Giants head coach Brian Daboll looks on from the sideline against...

Giants head coach Brian Daboll looks on from the sideline against the Texans at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Mike Stobe


After a week in which they could not reach a long-term deal with Saquon Barkley, they drove him like a rental car, giving him 35 hard-fought carries that he turned into 152 yards and a touchdown. Daniel Jones threw four incompletions (13-for-17) and only one of them did not hit the target in the hands. That and his two touchdown passes gave him a career-high and nearly perfect passer rating of 153.3 (his previous high was 132.1 against Washington in his rookie year). It was the highest rating for a QB in the NFL this season. Darius Slayton and Lawrence Cager caught the TD passes. Though they eventually scored 24 points, they should have put the game out of reach much sooner than they did.


Two takeaways (and almost a third that was overturned on review) in the red zone in the second half kept the Texans from a comeback. Houston was 1-for-6 in the red zone in the game. The defensive front of Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams combined for 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The secondary didn’t miss much without Xavier McKinney; Julian Love called the plays on the field and rookie Dane Belton had his first NFL interception with McKinney on the sideline in a cast. Safety Jason Pinnock played the most defense he has since he arrived off waivers from the Jets at the start of the season and had 1.5 sacks. Houston converted just 3 of 10 third downs. It would have been a stellar performance all around if not for several big plays allowed; the Texans had five plays of 25 net yards or longer (that includes penalty yardage tacked on), including a 46-yard pass and a 44-yard run that let them finish the game with more yards than the Giants (387-367)


Adoree’ Jackson’s first game as a punt returner for the Giants was uneventful (no muffs!) and his best special-teams play was when he recovered an onside kick with :06 left and celebrated with a backflip. It was the second onside kick recovered by the Giants; practice squad TE Lawrence Cager had the other earlier in the fourth. Punter Jamie Gillan put a punt from the Houston 41 into the end zone for a bad touchback and then later overcompensated with a 14-yard punt that was downed at the 26. Graham Gano kicked a key 49-yard field goal with 1:55 left to make it a two-score game.


The offensive game plan didn’t shy away from using all eight offensive linemen but got a little too cute with it in the first quarter when all the motioning of them led to a false start on fourth-and-1 and then that bad punt for a touchback in an instance when they could have just pushed straight ahead (or attempted a 54-yard field goal). The Giants got in Barkley’s head about staying inbounds too much to the point that he slid to keep the clock running late in the fourth but didn’t pick up the first down. Brian Daboll used a timeout on a fourth-quarter kickoff to make sure he got his hands team on to recover an onside kick. Good job pulling the plug on Kenny Golladay after his drop.

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