JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The mindset of the New York Giants has changed, and from the top down.
Not only is the franchise living on the edge: this team has taken up residence there week after week and finding ways to emerge victorious. No matter the circumstances, no matter the deficit, no matter the opponent.
‘We’re bringing teams to the deep end of the pool,’ Giants safety Julian Love told NorthJersey.com, part of the USA TODAY Network following Sunday’s thrilling 23-17 victory over the Jaguars. ‘We’re bringing them to the deep end in critical moments, and we’re gonna drown teams by making plays and with the way we close ’em out.’
And the Giants are doing just that.
For the first time since they were reigning Super Bowl champions 14 seasons ago, the New York Giants are 6-1.
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Chants of ‘Let’s Go Giants’ rang out in TIAA Field, an incredible show of support for the road team, as the tandem of Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley again delivered once again as the Giants rallied for the fourth fourth-quarter comeback of the season en route to the triumph.
Jones and Barkley each topped 100 yards rushing for the game, and Jones was in command throughout. He completed 19 of 30 passes (63.3%) for 202 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, and five of his pass attempts were dropped by receivers. Yet when officials ruled on replay that Barkley stepped out of bounds despite his intention of staying on the field of play to drain the clock in the game’s final minute, the Giants wound up giving Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars one last chance to steal this one.
The Giants led 23-17 after Graham Gano’s 33-yard field goal with 64 seconds remaining, but then Lawrence went to work, taking advantage of a pair of penalties to drive down the field with no timeouts. A controversial roughing the passer on Leonard Williams provided Lawrence and the Jaguars with prime chances from the 17-yard line with 16 seconds left.
Following two incomplete passes, with 10 seconds and one throw left, Lawrence hit Christian Kirk just short of the goal line, where he was immediately hit by cornerback Fabian Moreau, then safeties Xavier McKinney and Julian Love, and finally Landon Collins as the whistles blew and time expired.
‘Keep him out of the end zone,’ McKinney said. ‘He was in the air when he caught it. It was harder when he caught the ball, and the offensive line started coming trying to push the pile forward [into the end zone].’
Added Collins: ‘This team doesn’t quit. This team doesn’t break. They made that play at the goal line, but Fab [Moreau], we made the play that mattered most.’
The Giants have won three games in a row now and they have a new resolve under Brian Daboll.
Normally cool and somewhat reserved, Jones showed a fire in his game that teammates insist is there, even if we rarely see his emotion spill out on the field.
There were times the Giants let Jones down on Sunday, but he refused to stay there.
‘I wish he would show it more,’ center Jon Feliciano said of Jones, who was animated after receiver Marcus Johnson dropped a fourth-down pass at the goal line in the third quarter, again on the sideline trying to empower the defense following his 1-yard touchdown plunge gave the Giants a 20-17 lead with 5:31 left.
The Giants were certainly glad to be leaving for home with a victory, but there was little to no satisfaction in the way the game played out. Daboll and select players repeatedly talked about things that needed to be cleaned up, and not just in a matter of coach speak; more than anything else, that’s a sign of growth for a team that sees the bigger picture for what it is, and not just the standings or a record that is far better than expected.
The Giants are making it clear that they have grown tired of being viewed as a feel-good, underdog story.
They expect to win, and remain undaunted in the face of those who refuse to believe in them.
“I don’t care what people around the league do. F**k ’em,’ Thibodeaux said, adding: ‘Only people that matter are the people in this room.’
Barkley had 18 yards rushing on nine carries in the first half and just additional 20 yards in the third quarter before the Giants imposed their will on the ground. Between Barkley (110) and Jones (107), and an offensive line that had replacements at left guard (Joshua Ezeudu) and right tackle (Tyre Phillips) due to knee injuries for starters Ben Bredeson and Evan Neal, the Giants would not be denied. Again.
‘When you lean on a defense, lean on the defense, you can feel them soften up,’ Barkley said. ‘Take ’em to the deep water and drown ’em.’
The Giants have their mantra, and they have one of the best records in the NFL. They have a quarterback who is ‘balling,’ in the words of teammates, a running back making plays even when all 11 sets of eyes are focused on stopping him and a defense that refuses to believe it will be stopped.
‘When you think you won’t lose, and you believe you’re going to win, regardless of the situation, that’s special,’ Collins told NorthJersey.com. ‘That’s what makes this team a winning team, and we’re believing in each other.’
He paused before adding: ‘Believe that, because we do.’