By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants finally put together a complete game this season, getting big games from the offense, defense and even special teams in a 30-17 victory over the Houston Texans. The Giants started slowly, losing a fumble on one potential scoring drive, and later a bad snap on a field goal attempt led to another embarrassing turnover. But it was all Giants after that.
Here's how the Giants won the game, as we break down the team's three keys to victory from our preview and how it played out on the field Sunday.
1. All About Turnovers
Why It Was Key: "Getting right to the point, the Giants can't turn the ball over on offense, and must take the ball away when on defense. If both of those things happen, the Giants likely save their season and beat the Texans." That's how we put it in our preview, as the Giants came into the game already turning the ball over five times and being just one of three teams in the entire league not to create a turnover.
How It Turned Out: The Giants didn't waste much time getting their first takeaway of the season, as Prince Amukamara intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick on the Texans first drive of the game. The Giants couldn't take advantage, however, as in a typical Giants sequence this season, they fumbled on the next drive, with Larry Donnell losing possession on the Texans' 4. But that was the only hiccup for the Giants offense, with Eli Manning playing a clean game. The Giants defense forced three interceptions by Fitzpatrick in all. The Giants second interception, by Antrel Rolle, was returned to the Houston 2 and set up a touchdown for a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked off the third pass to seal the game.
2. Force Fitzpatrick To Pass
Why It Was Key: "The Giants must force Fitzpatrick to beat them with his arm, and that means stacking the box to stop the running game. Fitzpatrick is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and might be the worst, so if the Giants shut down the run and force him to throw, they should be able to win that battle."
How It Turned Out: Texans running back Alfred Blue had 78 yards on 13 carries and wasn't much of a factor. Fitzpatrick threw for 289 yards, but most of those came in the fourth quarter when the Texans were already down big. Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions, proving he is what we thought he was. The Giants came through in a big way here.
3. Keep Watt In Check
Why It Was Key: "The Giants will need to run the ball well, with Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams, to keep JJ Watt honest and beat up the front seven enough to take advantage late in the game. If the Giants do that, they will have their first victory of the season."
How It Turned Out: Watt did have a huge game against the Giants, with seven tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage, a sack and a pass defensed. But the Giants rushing attack was unstoppable, with Rashad Jennings picking up 176 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries. The Giants had 193 total yards on the ground, beating Houston into submission.
The Giants ended up going 3-for-3 in our keys to victory and, not surprisingly, the end result was a big win over the Texans, their first of the season.