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Giants Now: Things to build on heading into TNF

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Things to build off of heading into Thursday Night Football

Sunday's season opener did not go as the Giants planned, falling to the Denver Broncos 27-13.

While the team did not achieve their desired outcome, there were some positives to come out of the loss that the Giants can build on heading into Thursday's road matchup against Washington.

"I told the team, 'There was a lot of things we can build on, guys.' We can't ride this emotional roller coaster of highs and lows week by week," coach Joe Judge said following the loss. "We've got to look at what the truth is. What did we do well enough that we have to build on? What did we do that we have to correct and clean up? And what's going to make the difference in us being a better team? It doesn't matter if you win by 30 or lose by 30 in terms of how you have to improve. You've got to have a level of improvement every week.

"Our focus has to be we wake up tomorrow morning and we improve. We wake up tomorrow, it's already Thursday of the game week for us because we have a short week. So, our guys have to understand this is not a normal game week in terms of that longer transition. We've got to wake up, be mentally engaged, physically get our bodies right and then we've got a tight turnaround to get down there and play a tough opponent at their home stadium."

Among the positives was the play of center Nick Gates. Heading into Monday Night Football, Gates finished in a six-way tie for the best pass block rate among the league's centers, and he wasn't the only O-lineman to have some success against Denver's tough pass rush. Left tackle Andrew Thomas earned an 80.4 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus after allowing just two pressures on 45 pass blocking snaps, while left guard Shane Lemieux did not allow a single pressure on 11 pass blocking snaps, receiving a 81.5 pass block grade.

Another bright spot was the play of veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Shepard led the game with seven receptions for 113 yards, and had an impressive 37-yard touchdown catch. PFF handed him a 79.2 overall grade, which ranked 15th in the NFL among all wide receivers, after Daniel Jones had a 155.2 QB Rating when targeting him.

In his Giants debut, wide receiver Kenny Golladay caught 4-of-6 targets for 64 yards, making a couple of strong, contested catches. Jones had a 102.1 QB Rating when targeting the 6-foot-4 receiver, who graded out at 77.7. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams also put up a strong performance in the opener, finishing with one tackle for loss, two quarterback hits and six total pressures, earning a 77.6 overall grade (80.9 run defense grade). Meanwhile, veteran defensive back Logan Ryan finished with a game-high 10 tackles (eight solo), one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit and a forced fumble which he recovered, earning an elite 90.4 overall grade from PFF, including an 85.9 coverage grade. Ryan was the highest-graded safety in the league heading into Monday Night Football.

Other notable performances came from DL Dexter Lawrence (74.0 overall grade) and DL Austin Johnson (77.5 overall grade), while LB Reggie Ragland made a strong impression in his Giants debut, earning a 73.4 overall grade, aided by an 80.0 tackling grade and 79.2 run defense grade.

Giants won't ride 'emotional roller coaster' win or lose

The Giants were excited to play their season opener after an offseason highlighted by marquee acquisitions and in front of fans whose cheers they hadn't heard in almost 21 months. Then they disappointed themselves and the faithful by playing below their expected standards on offense and defense in a 27-13 loss to the Denver Broncos.

But the Giants have no time to dwell on their displeasure. They will return to the field Thursday to play NFC East rival Washington in FedExField.

Given those factors, coach Joe Judge instructed his players with the same honesty and pragmatism that has marked that relationship since his arrival.

"It's real simple for me. A win or a loss, you've got to come out and you've got to show your team the truth of what happens on tape," Judge said. "You've got to show them examples of winning football, what we did well, things we can build on and things that are going to help us move forward and win as a team. Then, you've got to show them things that you have to eliminate as a team, things you have to improve on, and you have to do it fast to make sure you don't eliminate opportunities.

"To me, it's not about going in there and giving motivational speeches or trying to get in there and embarrass anybody. It's just you put the tape on, you teach through it and you correct it. Our job is to be teachers. … We preach about being mentally tough and it can't be an emotional rollercoaster. Win or lose, it doesn't matter. The emphasis every week is you come in and work to improve. That was the emphasis today, as well."

📸 Must-see photos from Giants vs. Broncos

Check out the gallery below to view the best photos from the Giants' season opener against the Denver Broncos.

Check out the best photos from the Giants' season opener against the Denver Broncos.

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