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Rookie tight end Evan Engram only Giants receiver to make plays

Evan Engram of the Giants catches a second-quarter

Evan Engram of the Giants catches a second-quarter touchdown against the Seahawks at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 22, 2017. Credit: Mike Stobe

Eli Manning hit Evan Engram on the crossing pattern, Engram hit a defender with a stiff arm, and the rookie tight end was off and running. He raced down the right side for a 25-yard gain to the Seattle 43.

This Giants’ drive in the second half wound up like all but one of the times they had the ball Sunday at MetLife Stadium. It was a drive for nothing. Aldrick Rosas missed a field goal.

In the end, Engram was the only one who stood out on offense in a Big Blue uniform. The first-round pick out of Ole Miss was the lone viable playmaker running patterns. The Giants’ cast of wide receivers was mostly wiped out by injuries two weeks prior against the Chargers. So Manning has played the last two games with basically unproven options among that crew.

Engram accounted for the lone touchdown against the Seahawks on a 5-yard, second-quarter pass. The Giants fell, 24-7, which meant they fell to 1-6 heading into the bye week.

“You definitely don’t aim for this at the beginning of the season,” Engram said. “It’s tough. Our backs are against the wall. We’ve got to stick together and keep fighting.”

Manning targeted Engram 12 times. They connected on six of them, good for 60 yards.

“I think Evan’s done a good job making some plays,” Manning said. “He had a couple of nice plays today where he was able to get open underneath and run after the catch. So we’ve got to keep finding ways to get him the ball.”

When Manning got him the ball on the first play after Seattle had taken a 10-7 lead in the third quarter, Engram tried to take it down the left sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. Shaquill Griffin ran him down at the 1. But a flag had flown. The ball was spotted back where the play started and the Giants lost a down.

Engram had been called for an illegal touch, having gone out of bounds before the reception.

“I was pushed out,” Engram said. “I guess that’s the rule. I think it should be a rule that if you get pushed out, you can come back and touch the ball. But that’s not it. That was a big play. It kind of hurt bringing it back.”

The losses of wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Dwayne Harris have hurt.

“It’s next man up mentality,” Engram said. “Of course, those guys are missed, their big-play capability definitely. They’re some of the best in the game. But we’ve got to step up. We’ve got to make plays, too.”

Only Shepard will return this season, possibly after the bye week.

“Talking to him, he’s ready to get back,” Engram said.

The 6-3, 240-pound Engram lines up as a receiver sometimes, too. He leads the Giants with 30 catches and 342 yards, and he has three touchdowns.

“With the playmakers that we lost, with Odell, Brandon, Shep, Dwayne, all those guys, somebody’s got to step up,” running back Orleans Darkwa said. “It was good to see him stepping up and making plays out there. He’s a first-round draft pick for a reason. He’s talented. I think we’ve all got to step our game up and get on his level.”

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