There was a time in the preseason when the Giants’ offense thought of itself as unstoppable. So many talented players, so many ways to score points. How, the players wondered aloud, could an opposing defense possibly stop them all?
And yet here we are, 11 games into the season, and the Giants have yet to score 30 points in a game. There has been no breakout, no blowout, no game in which it has all looked easy. Thirty points doesn’t sound like a lot to ask for, and yet the Giants haven’t reached that modest barometer.
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“It’s disappointing,” running back Rashad Jennings told Newsday. “Disappointing because we’re capable of it. We’re just grinding our teeth waiting for that game — Bam! — this is how it’s supposed to look, this is our new standard, let’s not look back. We need that game during this stretch.”
Or do they?
While it certainly would be comforting to have one or two of those high-octane performances, the Giants seem to be doing just fine without it. They’ve won six in a row, have the second-best record in the NFC at 8-3 and are on track for their first playoff berth since 2011.
Most of it, though, has been accomplished not by the offense but by the defense. That’s something that Jennings readily acknowledged.
“Our defense has been doing a heck of a job bailing us out,” he said. “That’s what I feel, I really do. The offensive side of the ball, we need to lead a little bit more for the team.”
Being a low-scoring, grind-it-out team is a surprising identity for the Giants, who were sixth in the NFL in scoring a year ago with 26.25 points per game and seven games with at least 30 points. Going into the weekend, however, five other teams have yet to reach 30 points this season. Yes, three of them are last-place teams with three combined wins: the Bears, Browns and 49ers. But the two others — the Vikings and the Texans — are in playoff contention. And the Giants certainly have been able to survive it.
“We did expect our offense to score a little bit more, but at the same time, we have a defense that is doing phenomenally,” safety Landon Collins said. “We expect a lot from our offense, but whatever they give us, we make do with. That’s what a defense does. If they put up 10 points and we need to hold the other team to seven, that’s what we need to do.”
There’s no doubt that the Giants would like to join the 30-somethings at some point in the next five games. It’s on their minds, as coach Ben McAdoo said it was discussed this week.
“We need to continue to put more points on the board,” McAdoo said. “We need to get in scoring range more often. We seem like we’re one scoring attempt away each week, whether it’s a touchdown or a field goal. If you get in scoring position five times, you get three touchdowns or four touchdowns out of it and some field goals, it gives you an opportunity to hit 30 points or at least 27, which is the benchmark.”
There’s also a sense that such an explosion is just around the corner.
“I think we can definitely put some things together this week to create that high-powered offense,” Victor Cruz said. “We have a good game plan so far to get everyone involved. Our goal is to score as many points as possible, and we’ll go from there.”
The Giants aren’t the only ones waiting for it to come and surprised that it hasn’t. According to ESPN, the Giants have been under the Las Vegas over/under in eight of their 11 games. It’s too tempting for everyone to look at Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard and not see points being scored at a furious rate.
They’re not, though.
“As long as we win games, I don’t care about anything else,” Cruz said. “As long as we finish with more points than the other team, that’s the only thing that matters. Do we want to score more points and be that balanced offense like we know we can be? Absolutely. But as long as we have more points than the other team when the clock hits zero, we’ll take it.”
That kind of talk has been going on since early in the season. It’s to the point that this may be who the Giants are. If that’s the case, can they get to where they want to be?
“Yeah, of course,” Collins said. “Even if our offense doesn’t put up the points we want them to put up, as a defense, we can make it hold up.”
“Because of our defense and special teams play, we have a chance for that,” Jennings said of being a championship contender without ever topping 30 points in a game.
“That’s not who we want to be. We do not.
“But yeah, we can.”