The circumstances for a Giants win versus the New Orleans Saints last Sunday were markedly unfavorable. They had lost their first three games to start this season, were averaging just 18.6 points per game while giving up 24, missing wide receivers Sterling Sheppard and Darius Slayton due to hamstring injuries, and entering a highly exuberant atmosphere at the Caesars SuperDome, where the Saints were playing their first home game since being displaced by Hurricane Ida, which ravaged New Orleans at the end of August.
Yet the Giants were a desperate team. After falling to 0-3, countless fans and media speculated that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was on a path to termination if not at the conclusion of the season than perhaps sooner. Some, in full reactionary mode, advocated for the immediate dismissal of Garrett, head coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman following a crushing 17-14 loss at home to the previously winless Atlanta Falcons on a game-ending field goal in Week 3.
Their desired housecleaning was deferred when the Giants pulled out an unlikely 27-21 overtime victory against the Saints. It was the third of the four Giants games this season that was decided by the final play. Down by 11 points with 12:09 remaining in the fourth quarter after the Saints’ multi-purpose backup quarterback Taysom Hill capped off an 11-play, 63-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run, the Giants tied the score at 21-21 with just 31 seconds left in regulation on a 48-yard field goal by Graham Gano.
They then won the coin toss to start overtime and never allowed the Saints offense to touch the ball again. The Giants advanced 75 yards in 9 plays, with running back Saquon Barkley willing his way into the end zone from the Saints’ 6-yard line to clinch the win. Their first victory since defeating the Dallas Cowboys last January in the season finale was as much of a relief as it was reassurance going into this Sunday’s meeting with the Cowboys on the road.
“We haven’t won a game all year, so for us to come out here and win a game in a tough environment against a great defense and a great team is great,” said Barkley after his TD dropped the Saints to 2-2. “We have to keep believing in each other and get ready for next week. Personally, it helps with your confidence to make plays out there especially late in the game…It definitely builds my confidence up.”
After being sidelined 14 games last season with a torn ACL, Barkley experienced his most productive game since his return in Week 1 of this season. He had 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, and caught five passes for 74 yards, including a 54-yard TD reception.
Quarterback Daniel Jones also elevated to new heights, throwing for a career-high 402 yards. Veteran receivers John Ross and Kenny Golladay, and rookie first round pick Kadarius Toney mitigated the absences of Sheppard and Slayton. Golladay led the team with six catches for 116 yards. Toney snagged six passes for 78. And Ross three for 77 yards, the most impactful a 52-yard touchdown reception from Jones at 8:51 in the second quarter.
“If you look at it, all of the receivers had a part and did their job,” said Golladay. “I felt like everyone in the receivers room did a great job of helping Daniel Jones out. He put it on us.”