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Giants Q&A: Jabrill Peppers gets a little payback against Eagles; Daniel Jones gives thoughts on run

Jabrill Peppers, on top, and Trent Harris, underneath,

Jabrill Peppers, on top, and Trent Harris, underneath, sack the Eagles' Carson Wentz early in the fourth quarter. Wentz fumbled at the Philly 10-yard line but recovered at the 13. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jabrill Peppers allowed the winning touchdown on a pass to Boston Scott three weeks ago. Was he thinking about that play when he sealed Sunday’s win with an open-field tackle of Scott on fourth down with 2:01 remaining?

Yes and no. Peppers said he wasn’t dwelling on that older matchup when he was in the middle of the new one.

"I was just thinking about making an open-field tackle and getting off the field," he said. "I wasn’t really thinking about it like, ‘Oh, I gave up this. Let me get this back.’ "

That said, the safety did note that he came into the game looking for revenge. "That was my mindset,’’ he said. "I have to make impact plays just to wash the bad taste out of my mouth."

Was he able to do that?

The win helped, but Peppers admitted that Scott probably still has bragging rights: "When you break it down, he had a highlight touchdown on me to win the game."

How good was the Giants’ defense?

It was the first game in a decade in which they did not allow an opponent to convert a single third-down play. The Eagles were 0-for-9 in the game (and 1-for-3 on fourth downs). The last team the Giants shut out on third down was the Cowboys, who were 0-for-10 in 2010.

For a defense that struggled on third downs earlier this season — "We couldn’t get off the field; it was embarrassing," safety Logan Ryan said last week of the early struggles —the ability to end drives is a critical step.

What has allowed them to do that?

Peppers said it is the defensive play-calling. "The first game [against them], we were kind of vanilla when they went tempo, you know, cover-three, cover-two, cover-three and cover-two," he said. "This game, we had a lot more multiples. That's a testament to the coaching staff and putting us in places to excel and giving them looks on the fly while they're going tempo. They think they're getting this and we're actually doing this. I think that gave them trouble."

It did. Carson Wentz said: "That’s a good defense over there. They made it hard on us."

Joe Judge said the defensive improvements aren’t based on the playbook.

"To me, it’s when the fundamentals marry up with the scheme on the field," he said. "The fundamentals are 10 times more important than the scheme. I see these guys go ahead and understand a big-picture concept and move forward with that. I see the players improving across the board. Pat [Graham, the defensive coordinator] has really evolved in what he’s calling based on what we have to do within the game and who is available."

What was Daniel Jones thinking about when he scored on a 34-yard run to cap the opening drive?

"I just tried to stay on my feet that time," he said after failing to complete a potential 88-yard touchdown run in the last game against the Eagles. On that one, he face-planted on the turf, untouched by an opponent, and had to settle for an 80-yarder.

"It felt good to get in the end zone," he said of his first rushing score since he had two in his first start against the Bucs in September 2019.

This 34-yarder was the longest touchdown run by a Giants quarterback since Jeff Hostetler scored on a 47-yard run in 1991.

It was the fourth-longest touchdown run by a quarterback in the NFL this season, behind two from Lamar Jackson (50, 37) and Sam Darnold (46).

How did the offensive line rotation work with Will Hernandez back?

It didn’t — at least not until it had to. Rookie Shane Lemieux started at left guard and played there almost the entire game until right guard Kevin Zeitler left with a concussion in the fourth quarter. It was only then that Hernandez came in and returned to left guard, with Lemieux shifted to the right side. Joe Judge had promised a rotation at guard similar to the one he has used with his tackles upon Hernandez’s return, but that clearly was not the plan.

How money is Graham Gano?

So much so that after he kicked two field goals to extend his consecutive streak to 20, tying the second-longest in franchise history, the Giants announced that they had extended him!

Gano, who had a one-year deal at the start of the season, signed a contract that will keep him with the team through the 2023 season. He has not missed a field-goal attempt since a 57-yard try was wide left in Chicago in Week 2.

Was Golden Tate a factor in his return?

He had a catch for 38 yards that set up a key third-quarter touchdown, but aside from that, it was mostly a quiet game for him . . . just as it had been before he was benched last week for griping about his lack of opportunities. Tate was targeted five times, third most on the team, and caught two for 44 yards.

How close was Peppers to returning a fourth-quarter punt for a touchdown?

Close enough that he chewed out Cam Brown on the field after he ran into the rookie linebacker and was prevented from scoring. The return to the Eagles’ 41 did set up the field goal that put the Giants ahead 24-17, and Peppers laughed off his outburst afterward.

"It was just heat of the moment," he said. "I'm a fierce competitor. We all love each other here and we know each other personally. I can come at certain guys a certain way because I know that'll motivate them and get them going. I was just more upset because I felt like that could have been a touchdown. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong, but I felt like maybe if I squeeze through that next level right there, I'm on the punter. I like my matchup against the punter 10 out of 10 times."

Anything Judge didn’t like about this win?

There are always things to improve upon, but two things clearly bothered him.

One was that during his postgame Zoom call, there was a ruckus nearby as audio from other postgame interviews bled into his space. He stopped in the middle of an answer about team fundamentals to yell "Whoever’s got that, turn that off! Just turn that off!" Then he apologized for the interruption and returned to his line of thought.

The other issue he had was that it never rained during the game. The Giants practiced in the rain twice during the week in preparation for bad weather, which did not arrive in the region until after the game concluded.

"The players were probably looking at me like, ‘C’mon, man,' " Judge said of the decision to practice in the rain, "but we’re going to be outside, regardless."

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