, the Giants forced two turnovers.

The Giants continue to make key plays in critical situations that are overcoming some of the things they are not doing well over the entirety of a game. They have overcome double-digit deficits against three teams that have a history of playing good football (two of which were No. 1 seeds last season) – the Titans, Packers and Ravens. Despite those deficits, the coaching staff has never deviated from the gameplan that gives the team the best chance to win. The entire operation has been extremely disciplined all season long.

The coaches and players never quit. And they keep winning.

Dan Salomone: Brian Daboll doesn't want his team to get too far ahead of itself, so why don't we take a look back? Set your time machine to 10 a.m. ET on Monday, January 31, 2022 and pull up a seat at his introductory press conference inside the fieldhouse at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. A week removed from his Buffalo offense putting on a show for the ages against Kansas City in a divisional playoff game, Daboll had just driven through a snowstorm after being offered the job in East Rutherford. There weren't many people in the building, but one of them was Daniel Jones.

"To sit up here and say that we're going to do this or we're going to do that, like look, all I know how to do is work," Daboll said at the press conference in the middle of winter. "Work with people, try to build a culture, unite a building, inspire players, coaches, support staff, listen, learn and then ultimately develop the people in our building. That's not just the players. That's the QCs, that's the people underneath the head trainer. That's what we're going to try to do. Do I feel prepared? Yes. Do I know there will be some obstacles and challenges? Of course. That's this league. You've got to be resilient in this league and certainly here you've got to be resilient, right?"

Fast-forward seven months, and the Giants' three victories after trailing by 10+ points are tied for the most in a single season in franchise history. The other three seasons: 2007, '11, and '16.

Lance Medow: If there's one statistic that defined Sunday's game for both teams, it's play in the red zone on both offense and defense. After scoring three touchdowns in four trips inside the Packers 20 during Week 5, the Giants went 3-5 in that area against the Ravens and could have easily made it 4-5 had Saquon Barkley not slid down short of the goal line to help run out the clock. That's just more of a reason why context matters when discussing statistical trends. For the second straight week, the Giants finished drives with touchdowns and that's so critical given all six of their games have been decided by one score (eight points or less).

On the flip side, the Ravens went 1-3 in the red zone, which would explain why Baltimore outgaining New York in most major categories (especially total yards and rushing yards) didn't translate to a win. The Ravens ran the ball very effectively and put together several lengthy drives but, unlike the Giants, they couldn't finish. Instead, they settled for two field goals despite having a 1st-and-goal at the 5 on one of them. The Giants' defense deserves credit given tight end Mark Andrews was open on one of those plays before a Dane Belton deflection caused the ball to ricochet off Andrews and fall incomplete. Otherwise, there's a good chance that results in a touchdown and who knows how the game plays out from there.

Although one of the Giants' red zone touchdowns came as a result of Julian Love's interception, which shortened the field immensely, the onus is still on the offense to capitalize and that's exactly what happened with Saquon Barkley running it in from the 1 after the Giants took over at the Ravens 13. Red zone efficiency or the lack thereof turned out to be a huge difference maker as the Giants once again walked the very fine line of winning and losing in the NFL.

Matt Citak: Throughout the week last week, one of the biggest story lines surrounding Sunday's game was defensive coordinator Wink Martindale facing off against his former team. Despite Martindale downplaying that narrative to the media, it was evident after the game that the win felt a little bit sweeter for the coordinator than an ordinary win.

"He was on top of the world," safety Julian Love said about Martindale. "You'd be kidding yourself if you don't want to beat your former team in any aspect. I know that he's done a great job of not putting that on us of not making this game bigger than it was, but for sure, it means a little more to him. He had an extra chip on his shoulder. He was all smiles after the game."

Coach Brian Daboll had Martindale break down the team in the locker room after the win, and for good reason. The defense held 2019 league MVP Lamar Jackson to a 53.1 completion percentage and a 71.1 passer rating, some of his lowest marks of the season. The unit allowed just 10 points in the second half, which gave the offense the opportunity to mount yet another late comeback. More importantly, the defense registered turnovers on each of the Ravens' final two possessions, one of which led to the game-winning touchdown and the other that sealed the victory for Big Blue, including the defense's first interception of the season.

The defense now ranks seventh in the NFL in points allowed at 18.8, with the passing defense ranking eighth in yards and the run defense coming in at No. 2 in touchdowns allowed. It was clear after the game that the players on defense rallied around their coordinator in Sunday's game against the Ravens, where Martindale had spent the previous 10 seasons.

"I would say that I'm close with Wink, so yes, I want to win for him and succeed for this organization," said Love. "This is my fourth year here, so everything is for the guy next to me because that's what it has to be. That's what good teams do; you play for the people next to you. I think this defense was really rallying around Wink and being resilient."


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