It's about time. The New York Giants are officially off the schnide after a convincing 30-17 smackdown of the Houston Texans on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, to capture their first victory of the year.
While it wasn't pretty early, the Giants found a way to get past their own mistakes thanks in part to the fact that Houston couldn't get out of their own way either. The Giants fumble the football in the red zone? No problem, the Texans turn it back over on a Ryan Fitzpatrick interception. The Giants botch a field goal attempt? Doesn't matter, the Texans can't move the football on their next possession.
Houston's own incompetence gave the Giants a chance in this game, and with that free ticket, Eli Manning took full advantage. Midway through the second quarter Manning engineered a nine play 83-yard drive that culminated in Manning hitting Victor Cruz in the flat for a 26-yard touchdown. It was the first touchdown of the year for Cruz -- but -- in a lot of ways, it relaxed the Giants. A wild game that was going at 90 mph, was now under their control and they knew it.
The Giants defense pinned its ears back and harrassed Fitzpatrick. They sacked him for a six-yard loss on first down; then they stuffed the ground game on second down. Finally Antrelle Rolle picked off a Fitzpatrick pass that bounced off the hands of Andre Johnson, setting the Giants up at the Houston two-yard line.
Rashard Jennings finished off the scoring opportunity by plunging in from one and a half yards out on third down to make it Giants 14, Texans 0.
Losing streak? Thing of the past. Mistakes and penalties? Not on this day. Confidence? You betcha.
Come the second half the Giants put the football firmly in the hands of Jennings and the former Raider didn't disappoint. He carried the football on every play of the Giants opening drive of the third quarter for 24 yards to set up a Giants field goal to make it 17-0.
Even when the Texans tried to make a game of it late in the third quarter there was a certain aura around the Giants that they were not going to be denied for the third consecutive week. Manning and Jennings interchanged plays for a combined 38 yards to push the ball to the Houston 39. Lastly, Manning hit Cruz for 12-yards to the 27-yard line and the Giants were set up for another field goal to make it 20-10.
With a ten-point lead the Giants defense needed to make one more big stand and did they ever. With 10:41 to go in the game, the Giants blocked a Shane Lechler punt, retrieving it at the Houston 29. From there Jennings dashed across the left side for 15 yards to the nine. Manning then capped off the drive with a rope to Daniel Fells to push New York ahead 27-10. At this point the game was won.
Jennings was incredible. A week after costing the Giants on a fumble in the fourth quarter, Jennings ran for 176 yards on Sunday. He cut in and out of a usually stiff Texans defense eating up yards and clock in the process. Jennings' big day took a lot of pressure off Manning, who had a solid day completing 21 of 28 passes for 234 yards and two scores.
The Giants (1-2) are no longer on death's door in 2014. They have a heartbeat. A sigh of relief could be seen on the faces of all the players on the New York sideline. Weeks of hard work and stress finally resulted in a big time win for Big Blue.
The Giants will have a very short week before their next game in Washington against the Kirk Cousins-led Redskins on Thursday night. The Giants will look to get back to .500 and 1-0 in their division in week 4.