In the middle of the 2020 season for the giants, they have lost seven of their eight matches, with four defeats by four points or less.
When asked about the description of his team, Giants coach Joe Judge replied: “I see a lot of improvement.”
As a junior coach in the NFL, the judge is given a little comfort to keep his optimism in a grim situation. But the judge is nothing if not a pointless man. He was tutored for nearly a decade by Patriots Bill Bilesick and Nick Saban of Alabama, both royals in the Outright Speech category.
On Sunday, after the Giants’ 17-12 win over the Seattle Seahawks, one of the biggest turmoil of the NFL season and their fourth consecutive win for the first-placed giants, the judge’s message changed in only one way. He still talks about the continuous improvement he’s seeing, then added, “I’m glad to see some tangible results of all the hard work.”
Oh, and the Giants (5-7) handed the Seahawks (8-4) their first home defeat this year behind midfielder Colt McCoy, who has not won as a main player in six years.
Most surprisingly, the giants have not claimed their most significant win in several years by trickery or a new game plan that topples Seattle from its usual and efficient rhythm. The Giants pushed the Seahawks sideways to the melee streak and focused on a conservative approach, particularly in the second half when they scored all their points.
Along the way, the Giants rushed 190 yards and sacked Seattle midfielder Russell Wilson five times. McCoy only had 105 yards passing with one interception after a deflection, but as the Giants built and then protected their lead in the second half late in the match, McCoy completed a series of pivot passes in third to extend the lead.
Or in the judge’s (few) words: “Colt really went up.”
To keep things in perspective, the Giants are only competing for the post-season sidewalk because they play in fearsome NFC East, where a losing record of just two games under 0.500 is good enough to make them top the division titles, a match against Washington’s team that will face Pittsburgh’s unbeaten day Monday. But, consider this as little progress – or improvement, says Judge: On Sunday the Giants became the first NFC East team this season to defeat a team on a winning record.
“They were really strong and gave us tough times all day,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll. “We didn’t move the ball very well – it’s kind of an uncharacteristic feeling.”
The highlight of the giants’ defensive effort was the dash of team passes, which chased Wilson throughout the match. Behind the sacks, Wilson, who had completed 27 of 43 passes for 263 yards with one drop and interception, had to sprint by throwing several times and would often run as he passed.
Giants player Leonard Williams, a former Gates defensive midfielder, had two and a half sacks on Sunday, giving him eight and a half sacks this season. When the Giants used their mark of franchise to sign Williams in the spring, the giants’ general manager Dave Gettleman received some criticism over the deal. Williams has been an extremely troublesome force to oppose the midfielders in nearly every game this year. Or as the judge said on Sunday evening: “A dude is a man.”
Another rising giants star, running backwards Wayne Gallman, had a stellar game, lashing out 135 yards on just 16 gigs. In place of injured Sackon Barclay, he gave Galman the stability of the Giants attack and relieved a lot of pressure on midfielder Daniel Jones, who missed the match with a hamstring injury, and McCoy.
Although Gallman had sprinted 94 yards in the Giants’ previous game against Cincinnati, Carroll looked a little stunned with his performance on Sunday.
“They’ve turned some key stuff and walked away,” said Carole of the second half when Gallman had 129 yards from his fast yards.
Seattle slid 5-0 in the first half, and a 60-yard dash by Gallman took possession of the second Giants in the third quarter, resulting in a 4-yard drop by Alfred Morris. The successful two-point conversion attempt gave the giants an 8-5 lead.
Gallman’s 23-yard run on the Giants’ next route gave Morris another quick touchdown and took a 14-5 lead after center kick player Graham Jano missed an extra-points attempt. Jano added a field goal in the fourth quarter to put the Giants ahead, 17-5, but Wilson led the Seahawks in 11 games that culminated in a 28-yard touchdown pass to Chris Carson with just over six minutes remaining in the game.
Gallman and McCoy teamed up to run a good deal of hour on their next possession before returning the ball to Seattle 108 seconds before the end of the fourth quarter. But the strong defensive effort continued and the Seahawks did not advance closer than the Giants’ 46-yard streak.
Noting that there are more winning teams – in the form of Cleveland (9-3) and Baltimore (6-5) – in the remaining schedule, the judge did not appear overly enthusiastic about the giants’ surprise win. He still seemed to be getting better in his mind.
“I like the fact that we are a young team,” he said.