The Giants aren’t tanking for a high draft pick. The players haven’t quit on Pat Shurmur, their head coach, whose future with the team is dubious. They put forth maximum effort this past Sunday, Dec. 22, in defeating NFC East rival Washington on the road 41-35 in overtime to register their fourth win of the season.
After allowing Washington to tie the score at 35 with 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Case Keenum and successful extra-point attempt, the Giants subsequently won the overtime coin toss and drove down the field, concluding with a 3-yard game-ending TD from quarterback Daniel Jones to tight-end Kaden Smith.
How the Giants defeated Washington was as significant as the victory. The two players on whom they have staked the franchise’s near future had their best statistical games of what has been another losing campaign for the 4-11 team.
Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones came back after missing the previous game due to a high right ankle sprain to throw for 352 yards and five touchdowns. Second year running back Saquon Barkley, the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, who has been hampered much of this season by his own high right ankle sprain sustained in Week 3, looked like the Barkley of a season ago, rushing for 189 yards on 22 carries and scoring a touchdown. He also imposed his immense talent as a pass catcher, posting four receptions for 90 yards and adding another TD.
“I think that is what they kind of envisioned when they drafted DJ and drafted me,” said Barkley after the game of the Giants decision makers selecting him and Jones with the No. 2 and No. 6 overall picks in the 2018 and 2019 NFL Drafts respectively.
“I think we both have the potential and talent to play well together and open stuff up for each other. We showed that today with the help of everyone else and we were able to find a way to get the win.” Jones noted the impact Barkley has both as a runner and receiver.
“I think you see how good he is and how much of a special player he is,” said Jones. “The different things he can do to affect the game. I think that is obvious. The guys up front deserve a lot of credit for opening up holes for him and giving him opportunities to make plays.”
The performances of Jones and Barkley, as well as the win is fleeting. It doesn’t divert attention from the myriad issues the team has to address this off-season. They will miss the playoffs for the seventh time in the last eight seasons and have won a total of only nine games over the last two. They could make it 10 this Sunday at home against the Philadelphia Eagles and take on the role of spoiler.
The 8-7 Eagles and 7-8 Dallas Cowboys are vying for the NFC East title and a playoff spot. If the Eagles defeat the Giants, they will claim the division. If the Cowboys win at home on Sunday versus Washington and the Giants beat the Eagles, the Cowboys will be division champs.