The offense comes to life in Giants’ win over Houston

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

There obviously was a lot to like in Sunday’s 30-17 win over Houston on Sunday. The fact that the Giants won the game to avoid an 0-3 start is the primary reason to be feeling good this morning, but there were other things. The offense came to life.

QB Eli Manning looks like he’s in command again. He hit on 75% of his passes (21 of 28) with 2 TD and no INTs. Could this be a trend? One can only hope.

RB Rashad Jennings showed why the Giants brought him here. His 176 yards on the ground (5.2 YPC) were something the Giants haven’t seen around here since the Tiki Barber days.

The salsa is back. WR Victor Cruz scored a TD and had a 61-yard reception. Eli hit him while he was in motion, leading to the much-desired YAC (yards after catch) this new offense promised to bring.

Most will remember Larry Donnell’s lost fumble in the red zone, but he logged in another solid game. He caught all six of his targets for  45 yards.

The offensive line did a yeoman’s job, holding the Texans to just one sack and opening holes for the running game.

Lost among all the excitement, however, were the Giants’ poor performances on third down (4/12), fourth down (0/1) and in the red zone (2/7).

Giants-Texans Postmortem

The Giants defeated the Houston Texans, 30-17, at Metlife Stadium on Sunday for their first win of the 2014 regular season (Gamebook).

The Giants are currently tied with the Washington Redskins for third place in the NFC East with a 1-2 record. Philadelphia is in first place with 3-0 record and Dallas is in second place at 2-1.

Sunday’s NFC East Results:

Philadelphia 37, Washington 34
Dallas 34, St. Louis 31
New York 30, Houston 17

GEICO SportsNite: The Giants won their first game of the season, 30-17, over the Houston Texans on Sunday at the Meadowlands.

The Giants’ next game is this Thursday, Sept 25, at 8:25pm vs the Redskins in Washington.

READ: Giants-Texans Postgame Notes

From the Giants Public Relations Dept:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Notes and statistics from the Giants’ 30-17 victory over the Houston Texans in MetLife Stadium:

*The Giants won for the first time this season and improved to 1-2. They return to action Thursday night in Washington.

*The Giants finished with 419 total yards, their highest total since they had 478 in a loss in Dallas on Sept. 8, 2013 and the most they’ve had in a regular-season victory since they gained 437, also against the Cowboys, on Jan. 1, 2012.

*The Giants rushed for 193 yards, their highest total on the ground since they ran for 202 yards vs. Dallas on Nov. 24, 2013. They ran for 53 and 81 yards in their first two games.

*The Giants’ 26 first downs was their highest total since they had 28 against Denver on Sept. 15, 2013.

*The Giants’ time of possession of 32:34 was their highest since they held the ball for 35:14 vs. Green Bay on Nov. 17, 2013.

*Houston’s 419 yards were the most by a Giants opponent since Philadelphia gained 439 yards on Oct. 6, 2013.

*The Giants held a 14-0 lead at halftime (when their yardage advantage was 262-83). It was the first time they had held their opponents scoreless in the first two quarters since Oct. 27, 2013, when they led in Philadelphia, 12-0, on their way to a 15-7 victory. It was the first time they did not allow a touchdown in the first half since Dec. 29, 2013, when they led Washington, 10-6, and won, 20-6.

*The Giants increased their lead in the third quarter to 17-0, their largest advantage since they led Philadelphia, 21-0, on Dec. 30, 2012.

*The victory was the 171st of head coach Tom Coughlin’s career (159 regular season, 12 postseason). That broke a tie with one Hall of Famer (Paul Brown) and moved him into a tie with another (Joe Gibbs) for 13th on the NFL’s career list. Mike Holmgren is next on the list with 174 victories.

*For the first time this season, the Giants had a takeaway (they intercepted three of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s passes) and won the turnover battle. Prince Amukamara, Antrel Rolle and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had the interceptions. It was the first time the Giants picked off three passes in a game since Nov. 17, 2013, when Jon Beason, Jason Pierre-Paul and Rolle had interceptions against Green Bay.

