EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A winning streak. The New York Giants finally have one.
It has been a while. An infuriating 700 days to be exact. It was December 2016 the last time the Giants strung together wins against the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.
They have one now after winning two games in a span of six days against the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants beat the Bucs 38-35 on Sunday afternoon for their first home victory of the season and first winning streak in years.
Who cares if those teams are a combined 5-15 this season?
Finally, some reason for optimism in a seemingly lost Giants (3-7) season.
Rookie running back Saquon Barkley had a rushing and receiving touchdown in the first half. He’s the first Giants rookie running back since Butch Woolfork in 1982 to accomplish the feat. Barkley has been every bit as advertised this season and was again on Sunday. He finished with a career-high 142 yards rushing on 27 carries with three total TDs and was making Bucs defenders miss with amazing regularity. Barkley and star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (who scored his fifth TD in six games on Sunday) give the Giants two All-Pro-caliber weapons on offense. This is something they can build around.
Coach Pat Shurmur was hired this offseason because he was known as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer. There were moments of doubt in the first half of the season as the Giants offense stumbled on a regular basis. They entered last week averaging 18.3 points per game. They’ve scored 65 points in the two games since. There are rays of hope once again. Shurmur went into the bye week and made some necessary adjustments. He conceded that the Giants with Barkley might be better served running the ball more. They have in the two games out of the bye week. Barkley set a career high in carries each of the past two games. It has taken pressure off the embattled offensive line and opened things up for quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants’ 38 points were the most since they scored 49 in a loss to the New Orleans Saints during the 2015 season. Shurmur’s offense is trending in the right direction after a slow start.
The offensive line and quarterback Eli Manning are playing better. This likely goes hand in hand, but it’s encouraging since neither have played well for much of the past few years. The Giants claimed guard Jamon Brown off waivers during the bye and he put in a second straight strong effort. He’s made a difference. Left tackle Nate Solder is also playing better, left guard Will Hernandez continues to flash promise and all of a sudden this embattled group is doing some good things. This is a core for the future.
As for Manning, he completed 17 of 18 passes for 231 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He had five touchdown passes in the two wins – after eight in the first eight games — all with his starting job seemingly on the line. At the very least, Manning’s Giants career doesn’t seem to be ending sadly with weekly public beatings and an inability to get his team into the end zone.
Manning and the Giants have provided a sliver of optimism over the past week, with six games remaining. Beckham can still dream of that win-out scenario he’s been talking about for weeks.