THE GOOD PLACE
The Giants know how desperate Washington will be for Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium, coming in with an 0-2 record. It’s the same disappointing start the Giants themselves have had for each of the past three seasons, so there is familiarity with the circumstance. Ben McAdoo, in a radio interview this week, referred to Washington as “wounded animals.” They expect a hungry opponent.
“Definitely,” Eli Manning said. “I expect a hungry New York Giants team as well.”
“I don’t care how hungry anybody is, so are we,” running back Rashad Jennings added. “We throw the records out the door every single time we get on the field Sundays. Especially when you’re in the division.”
Maybe the Giants’ hunger stems from the scars of the past few disappointing years, when they were eliminated from playoff contention early and as recently as 2013 had to wait until late October for their first win of the season. More likely, though, they have what for many is a first taste of early success. And they like it.
“Right now, we are at a good place,” Jennings said. “We’re at a place where we have a lot more to improve and we can say we’re doing that with a 2-0 record.”
And because they’re been here with an inverse record, teetering on the edge of irrelevance, they know that they could be the ones to push Washington into that hole.
“To be 0-3?” asked Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “If we go 3-0 with two division wins, then you will definitely put them behind the eight ball. So it is definitely a game we must win.”
Must win in Week 3. We’ve heard that from the Giants plenty before, just for different reasons.
While the Giants’ defense has improved in virtually every area, the one statistic they have actually receded on from last year is takeaways. They have yet to force a turnover, something that didn’t happen during any two-game stretch of the otherwise pitiful 2015 campaign.
“In order for us to continue to be a really good defense, and get to that level, we have to be able to take the ball away,” defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. “That’s one that we need to have start showing up in these games.”
Enter Kirk Cousins, who has already thrown three interceptions this season and in four career games against the Giants has thrown eight of them. They key to that, veterans of those games say, has been taking away Washington’s running game.
“Making him one-dimensional,” Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “(They are) a team that wants to come in and run the ball and anytime you can sit back and let your front four go and cover and play coverage behind it, it is always a plus.”
The Giants also believe Cousins can be a bit predictable.
“Knowing down and distance and where he likes to throw the ball, that’s the biggest concern with him,” safety Landon Collins said.
The only game against the Giants that Cousins did not throw a pick was the last one. It’s also the only time he’s beaten the Giants.
“With the guys we have on this defensive unit, the guys getting after the ball, you have guys covering in the back and playing the ball, it’s bound to happen,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of registering a takeaway. “It’s going to happen when it happens.”
Sunday would be a good time for that.
EVERY POINT MATTERS
The Giants haven’t been this clutch in almost 80 years.
They beat the Cowboys by one point and the Saints by three to start this season, marking the first time since October 1939 that they have won consecutive games by a combined margin of four or fewer points. That’s quite a turnaround for a team that lost seven games a year ago by 6 or fewer points, four games by a field goal or less, and two by a single point.
“You have to win the close games,” Eli Manning said. “That’s what playoff teams do. It’s about not getting frustrated when things aren’t going your way at first.”
Those wins in 1939? They beat the Bears, 16-13, on Oct. 22, then the Brooklyn Dodgers, 7-6, on Oct. 29. And they eventually made it to the NFL Championship Game that season, too. Apparently Manning is right: That IS what playoff teams do.
WANTED: MORE TDs
For all the high-powered potential and appearance of unstoppability that the Giants offense has, they’ve not exactly been lighting up the scoreboard so far in 2016. The Giants came into Week 3 in the top half of the league in critical categories, ranked 14th in yards per game (366.5) and 15th in yards per play (5.7). But they were 26th in points per game (18.0). Their three offensive touchdowns were tied for the fourth fewest in the NFL; only the Vikings (2), Seahawks (1) and Rams (0) had fewer in the first two games.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan pointed to three key reasons for the lack of offensive touchdowns in the win over the Saints: Too many fumbles (3), too many dropped passes (at least 4, depending on how you measure drops vs. contested passes), and too many runs of zero yards or less (6).
“We believe and certainly hope that it’s an aberration,” Sullivan said.
That may be the case. The Giants actually had more offensive yards (417) against the Saints without an offensive TD than they had in last year’s game against them (416) when they scored six on the way to 49 points.
“We were close,” Manning said. “We just have to score more touchdowns, protect the ball and finish some drives.”
Eli Manning is one win away from the 100th of his regular-season career. Twelve others have reached 100 victories but only five quarterbacks have won 100 regular-season games and two Super Bowls with the same team in their career: Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, John Elway, Joe Montana and Ben Roethlisberger.
SPECIAL HONOR FOR JENKINS
Janoris Jenkins was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a blocked field goal attempt 65 yards for a touchdown against the Saints. It was the 26th time a Giants player has received that honor, but he is only the fifth regular defensive player and just the first defensive back in Giants history to win the award. “I’m just coming in and doing my job to compete whether it’s on special teams or whatever,” Jenkins said. “I don’t get too carried away about what they brought me here for. I know what I’m here for and I’m going to try to do it to the best of my ability.” The field goal attempt was blocked by Johnathan Hankins, who is also a defensive starter at tackle.
Number of all-time wins for the Giants. A win today will make them just the third team in NFL history to reach 700 behind the Bears (758-575-42) and the Packers (753-569-37). The Giants’ all-time record is 699-591-33.