*Amukamara had the Giants’ first takeaway of the season when he intercepted a Fitzpatrick pass with 7:31 remaining in the first quarter.

*Rolle intercepted a Fitzpatrick pass with 1:48 remaining in the second quarter. Rolle returned the ball 25 yards to the Texans’ two-yard line. It was Rolle’s first pick since Dec. 15, 2013, when he intercepted Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Rolle had a career-high six interceptions last season. His pick Sunday set up Rashad Jennings’ one-yard touchdown run.

*Rodgers-Cromartie’s interception in the fourth quarter was his first as a Giant and the 20th of his career. His last pick was on Dec. 22, 2013, when he played for Denver against…Houston. The quarterback was Matt Schaub.

*Jennings led the Giants with 176 rushing yards on 34 carries. Both totals are career highs. His previous bests were achieved when he played for Oakland last season – 23 carries on Dec. 15 vs. Kansas City and 150 yards on Nov. 17 at Houston. It was the fifth 100-yard game of Jennings’ career.

*Jennings’ 34 carries were the most by a Giant since Dec. 5, 1999, when Joe Montgomery had 38 rushing attempts vs. the Jets. His 176 were the highest total by a Giants back since Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 200 yards on 30 carries vs Cleveland on Oct. 7, 2012. It was the first 100-yard performance by a Giant since Andre Brown ran for 127 yards on Nov. 24, 2013 vs. Dallas and the first 150-yard game since Bradshaw’s performance.

*Eli Manning completed 21 of 28 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating of 123.2 was his highest in a game since Dec. 30, 2012, when it was 134.5 vs. Philadelphia. Manning did not throw an interception for the first time since last Nov. 24 vs. Dallas and he was sacked just once.

*Victor Cruz caught five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. It was Cruz’s first 100-yard game since Nov. 17, 2013 vs. Green Bay and the first by a Giants receiver since Hakeem Nicks had 135 yards on five catches vs. San Diego last Dec 8.

*It was Cruz’s 17th career regular-season 100-yard game, tying him with Homer Jones for second place in franchise history. Amani Toomer holds the Giants record with 22 100-yard receiving games. The Giants are 9-8 when Cruz has at least 100 yards.

*Cruz scored the game’s first touchdown on a 26-yard reception, his first score since Sept. 29, 2013 at Kansas City and his first at home since Dec. 30, 2012 vs. Philadelphia. Cruz had played 12 games and caught 65 passes between touchdowns.

*In the first quarter, Cruz had a 61-yard catch-and-run, his longest reception since his 69-yard touchdown at Kansas City last Sept. 29.

*Tight end Daniel Fells scored his second touchdown in as many weeks, on a nine-yard pass from Manning in the fourth quarter.

*Damontre Moore blocked a Shane Lechler punt in the fourth quarter, the first block by a Giant since Nov. 10, 2013, when Moore blocked a punt by Oakland’s Marquette King.

*Josh Brown succeeded on his first three field goal attempts of the season, from 39, 29, and 31 yards. His first try – which would have been from 30 yards – never got off the ground, because Zak DeOssie’s low snap bounced past holder Steve Weatherford. Brown picked up the ball, but was quickly tackled.

*Houston scored a touchdown on a 93-yard drive in the third quarter, capped by a 44-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to Damaris Johnson. It was the longest touchdown drive allowed by the Giants since Sept. 29, 2013, when the Chiefs drove 98 yards in Kansas City.

*Coughlin won his first replay challenge of the season, and it was a turning point in the game. With 10:41 remaining in the fourth quarter, Houston faced a third-and-eight from its own 29. The Giants led, 20-10, when Fitzpatrick scrambled for what was ruled an eight-yard gain and a first down. Coughlin challenged the ruling, saying Fitzpatrick was stopped short of a first down. After review, referee Terry McAulay reversed the call, ruling Fitzpatrick was stopped a yard short of the marker. Instead of continuing a drive that could have lifted them to within three points of the lead, the Texans were forced to punt. On the next play, Moore blocked Lechler’s kick, and three plays after that, Manning threw the touchdown pass to Fells that increased the Giants’ lead to 27-10, with 9:25 remaining.

