Giants fans can rest easy as the New York defeated the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon 27-22 to improve to 1-2 in the early part of the 2018 campaign. The win was highlighted by an excellent performance of Quarterback Eli Manning who finished 25/29 for 297 yards and two touchdowns.
Head Coach Pat Shurmer knew what Eli capable and knew how tough he is after everything he has gone through the last year or so. “I believe in him, and our quarterback needs to know that we believe in him. We know that he’s got that in him, and the thing I like about Eli – and I appreciate this about anybody – at some point in this game, you don’t win all the time, and at some point you take a punch, and Eli can take them and keep playing. I think that’s the thing that even before I knew Eli, as much winning as he was involved with here all those years, I always admired the fact that he just stays the course and keeps playing with the idea that tomorrow is going to be a better day if today isn’t such a good one. I admire that. That’s really the most important thing, toughness and grit.”
After holding the Texans to a field goal, the Giants scored a touchdown on their first offensive possession when Saquon Barkley scored on a 15-yard run. It was their first opening-possession touchdown since the 2017 season finale, when Orleans Darkwa scored on a 75-yard run against Washington.
Eli Manning’s touchdown to Sterling Shepard, was first to a wide receiver this season. Shepard caught six passes for 80 yards and scored his first touchdown since Dec. 17, 2017 vs. Philadelphia.
Mannings other touchdown was to tight end Rhett Ellison in the second quarter .Ellison had three receptions for 39 yards and scored for the first time since Dec. 10, 2017 against Dallas.
Some of the other standouts from the win was Defensive Lineman Kerry Wynn who was being disruptive to the Texans Offensive schemes. Wynn, who has been a veteran in the locker room felt this was the teams best effort and the group had to cause turnovers to have a chance to win. “We knew that it was going to come down to just getting turnovers, and we knew we needed to have a spark for the offense. There’s times when we need a spark ourselves. We ran to the ball. When you keep running to the ball, good things are going to happen.”
Shurmer noted that Wynn’s play was an important key to the Giants win and could not have done it with out his efforts. I thought Kerry was outstanding. He had five tackles, he had one special teams tackle, he had two assists, he forced a fumble, he had a pass breakup, one quarterback hit, and one quarterback pressure. I mentioned that Eli (Manning) had a pretty good day at the office. That’s a pretty darn good day at the office as well. Kerry is long, he’s kind of a relentless player, he’s tough, he’s all the things you’re looking for – he’s tough, he cares, he works, and he finds a way to make plays. That certainly was an outstanding performance on his part. ”
Change on the Line:
After the 0-2 start and the amount of negative attention the offensive line received, changes were made to salvage the season in Houston yesterday. Chad Wheeler started at right tackle in place of Ereck Flowers, the 2015 first-round draft choice who had started all 49 regular-season and postseason games for which he had been active since his rookie season. Flowers missed two games due to injuries, one in his rookie season and the 2017 finale. Flowers moved from left to right tackle this year and started the season’s first two games. He was limited to blocking on extra points and field goals in Houston.
Wheeler, a second-year pro from USC, started five games last year as a rookie free agent: three at right tackle (most recently at Oakland on Dec.3), one as an extra lineman, and the final game vs. Washington at left tackle.
Pat Shurmer discussed Wheeler’s efforts with the media on Monday’s Conference call. “Here’s what Wheeler did, he did a really good job, I thought, in the run game against a really unpredictable player. I thought he did a good job, and he finished blocks. When you watch him play, you say there’s a guy who’s finishing blocks and doing those things. I’m going to take responsibility for it, a couple times he got stretched out and just pure one-on-one (pass protection) against (J.J. Watt), and I can’t put him in those positions as many times as I did, but he battled and in my opinion, even though he got beat on a couple of snaps, I thought he had a winning performance.”
Nate Solder felt the same way as his Head Coach about Wheeler and his performance as he jumped into the offensive line. “I really respect Chad, I think he’s a great guy, he’s working hard, he’s done all of the things he’s asked of by the coaches and everything like that, so just going forward, like I said, we got to continue to work on improving. I’m sure Chad will say the same thing, as we all have to get better because that was the last game and we’ve got to keep working.”
Th addition to Wheeler, Jon Greco made his first start replacing the injured John Halapio at center. Nate Solder loved the effort and understood how difficult it is to be thrown into that position. ” Like I said, we have a lot to work on and I think he did an excellent job. I thought that his communication was very clear and he understands the offense as well as anybody, so to get that communicated across the board, but we weren’t perfect and we need to be a lot better and that’s not John, that’s all of us and we can’t make excuses because it was loud or because we did something different or whatever, we have to continue to work hard to be as efficient as possible.”
Key Stats and Notes in the win:
The Giants improved to 1-2 and won for the first time under head coach Pat Shurmur.
*The Giants’ 27 points is their highest total since a 34-29 loss to Philadelphia on Dec, 17, 2017, and their highest total in a victory since a 27-13 triumph in Cleveland on Nov. 27, 2016.
*Houston rushed for only 59 yards, the lowest total allowed by the Giants since last Oct. 15, when Denver ran for 46 yards in the Giants’ first victory of the 2017 season. Lamar Miller, the Texans’ leading rusher, gained only 10 yards on 10 carries.
*For the third time in as many games, the Giants won the coin toss and deferred taking possession of the ball until the start of the second half. This was the first time they deferred and won since Nov. 19, 2017 vs. Kansas City. Since 2003, the Giants are 9-21 when they defer, including 1-2 this season.
*This was the first time the Giants scored an opening-possession touchdown on the road since Nov. 1, 2015, when Eli Manning threw a two-yard scoring pass to Odell Beckham, Jr. in what became a 52-49 loss to the Saints. Their previous six first-series scores had been in MetLife Stadium.
*Eli Manning completed 25 of 29 passes for 297 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His 86.2 completion percentage was the second-highest of his career. In the only game in which he had a higher percentage, he also threw four incompletions. On Dec. 14, 2015 in Miami, Manning completed 87.1 percent of his passes (27 of 31) in a 31-24 defeat of the Dolphins.
The Giants’ inactive players were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), cornerback Eli Apple (groin), wide receiver Kaelin Clay (ankle), offensive lineman Evan Brown, defensive backs Mike Jordan and Kamrin Moore, and quarterback Kyle Lauletta.
Olivier missed his third consecutive game; Apple and Clay sat out their first game of the season.
Shurmer On Vernon’s status: “I think we’ll consider him day to day and see how far he can come with it. He’s making progress, he hasn’t had any setbacks, and we just all know that these high ankle sprains take time. ”
Surmer on Eli Apple: “He was out there running around as well. At some point here later this afternoon, (Ronnie Barnes) will come back with some of what he thinks moving forward, but they were both out there working out and kind of getting their normal rehab and running. They were both running, so we’ll just have to see how far along they can come.”
Shurmer on Evan Engram:”Yeah, I mean, it’s a knee. I think that’s accurate, but we’ll just have to see how it progresses.
The Giants will give a game ball to Dave Gettleman, the general manager who did not attend the game. Gettleman’s lymphoma is in remission. Manning presented a second game ball to Shurmur for his first Giants victory.