Giants report card: Welcome back, Saquon Barkley

Grading the Giants’ 21-20 win over the Titans on Sunday:

Insulted

Welcome back, Saquon Barkley (18-164, 1 TD). This was the dynamic player the Giants selected in 2018. He averaged 9.1 yards per carry, ripped off a 68-yard run, caught the shovel pass on the game-winning two-point conversion and probably did the laundry after the game. Daniel Jones (17 of 21, 188 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) was accurate but not always productive and he did pick up a key first down with his legs. Bad interception in the fourth quarter. He was sacked five times and held onto the ball too long on a few of them. Welcome back, Sterling Shepard on his 65-yard TD reception. Strange wide receiver rotation had Richie James (5-59) as the leading target, as Kadarius Toney did not have a catch or a target. Rookie LG Josh Ezeudu was beaten off the line by Jeffery Simmons for a strip-sack of Jones in the second quarter. Going 2-for-10 on third down is not going to lead to good things most days.

Grade: vs.

Saquon Barkley (26) celebrates during the Giants’ win over the Titans on Sunday.
PA

Defense

When going against the Titans the key is always dealing with and trying to contain RB Derrick Henry. Mission accomplished. Henry (21-82) did not wreck the game and his longest run was only 18 yards. There were issues with the inside linebackers covering running back Dontrell Hilliard (two TDs) as LB Austin Calitro was no match for him on a first-quarter scoring play. Slot corner Darnay Holmes was hit with a holding penalty on third down that kept a Titans drive alive. There were holding penalties on Calitro and Holmes on the final drive that ended with a missed field goal. There was also almost no heat on Ryan Tannehill (20 of 33, 266 yards), who was sacked only one time. This unit kept the Giants in the game when the offense was sagging in the first half.

Grade: B+.

Special teams

Bad snap by team captain Casey Kreiter led to a botched extra point that never was attempted in the third quarter. Jamie Gillan’s first punt for the Giants was a 50-yarder with not enough hang time right down the middle of the field. The resulting 46-yard return by Kyle Phillips was ugly, too. Nick McCloud had a good stop on punt coverage on a kick Gillan angled. James, showing some burst, had a 17-yard punt return in the first quarter and an 18-yarder in the third quarter. Gillan late in the third quarter booted a 69-yarder. There was good pressure applied on the last-second field goal that might have affected Randy Bullock on his 47-yard miss.

Grade: vs.

Coaching

Going for two late in the game is a call players and fans love — but if it does not work there is all sorts of second-guessing about not securing the tie game. Brian Daboll said he was going to be aggressive, and boy was he with 1:06 remaining. Gusty call. Getting points in the final minute of the first half was a long shot, but why didn’t Daboll call a timeout after Barkley picked up 13 yards on a first-down run? Daboll won the first replay challenge of his career, saving yards when he correctly surmised that a Titans receiver was down by contact in the fourth quarter. Great design on two-point conversion shovel pass by play-caller Mike Kafka. Wink Martindale was down his top two pass rushers and could not bring the heat the way he usually does.

Grade: HAS.

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