EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — While there was increased frustration and anger in the locker room in recent weeks as the New York Giants fell out of playoff contention, there was also a sense of excitement, especially for the die-hard fans.
With each loss, the Monday-morning focus turned to the 2024 NFL draft and where the Giants would be selecting in the first round. After being blown out by Dallas a week ago, the choice seemed destined to be anywhere from No. 1 to 4. The hope was landing the No. 1 overall pick, which meant just lose, baby.
The Giants (3-8) spoiled that plan Sunday, beating the Washington Commanders 31-19. They forced six turnovers and got three touchdown passes from undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito.
“It’s a good kind of momentum booster for us and get it flowing into the room and get guys, younger guys, especially, to remember who we are,” safety Justin Pinnock said Monday. “Sometimes things pile up in the game, whether it’s early, offensively, defensively, special teams, or whatever the case may be, and it just doesn’t go your way. These types of games get you that momentum to keep rolling through the rest of the season.”
Coach Brian Daboll can take credit for that. He has taken the same one-day-at-a time approach since the start of the season. Actually, it's the same method he employed in taking over the team last season and leading it to a 9-7-1 record and its first playoff berth since 2016.
“He keeps us all within the room from upstairs to downstairs to chefs to everybody in the building, he keeps us all right here,” Pinnock said. “Just keep it going. Never get too high; never get too low. Just stay within the building is how you avoid being on that roller coaster so much.”
The Giants have six games left. Two are against the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles. The records of the other four teams are .500 or worse — the Saints (5-5), Patriots (2-8), Packers (4-6) and Rams (4-6).
The way the Giants are playing, the die-hards may have to settle for a worse draft pick than they would have wanted.
After giving up 79 points in the last two games, coordinator Wink Martindale's defense limited the Commanders to 19 points and forced five of Washington's six turnovers. The Giants' kickoff unit recovered a fumble for the other one.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Once again, the offensive line. This is the first time the Giants have been able to start the same line (left tackle Andrew Thomas, left guard Justin Pugh, center John Michael Schmitz, right guard Ben Bredeson and right tackle Tyre Phillips) in consecutive weeks. The Commanders had nine sacks and 11 quarterback hits. DeVito has to take his share of the blame for holding the ball too long. Also, the rushing game was invisible for three quarters. Saquon Barkley had a 36-yard run on the final play of the third quarter and finished with 84 yards.
Kayvon Thibodeaux. Two days after being cleared from the concussion protocol, the second-year edge rusher had two sacks, giving him 10 1/2 for the season, and three quarterback hits. He is the first Giant with double-digit sacks since Leonard Williams had 11 1/2 in 2020.
Azeez Ojulari. The edge rusher opposite Thibodeaux was on the field for 49 plays and did not have either a tackle or an assist. Granted, he is coming off an ankle injury, but he needs to do more.
WR Darius Slayton, who caught his first touchdown of the season, left the game with an injury to his lower right arm and did not return. Daboll did not have an update on his condition.
0 — The Giants did not turn the ball over.
The Giants face the Patriots Sunday and then finally get a bye. They return for a Monday night game against the visiting Green Bay Packers on Dec. 11.
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