Credit: Bill Moore photo

Few people that closely follow football expected the Giants to go on the road last Sunday and defeat the Seattle Seahawks.

They were a heavy 10-point underdog on the major betting lines. Despite having won three consecutive games, the Giants went into Seattle without their starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who was still recovering from an injured right hamstring, sustained the previous Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Moreover, not the Giants, nor any other team in the NFC East division, had defeated an opponent who held a winning record this season. The Seahawks were 8-3 and the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff race. None of that mattered to the Giants. On the strength of a defensive unit that is playing as well as a Giants defense has over the past five seasons, and a rushing attack surprisingly thriving in the absence of star running back Saquon Barkley, they held off the Seahawks 17-12 to maintain their first place division lead.

“I’ve seen this group make consistent improvement day in and day out which carries over week by week,” said Giants head coach Joe Judge after the victory. “It didn’t necessarily show in the results we were getting but I’m proud of the way they work on a weekly basis.”

After starting the season 1-7, the Giants are now 5-7, the same record as the Washington Football Team. On Monday night, Washington pulled off an even bigger shocker than the Giants, besting the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road by 23-17, ending the 11-1 Steelers’ distinction as the league’s lone undefeated team. The Giants hold the tie-breaker over Washington, having beaten them in both of their meetings this season. The two other NFC East teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, are 3-8-1 and 3-9 respectively.

The Giants’ defense, led by its underrated coordinator Patrick Graham and ranked 10th in the NFL in yards allowed per game at 339, was stingy against the Seahawks, limiting them to 327. Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ electric quarterback, was stifled by the Giants’ dogged front seven and a secondary that didn’t allow his targets much open space.

Spearheaded by defensive lineman Leonard Williams, they limited Wilson to only 263 yards passing and one touchdown on 43 attempts, and forced him into an interception. The Giants sacked Wilson five times for 47 yards, including 2.5 for Williams, which tied his career high. He also accounted for five of the Giants’ 10 pressures on Wilson, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The Giants effectively blanketed Wilson’s most dangerous weapon, wide receiver DK Metcalf. The 6-4, 230 pound Metcalf, who runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, has an imposing blend of size, speed and power. He leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,119.

Yet the Giants, primarily cornerback James Bradberry, who is having an All-Pro caliber season, minimized Metcalf. The receiver ended the day with an innocuous five catches for 80 yards and no TDs. On the other side of the ball, Wayne Gallman offset Jones’ inability to play.

While second-string quarterback Colt McCoy threw for just 105 yards, the fourth-year running back from Clemson, drafted by the Giants with the 140th pick in 2017, pounded the Seahawks for a career high 135 yards, including a 60-yard scamper in the third quarter.

Gallman has emerged as the Giants’ current No. 1 back with Barkley out rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in the second game of the season, Sept. 20, versus the Chicago Bears. “Not saying that we didn’t have a team before in the past, but this team, everyone wants it,” expressed Gallman on Sunday.

“From our coaches, to our owners, to the players. We really want it. We know what we have and we just have to keep on going every week.”

The Giants will host the 6-6 Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.