With the Eagles beating Washington on Sunday, the Giants didn't edge any closer toward first place in the NFC East. By the numbers, the Giants technically held their position with their 27-13 victory against Green Bay.
At 4-6, the Giants are 1.5 games behind the first-place Eagles. Also, though the Giants gained a half-game on idle Dallas, they are still a game behind the second-place Cowboys.
Still, let's set aside the math for a minute and trust our eyes. The Giants very much looked like potential NFC East champions on Sunday.
Once again, the Giants’ defense did its part in victory. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul made the game’s biggest play early in the fourth quarter, leaping to intercept a quick pass from Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien and returning it 24 yards for a touchdown. The score extended the Giants’ lead to 27-13 with 10:49 left, dampening the Packers’ comeback hopes.
While Tolzien threw for 339 yards, the Giants intercepted him three times, which led to 10 New York points. Also, the Giants did well to shut down Green Bay’s running game, which racked up just 55 yards.
In victory, the Giants also got a huge lift from their special teams. The Giants’ first touchdown, a 26-yard Eli Manning-to-Rueben Randle pass play, was set up in part by Randle’s 32-yard punt return into Green Bay territory.
Then, in the third quarter, the Giants’ punt-coverage team stopped a Packers fake punt short of a first down. At the time, the Packers trailed just 13-6. A first down would have allowed the Packers to keep the ball in Giants territory. Instead, the Giants got the stop, and the offense capitalized, putting together a 10-play, 63-yard drive ending in Brandon Jacobs’ one-yard TD run to give Big Blue a 20-6 lead.
The Giants’ offense, for its part, played one of its best games of the season. Manning was sharp, completing 25-of-35 passes for 279 yards with one TD. He was intercepted once, but that was the Giants’ lone turnover of the contest.
Overall, Manning’s play was a strength. When that happens, the Giants are going to be formidable, given how their defense has played. And when the kicking game does its part . . . well, now we’ve got something going here.
On Sunday, the Giants looked like a team that could play in January. Manning was on-target. Receivers Randle, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks combined to catch 15-of-19 passes thrown their way for 197 yards. All three receivers had at least one catch of 26 yards or more. The ground game was solid, too, racking up 78 yards on 24 carries.
The Giants’ victory was their fourth in a row. And let’s be frank: some of those wins weren’t exactly artful. But Sunday’s victory? Now this was something that caught the eye. This was a skillful team win. At a time of year when some clubs are fading out of contention, the Giants appear to be getting stronger — and just in time, with the rival Cowboys coming to MetLife Stadium on Sunday in a game with significant NFC East ramifications.