Coughlin is 1-0 this season, 41-46 with the Giants and 50-53 in his career on replay challenges.

*The Texans successfully executed a fake punt on their first possession when Shane Lechler threw a 10-yard pass to Alfred Blue. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lechler was the first punter to complete a pass against the Giants since New Orleans’ Tommy Barnhardt on Dec. 20, 1993.

*Wide receiver Preston Parker made his first career start when the Giants opened the game in a three-wideout alignment. Parker caught three passes for 33 yards.

*With Jon Beason (foot/ankle) inactive, Jameel McClain moved over from the strong side to start at middle linebacker and Mark Herzlich played strongside backer. It was Herzlich’s seventh career start, his first since Sept. 29, 2013 at Kansas City and second at a position other than middle linebacker in a 3-4 defense. On Dec. 23, 2012, Herzlich was one of four starting linebackers for the Giants in Baltimore.

*McClain led the Giants with 11 tackles (nine solo) and teamed up Johnathan Hankins for a six-yard, second-quarter sack that was the first allowed by the Texans this season.

*Cornerback Trumaine McBride was credited with his first career sack when he tackled Fitzpatrick for a one-yard loss late in the second quarter.

*Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn played for the first time this season, but was not credited with a tackle. Kuhn missed the first two games with an ankle injury.

*Offensive lineman Adam Snyder made his Giants debut on special teams.

*Wide receiver Julian Talley, signed last week off the practice squad, played on special teams.

*Linebacker Dan Fox, signed last week off the practice squad, made his NFL debut on special teams.

*The Giants’ inactive players were wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), linebacker Jon Beason (foot/ankle), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring), offense linemen Charles Brown and James Brewer, defensive tackle Jay Bromley and defensive end Kerry Wynn.

Giants-Texans postgame quotebook

Some quotes and reactions after Sunday’s 30-17 win over Houston at MetLife Stadium, the Giants’ first victory of the season…

NFL: Houston Texans at New York GiantsHead coach Tom Coughlin: “Nice to win. Nice to win, nice to do a lot of good things in the process. We talked about winning the turnover battle, obviously we’re plus-two. Rushed for 193, we had interception turnovers. We blocked a punt, which is really, really good. We won the time of possession and we forced them to play from behind. They hadn’t played from behind much this year and that was a strong contributor as well. We left some plays out there, no doubt. We had the bad snap from center, that hurt us on the field goal. We had the turnover of the drive, some of the long drives that we had, but they came out in the second half, made some adjustments and moved the ball but we were able to go down and score, the turnovers in point-blank range and put the points on the board. Good win for our team, we needed it. A lot of guys played well, I’m looking forward to looking at this tape. Short week so here we go.”

QB Eli Manning: “That is the way it is supposed to work. I thought it started up front with our offensive line. They did an outstanding job opening up lanes. Rashad [Jennings] ran hard. We didn’t get stuck in many third-and-longs. We didn’t have many third downs at all, it felt like. Receivers, we got the ball out quick. The receivers made catches. They had good runs after the catch. It was efficient. We mixed it up and went to no-huddle, then we went with some standard offense and huddled up. I thought we had a good combination and a good mix. Guys were well-prepared and we played well, but we still have to fix some things.”

DE Jason Pierre-Paul: “We came out, and we did our assignments. Things went wrong for the offense, we lost the ball or whatever, but we knew we had to contain and do our jobs. As long as we did our jobs, we were going to be okay, and you see we won the game…It feels good. We’ve just got to keep on taking it one game at a time, and that’s what we’re going to do. We can’t let this win get over our heads. We still have a lot of work to do, and we’ve got a short week for the Washington Redskins.”

WR Victor Cruz: “It feels good to get ourselves motivated again, ready to play, get our fans excited. I mean, that’s what it’s all about. Coming in there, preparing during the week, and getting a victory…I think the energy level is high on the team. I think we’re confident. This week in practice was indicative of that as well. I think we were just flying around, everybody felt good, and we’re excited to get things going.”

