The Giants’ offense looked improved for parts of their week one victory. However, the defense made the victory possible and deserves a ton of credit.
The Giants’ defense played very well in a game that needed them to do well to win. Despite the Linebacking group and secondary having struggles, the Giants only let up 14 points in the first half and six points in the second half. The Giants’ defense went into this game with questions about their linebacking group and secondary. Azeez Ojulari and Kayivon Thibodeaux both missed this game with injuries. Even still, New York came away with the win.
The Giants’ Defense Started The Game In Rough Shape
The secondary showed its struggles on the first drive of the game when it allowed a touchdown. Despite the team having somewhat okay run defense, the Giants got destroyed in the passing game. Tennessee had two passing plays of ten or more yards on their first drive. On the first bad play by the Giants secondary, Woods beat Addore Jackson in coverage in what appeared to be some type of ten-and-in route.
After a nice five-yard run from Henry, Treylon Burks got a huge 20-yard play off a misstep from what appeared to be Julian Love. It appears, that Burks ran some kind of ten-and-out route. In the RedZone, Dontrell Hillard scores a touchdown after beating linebacker Austin Calitro in coverage. He beat Calitro in what appeared to be a slant route out of the backfield. Although the Giants had a short field due to a bad punt return defense, this was not a good showing by the Giants’ defense.
On the next defensive possession, shockingly New York got a three and out. Despite Henry getting five yards on first down, the Giants stopped Henry for no gain on second. On third, the Titans threw an incomplete pass and the Giants got off the field. The Giants’ offense did them no favors and they went on their own three and out. On the third defensive possession of the game for the Giants, the linebackers struggled against Henry and co. Henry, Hillard, and Swaim all had big drives.
On one of the third downs of the drive, Hillard would beat Tae Crowder on a slant-type route for a big gain. Hillard would get to the Giants’ 43 for a gain of 31 yards. Soon after, it appeared that Tae Crowder missed his assignment (or man) when Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was able to get 13 yards on a crossing route. After two good stops by the defense, they made the Titans settle for a field goal.
The offensive continued to struggle and gave the Titans a short field after a fumble by Jones. A defensive holding by Darney Holmes kept New York on the field on third. Fabien Moreau just straight messed up against Cody Hollister. While it appeared the Giants were running zone on that play, Moreau did not stay with Hollister as he caught the ball for a 22-yard gain on a fly route. This put the Titans in the red zone. The Giants were able to stop Henry from catching the ball on third down and kept the Titans to another field goal.
New York would force a punt on their last defense drive. Despite this, Henry had a monster run up the middle for 18 yards. While Henry would have a monster run, the Giants would stop the Titans from scoring any points (as already stated). On third down and four at the 47-yard line, the Giants forced the titans to throw an incomplete pass behind pressure and a solid secondary play.
The Giants First Half Wasn’t Perfect But Improved Over Time
While the defense wasn’t spectacular in the first half, the defense played well considering the circumstances. The second half would be where the Giants’ defense started to shine. The Giants started off with two defensive three-and-outs to start the half. On the first offensive snap of the second half for the Titans, Henry had a solid seven-yard gain. While it seemed like the team wouldn’t get a three and out here, they did.
After limiting Henry to two yards on second down, the Giants were able to get lucky off a bad snap to Henry in wildcat formation on third. Still, the defense did well on that third down. On the next defensive possession, again Henry had a solid first down run. This time he had a run of five yards. Despite this, the Giants were able to keep the Titans from getting a first down behind a good run stop on second (Hillard ran the ball instead of Henry) and an incomplete pass on third down.
The next defensive drive would not be as good. Despite two flags from the Titans and a good field position, the defense would let up a touchdown. The secondary got lit up on this drive. Burks and wideout Kyle Phillps had multiple catches. This includes a key catch from Burks that turned a first and 18 (holding penalty from the Titans) into a new set of downs. Addore Jackson couldn’t keep up with Burks crossing route on that play
This will continue to be a staple in the #Titans passing attack. Playaction, outside receiver runs a crossing route. These kinds of plays getting Treylon Burks the ball will best take advantage of his YAC ability. 27 yd gain on this play. pic.twitter.com/NZdN0NCYdO — TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) September 11, 2022
A couple of plays later, Tae Crowder couldn’t keep up with Dontrell Hillard on a wheel-type route.
Dontrell Hillard TD x2 ‼️ @D_Hilliard26 📺: #NYGvsTEN on FOX 📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/z4k2UMB2UG pic.twitter.com/3sE4ALCazV — NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2022
This would be the last touchdown the defense allowed all day. The Giants forced two straight punts on the next two drives with the longest drive lasting only five plays. After New York scored a touchdown and went for two (and got it) to take the lead late, the defense needed to get some stops.
The defense did not. After New York got lucky with the Titans’ false start, the secondary decided to disappear. The Titans went to Kyle Phillps early and often on that drive. It seemed like the game was over when Kyle Phillps beat Darney Holmes on his route and got a 21-yard catch. Holmes already had a holding penalty that extended the drive for Titans a play earlier so this was clearly, not his best drive. The Giants would get lucky as Randy bullock would miss the game-winning field goal 23 seconds later.
Despite all the defensive mistakes in this game, I would say it was a pretty solid outing defensively for the Giants. Considering both of their edge rushers were out for this game, it was a solid performance. Despite the japs in the secondary and linebacking core, the defense kept the Giants in this game in the first half and only allowed six points in the second half. If the defense plays like this all season, they might be a little better than people expected.