Giants takeaways from Sunday’s 20-20 tie with Commanders, including a quiet day for the offense

Dec 4, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll looks on during the first half against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants erased a 10-point first quarter deficit but couldn’t do enough to secure a win, tying the Washington Commanders 20-20 on Sunday afternoon.

Here are some key takeaways…

-The Giants offense got off to a poor start, with Daniel Jones fumbling on the third play from scrimmage. Jones has had fumbling problems in the past, and they crept in again early in this one, giving Washington some early momentum. The Commanders took advantage of the field position and drove deep into New York territory, but the defense locked in and forced a short 21-yard field goal from Joey Slye, which gave the Commanders a 3-0 lead early on.

– The Commanders feature one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, and they made their presence felt early on Sunday, as a Daron Payne sack derailed the Giants’ second drive of the day. Washington then went on eight-play, 62 yard drive, led by a steady rushing attack and capped off with a Taylor Heinicke 19-yard touchdown to Terry McLaurin, who broke a tackle en route to putting Washington up by 10.

– A Graham Gano 48-yard field goal to start the second quarter put the Giants on the board for the first time, with a 21-yard scramble from Jones accounting for nearly half the yardage on the drive. Even with those three points, the Giants offense stumbled out of the gates, putting up 57 total yards on their first three drives, 45 of which came on drive No. 3.

-They finally hit the big play on their fourth drive though, as Jones fired one deep for Darius Slayton, who made a tremendous catch for a gain of 49 yards into Washington territory. Jones converted a key third-and-seven with his legs later in the drive, and Saquon Barkley dashed up the middle for a 13-yard touchdown on the next play, knotting the game at 10-10 with 8:49 to go in the second.

– The Giants came into the game shorthanded at corner without Adoree’ Jackson and Darnay Holmes, putting extra pressure on the team’s healthy corners. Fabian Moreau, tasked with covering McLaurin on a third-down play, committed a costly holding penalty to extend a Washington drive in the second quarter. Moreau came up with a big play later on a third-down stop (officials picked up a flag for possible pass interference), but a Slye field goal put Washington back up, 13-10.

– Jones and company orchestrated a nice two-minute drill to end the half, driving 66 yards over 13 plays to add a short Gano field goal, tying the game at 13-all heading into halftime. Jones was 10-out-of-11 for 97 in the half, with his only incompletion coming on spike to stop the clock.

– Welcome back, Azeez Ojulari! The second-year edge rusher forced a Heinicke strip sack on Washington’s first possession of the second half, setting the Giants up deep in Commanders’ territory. The Giants turned that into seven points and the lead thanks to Isaiah Hodgins‘ first career touchdown. Without Kenny Golladay on the field, Hodgins has stepped up nicely to give Jones another option.

– The third quarter really belonged to the Giants’ defense. Along with getting that recovered fumble early in the quarter, Big Blue held Washington to just 69 yards in the quarter, 53 of which came on a drive that still ended up in a punt.

– Even without Leonard Williams off the field (he left with a neck injury but was still on the sidelines), the defensive front continued to dominate, with Dexter Lawrence coming up with a huge third-down sack. Lawrence’s big play pushed Washington back for a 52-yard field goal attempt, but Slye pushed it wide right, preserving New York’s 20-13 lead with 10 minutes to go.

– With the Giants trying to salt the clock and make it a two-score game, a Jon Feliciano taunting penalty ended up really hurting the Giants, as Jones ended up getting sacked on a third-and-seven play later in the drive, which forced the Giants to punt with 3:43 on the clock.

Then, with the game seemingly on the line, the Giants got great pressure on Heinicke on a fourth-and-four play, but he was able to float one down the field and find Curtis Samuel for a 20-yard gain.

Another 25-yard pick from Samuel, the longest play of the day for Washington at that point, set them up deep in Big Blue territory. Rookie Jahan Dotson then made a tremendous catch-and-run effort, spinning away from a tackle attempt to scamper for a 28-yard touchdown, tying the game with 1:45 to go.

– The Giants went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, as Slayton got wide open down the field and Jones put the ball on his hands, but the receiver lost control when trying to bring the ball into his body while going to the ground. What would have been a huge play fell harmlessly incomplete.

Washington also couldn’t muster anything on their next drive, sending the game to overtime.

– The Giants won the OT coin toss and got the ball first, but they held the ball for just four plays before needing to punt after Jones was sacked on third down. A 21-yard dash by Samuel set the Commanders up in Giants’ territory, but Wink Martindale’s crew held strong and forced a Washington punt from the 43-yard line.

Jones then led a methodical drive to push the Giants into Washington territory, with Hodgins totaling 22 yards on back-to-back plays. But on a third-and-two play, there was confusion in the backfield between Jones, Barkley and Richie James, leading to Jones having to save a broken play by diving back to the line. With the Giants at the 45-yard line, they attempted to get Washington to jump offsides to no avail, leading to another punt with 1:36 left.

– With Washington pinned in the shadow of their own goal post, Kayvon Thibodeaux screamed off the edge and sacked Heinicke just two yards away from what would have been a game-winning safety. The Commanders were forced to punt, but the clock drained all the way down to 28 seconds left, with the Giants at their own 43-yard line. On first down, Jones found James for 12 yards over the middle into Washington territory. A couple of plays later, with 15 seconds left, Jones hit Daniel Bellinger for a gain of five.

With 10 seconds left, Jones had to throw it away, setting up a Gano 58-yard attempt for the win. His kick was on line, but fell to the turf well short as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

– This is the first Giants tie since Nov. 23, 1997, when they also tied Washington.

Jones went 25-of-31 for just 200 yards and a touchdown. Barkley had 18 carries for just 63 yards and touchdown.


What’s next

The Giants remains at home as they welcome the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles to MetLife Stadium for a critical divisional matchup next Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

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