Giants Week 3 fantasy roundup

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

We weren’t able to run this column the first two weeks of the season because the Giants offense was, well . . .you know. Here’s the Giants fantasy roundup after their 30-17 win over the Houston Texans Sunday courtesy of our friends at Rotoworld…

NFL: Houston Texans at New York GiantsRB Rashad Jennings rushed for 176 yards and one touchdown on 34 carries. It was a career day for Jennings, who set a career-high in rushing yards, 68 yards more than his previous mark. He has 381 yards and two scores through three games as the Giants’ clear-cut every-down workhorse. Jennings plays in every situation and gets the goal-line looks, as he pounded his score in from 1 yard out in this one.

QB Eli Manning completed 21 of 28 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Manning has posted back-to-back strong starts after the preseason and Week 1 debacles. Eli hit Victor Cruz for a 61-yard gain on a quick slant early in the first half, before again finding Cruz on a post for a 26-yard score. His best throw of the game, though, went to Daniel Fells for a 9-yard touchdown. Eli placed the ball over the top of the safety and to the right of a linebacker, only where Fells could catch it. The offense is starting to wake up for Giants, but Eli is still just a low-end QB2.

WR Victor Cruz caught five passes for 107 yards and one touchdown Sunday. After a drop-filled first two weeks, Cruz reeled in 5 of 6 targets. He worked mostly against CB Kareem Jackson. Cruz took a quick slant upfield for a 61-yard gain in the first half, but was caught from behind around the 15-yard line. He later found the end zone on a post pattern from 26 yards out. Cruz stopped on a dime, changed direction, and exploded toward the end zone for the score. The Giants’ passing game has found a bit of a rhythm the past two weeks. They’ll look to continue it Thursday against the Redskins. Cruz is a solid WR2/3.

WR Rueben Randle caught five passes for 27 yards Sunday. Randle was targeted a team-high 10 times, and the chemistry between he and Manning appears to be growing. But Randle is seeing mostly short passes. He did see one end-zone look, but got tangled up with the Houston cornerback and couldn’t make the one-handed catch. Randle gets the DeAngelo Hall-less Redskins on Thursday night. He’s a boom-or-bust WR3/4.

TE Larry Donnell caught six passes for 45 yards Sunday. Donnell caught all six passes that came his way, and hasbeen targeted 22 times this season. Donnell was on his way to the end zone in the first half, but ended up losing a fumble at the 4-yard line. He’s put himself in the TE1/2 mix as a favorite of Eli Manning.

RB Andre Williams rushed for 18 yards on six carries Sunday. Williams got one series to himself, but didn’t do much with the carries and was way out-touched by Rashad Jennings, 34-6. Jennings also gets all the goal-line looks, and cashed one in for a 1-yard score Sunday. Williams has no fantasy value in re-draft leagues. He won’t have any unless Jennings gets hurt.

Quick disclosure: I do not have any Giants on my fantasy rosters.

Eli appears to be turning the corner in this offense, and you should pick him up if he is available. You’ll have to do it quick, because the next game is Thursday night. I’m sure Cruz and Jennings are already on rosters in most leagues. Donnell, too. A lot of FF owners jumped on him after the first two weeks. Still not sold on Randle or Williams…yet. PK Josh Brown is also worth a look down the road. He just kicked his first FG of the season Sunday, but the Giants could become an offense that creates opportunities for him going forward.


NFL GameDay: Houston at Giants 1pm

The Giants (0-2) try to break an 0-7 September losing streak today when they host All-Pro DE J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans (2-0).

Site: Metlife Stadium
Kickoff: 1:00pm EDT
Surface: Field Turf
TV: CBS (Ch. 2 in NYC): Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Jenny Dell (Field reporter)
Radio: WFAN 660AM and 101.9FM Bob Papa, Carl Banks and Howard Cross SIRIUS: 108 (Hou), 133 (NYG) XM: 227 (NYG)
Referee: Terry McAulay
The Line: Texans by 2 1/2; O/U 41 1/2

Series: This is only the fourth meeting between the Giants and the Texans, who entered the NFL in 2002. The Giants lead the series, 2-1, and have won the past two meetings.

