Giants defense stifles Commanders, makes late stand to end 4-game skid in 14-7 win
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The way the New York Giants have played defense the past few weeks, their inept offense can take the rest of the season to figure things out and coach Brian Daboll's team will still have a chance for more victories.
Tyrod Taylor threw two second-quarter touchdown passes and the Dexter Lawrence-led defense had six sacks and made a last-minute stand to help New York snap a four-game skid with a 14-7 victory over the Washington Commanders on Sunday.
Taylor, starting for the second straight week with Daniel Jones sidelined with a neck injury, hit Darren Waller on a 15-yard score and added a 32-yard pass play to Saquon Barkley as New York (2-5) scored its first two offensive first-half touchdowns of the season. He finished 18 of 29 for 279 yards.
Brian Robinson Jr. scored on a 4-yard run for Washington (3-4) early in the third quarter after Giants veteran Sterling Shepard muffed a punt and the Commanders, who were limited to 46 yards in the first half, recovered at the 21.
New York held Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills to 297 total yards in a 14-9 loss last week.
“We're playing pretty well right now,” said linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux, who had 1 1/2 sacks and dropped a sure pick-6 at the Washington 15 in the third quarter. “We've held teams to 21 points the last two games. I think guys are doing their jobs and not making it took complicated and getting things done.”
The defensive stats said it all. Washington was held to 273 total yards, including 76 rushing. The Commanders were 1 of 15 on third-down conversions.
Lawrence, who led the Giants with two sacks, six tackles and four quarterback hits, refused to say the defense won the game.
“I think as a team, we have each other’s back,” he said. “One game, the defense might not play well and the offense will have our back. I think it’s just a collective thing. And we just got to continue to fight and grow.”
The Giants, who have been a disappointment after making the playoffs last season, had to make one more stand after Barkley lost a fumble inside the Washington 5. Sam Howell led Washington to a first-and-10 at the New York 12. On fourth and 5 from the 7-yard line, his pass was a little behind Jahan Dotson, and the receiver could not make the catch.
“That last play, I got to make it easier on Jahan,” said Howell, who finished 22 of 42 for 249 yards. “Probably a lot of people are going to say he should have caught it. I’ve got to give him a better ball. He was wide open.”
The loss was the fourth in five games for the Commanders. The game ended when Washington tackle Daron Payne was hurt on a third-down kneel down by Taylor. Since the Commanders had no more timeouts, the clock ran out.
“Being down 0-2 in the division is tough because to make the playoffs, to get to the goals you want to get to, you got to be successful in the division,” said receiver Terry McLaurin, who had all six of his catches in the second half for 90 yards. “Right now, we’re not getting it done.”
Each team blew a field goal chance. Graham Gano missed a 42-yarder for New York in the first quarter and Washington's Joey Slye had a 27-yarder blocked by Leonard Williams early in the fourth quarter.
The Giants offense ended a 205-minute scoreless streak over three-plus games — more than 14 2/3 quarters — with the third-down strike to Waller 42 seconds into the second quarter. It came after Washington coach Ron Rivera elected to enforce a holding penalty after the Giants were stopped on third down at the 2-yard line. The second TD came on a 32-yard catch-and-run by Barkley after he eluded a tackle by linebacker Jamin Davis after catching a short pass. It came two plays after rookie Deonte Banks intercepted Howell at the Giants 31.
AS THE O-LINE TURNS
With right tackle Evan Neal joining left tackle Andrew Thomas and center John Michael Schmitz among the injured, the Giants changed the starting lineup for the sixth time in seven games.
The new line was Justin Pugh at left tackle, Marcus McKethan at left guard, Ben Bredeson at center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Tyre Phillips at right tackle. Chase Young had two of Washington's four sacks
Commanders: MLB Cody Barton left the game in the first half with an ankle injury. LG Saahdiq Charles went out with a calf injury late in the third quarter.
Giants: RB/R Eric Gray (calf) and RB Gary Brightwell (hamstring) left in the first half after being hurt on special teams plays.
Commanders: Return to FedEx Field for their second game of the season against the Eagles.
Giants: Play the Jets in the game for the bragging rights of MetLife Stadium.