EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants finally played a game that reminded people of the team that went to the playoffs a year ago, ending a five-year postseason drought.
In beating the Washington Commanders 14-7 on Sunday, the Giants did just enough to win.
They got 14 points from their offense and a great defensive effort in snapping a four-game losing streak.
There were a lot of smiles and happy faces in the locker room and probably among the fans who had reason to stick around until the end of the game for the first time in three home games.
While it was good news for the team, it's still nothing to get too excited about. The Giants are 2-5 with 10 games left in the regular season. They face another challenge in Week 8 when they take on the Jets (3-3), the franchise that shares MetLife Stadium with them.
“Just like every game, we don’t want to get too high or too low, after a win or after a loss, or leading up to a game,” Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams said.
“We never like to try to get too high or too low. As far as players and coaches, I think we try to treat it as a regular game and prepare the same way.”
The Giants can't afford many more losses. They have five and the remainder of the schedule includes two games with Philadelphia (6-1) and one at Dallas (4-2).
The other teams on the schedule are as inconsistent as the Giants.
That's the hope for coach Brian Daboll's team. Pull a surprise or two against their NFC East rivals and win as many of the other games as possible. It's a road to the playoffs, but it will be difficult to traverse.
The defense pitched its second straight first-half shutout, the first time New York has done that since 2005. Washington's only score was set up by a fumbled punt return that was recovered at the Giants 21-yard line.
The best part of the defense was the pressure it put on quarterback Sam Howell — six sacks and 12 hits — and the run defense, which allowed 76 yards.
Dexter Lawrence led the way with two sacks and four quarterback hits.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The offense ended its scoring drought at almost 221 minutes when Tyrod Taylor threw a touchdown pass to Darren Waller 42 seconds into the second quarter. Taylor added a 32-yard catch-and-run to Saquon Barkley later in the quarter.
That was it. The Giants scored 14 points, about three above their average. It's just not good enough. The unit also left points on the field as Graham Gano missed a 42-yard field goal and Barkley lost a fumble inside the 10-yard line in the fourth quarter that could have put the game out of reach with New York ahead 14-7 and 7:46 to play.
Taylor: The veteran quarterback had another good day filling in with Daniel Jones sidelined for the second straight week with a neck injury. The 34-year-old was 18 of 29 for 279 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. He also ran eight times for 25 yards.
“I would just say Tyrod had a good game this game and he’s a true pro and I’m glad we’ve got him,” Daboll said.
The punt returners. Rookie Eric Gray fumbled a punt that Nick McCloud recovered in the first quarter.
Sterling Shepard took over after Gray (calf) was hurt and had a fair catch, a 5-yard return and the fumble that helped give the Commanders their touchdown. Darius Slayton was next up. He let one punt go over his head into the end zone and fair caught the last one, drawing a sarcastic cheer from the fans. Daboll said the team would have tryouts this week, and it's probable a punt returner will audition.
Jones' status is uncertain. Daboll said he will know more Wednesday. The offensive line played without tackles Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal, Matt Peart, Josh Ezeudu and center John Michael Schmitz. Cornerback Adoree Jackson (neck) also missed the game and Gray (calf) and Brightwell (hamstring) were injured on special teams. Barkley said he hyperextended an elbow but he said it was not serious.
17, 44, 291 — The number of quarters, possessions and plays between the touchdown pass Jones threw to Isaiah Hodgins against Arizona on Sept. 17 and the one Taylor threw to Waller against Washington on Sunday.
The only thing that matches an NFC East rivalry game is a meeting for the bragging rights of MetLife Stadium: Jets-Giants on Sunday.
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