Last Game: 10/10/10: Giants 34 at Texans 10. New York WR Hakeem Nicks has 12 receptions for 130 yards & 2 TDs. Giants WR Steve Smith adds 89 receiving yards & TD reception.
Last Game at Site: 11/5/06: Giants 14, Texans 10. New York RB Tiki Barber rushes for 115 yards & TD on 17 attempts. Giants TE Jeremy Shockey has 8 catches for 66 yards and TD.


Texans: OUT: LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), S Shiloh Keo (calf) QUESTIONABLE: RB Arian Foster (hamstring), G Ben Jones (ankle, knee), S D.J. Swearinger (elbow) PROBABLE: LB Akeem Dent (hamstring), TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (foot), TE Garrett Graham (ankle), WR DeAndre Hopkins (illness), DE Tim Jamison (groin), WR Andre Johnson (ankle), CB Johnathan Joseph (foot), DT Louis Nix (wrist), RB Jay Prosch (hand)

Giants: OUT: LB Jon Beason (foot, toe), WR Odell Beckham (hamstring), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE: T James Brewer (back), T Charles Brown (shoulder), P Steve Weatherford (left ankle) PROBABLE: DT Markus Kuhn (ankle)

To read more of this story, click here

Giants-Texans: 3 keys for a Giant win

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Here are three keys for the Giants today if they are going to get of the schneid vs Houston today.

Stop the run. The Texans are averaging 151.5 yards per game on the ground. The Giants will have Markus Kuhn back and the Texans may be without their feature RB, Arian Foster. Don’t let the backups beat you.

Hang on to the damn ball. Victor Cruz and crew need to catch the football today and the Giants need to win a turnover battle sometime. Why not today?

Block. The Giants might use Rashad Jennings as a chipper to stop the Texans’ rush, led by J.J. Watt. Good idea. The Giants can be a dangerous team if the offensive line could just execute.

GEICO SportsNite: Eli Manning talks about how the offense needs to come together to score more points and Jason Pierre-Paul on working together as a team.

Sunday Morning Notes: Mariano Rivera to be honored at halftime

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Both the Giants and the Texans will play today’s game without their celebrated first-round draft picks. Houston DE Jadeveon Clowney, taken first overall in April’s NFL Draft, is out with a knee injury, while the Giants will again be without the services of WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (hamstring), who was taken with the 12th overall selection.

The National Football League and its teams will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) with a series of special events. The Giants have selected legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera as the recipient of the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award.

The Giants will honor Rivera this afternoon when they face the Houston Texans. The award will be presented to his family at halftime. Rivera has chosen the Mariano Rivera Foundation to receive this donation.

Head coach Tom Coughlin is tied for 14th all-time in total victories (170) with Paul Brown. Wit a win today, Tom will move into a tie for 13th place with former Washington coach Joe Gibbs. Brown and Gibbs are both hall of famers.

QB Eli Manning is six touchdown passes away from surpassing Hall of Famer Jim Kelly for 20th place (120 TDs) on the all-time passing TD lis and 63 completions away from passing Matt Hasselbeck for 16th place on the NFL’s all-time career pass completions list.

With two receptions today, WR Victor Cruz will surpass 250 for his career.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka is 10.5 sacks away from surpassing George Martin for seventh place on the Giants’ all-time sack list and DE Jason Pierre-Paul is five sacks away from moving into a 3-way tie with Carl Banks & Mathias Kiwanuka for 8th place on the list.

CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie needs one INT to reach 20 for his career and S Stevie Brown is just two away from 10 INTs.

It ain’t over by a longshot, Giant fans….History shows that 0-2 teams advance to the playoffs more often than people might think. Since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990, 23 teams started 0-2 and still qualified for the postseason.

Last season, the Carolina Panthers started the season 0-2 and went on to win the NFC South after finishing 12-4, becoming the first team since the 2003 Philadelphia Eagles to earn a first-round bye after an 0-2 start.

The 1993 Dallas Cowboys started 0-2 before winning Super Bowl XXVIII. The 0-2 New England Patriots of 1996 played in Super Bowl XXXI, and in 2001, the 0-2 Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI.

The 2007 Giants started 0-2 and went on to win Super Bowl XLII.