Grading the Giants’ 31-28 win against the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon.
It was like someone slipped the Giants an answer key at halftime. Average out the failure of the first half – 81 yards, a giveaway and no points – with the acing of the second half, where they scored 31 points, including touchdowns on four straight drives.
Daniel Jones threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns. Saquon Barkley totaled 92 yards from scrimmage and scored touchdowns on the ground and through the air, with a full-extension stretch across the goal line. Jalin Hyatt started the second half with a 58-yard reception that flipped the game on its head. And the offensive line held up (three sacks allowed) without All-Pro left tackle Andrew Thomas and with a first-time left tackle (Josh Ezeudu) and a first-time starter (right guard Marcus McKethan).
Brian Daboll denied that he took on a bigger role in play-calling in the second half.
Jalin Hyatt was a spark plug for the Giants in the second half. Getty Images
When needed, the defense forced three straight punts to feed into the touchdowns that let the Giants get to within 28-21, tie the score at 28-28 and score the winning points. What’s more is that the last two stops were three-and-outs, which conserved time for the comeback. And the Giants got a stop in the final 19 seconds, too.
None of that was foreseen after the Giants allowed scores on five straight possessions – three touchdowns and two field goals. It would have been six straight but the Cardinals opened the game with an overthrown would-be touchdown leading into a missed 55-yard field goal.
Jason Pinnock had 13 tackles, including three for loss. The Giants didn’t have a sack or a takeaway and missed too many tackles.
Graham Gano converted all four PATs and the game-winning 34-yard field goal, after going 0-for-2 last week. He bailed the Giants out with a PAT after their intent to go for a two-point conversion, down 28-20, was ruined by Parris Campbell’s false start penalty.
Rookie Eric Gray, who has looked shaky catching punts in practice, had a 14-yard return late in the game. Most importantly, he secured the ball.
Cardinals returner Greg Dortch’s only notable return was negated by a penalty.
A relatively low-impact game after a disastrous Week 1.
Giants coach Brian DabollUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con
After all the talk of putting last week’s stinkbomb in the past, the Giants came out flat. The 20-0 halftime deficit against arguably the league’s least-talented roster was unacceptable. That has to be figured into the big picture.
The defense looked surprised by quarterback Joshua Dobbs’ mobility. The offense’s decision not to give a carry to Saquon Barkley on two of the first three drives — both ending in three-and-outs — was maddening, especially with nose tackle Leki Fotu sidelined.
Credit for the offensive line tweaks that allowed the group to stabilize despite inexperience, the second-half adjustments and the aggressive play-calling that lit a spark. Most of all, credit for keeping players engaged in believing that a comeback was possible and allowing a few to speak their minds at halftime.