By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants took a positive approach in preparation for their game against the Houston Texans this week, something stressed by coach Tom Coughlin starting at practice. It may have been that mindset that allowed the Giants to overcome a couple of early blunders, a fumble that could have cost the team a touchdown and a bad snap that negated what would have been a chip-shot field goal attempt, and win their first game of the season.
The Giants defeated the Texans 30-17 on the power of a punishing ground attack that accumulated nearly 200 yards and a defense that finally caused a turnover, coming up with not one but three interceptions against Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was enough for a dominating performance that gets the Giants season back on track with a 1-2 record.
Here are the players that made this victory happen, as we hand out Game Balls to seven different players. We also hand out a couple of Game Falls for those early blunders. Read our breakdown of the Giants victory over Houston right here.
Rashad Jennings: The Giants running back controlled the game against Houston, rushing 34 times for 176 yards and a touchdown. The Giants ground game gashed the Texans for 191 yards in all, which limited the impact of All-Pro J.J. Watt and company, a huge reason for the victory. Jennings was one of the Giants big free agency additions in the offseason and he finally had the impact they were hoping for. Jennings, who had a big fumble last week against Arizona that could have cost the Giants a chance to win, had a huge bounce-back performance. The Giants certainly have to fell great about the running game now.
Victor Cruz: A week after getting blasted for dropping three passes in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals, and being booed by the home crowd, Cruz was back in everyone's good graces Sunday. He caught five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. The score, a 26-yard pass play, was his first since Week 4 of last season. Cruz also added a 61-yard reception in the game.
Eli Manning: This was by far Manning's best game of the season, as he picked apart the Texans defense when he needed to. He was 21-of-28 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Best of all, for the first time this season, Manning didn't turn the ball over. The Giants had 419 yards of total offense.
Damontre Moore: The Giants put the game away early in the fourth quarter after Moore blocked a Shane Lechler punt at the Texans 26. The Giants turned the good field position into a touchdown three plays later for a 27-10 lead. The Giants led by just 10 before the blocked punt, making it a big turning point in the game.
Giants Secondary: Prince Amukamara, Antrel Rolle and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie each got an interception against Houston, the first three takeaways of the season for the Giants. Amukamara's pick gave the Giants solid field position early on, but a potential scoring drive was ruined by a fumble. Rolle's interception was returned to the Houston 2 and the Giants punched that one in for a touchdown. Rodgers-Cromartie's takeaway effectively ended the game in the fourth quarter. After a couple of rough games, this was a big one for the Giants secondary.
Zak DeOssie: The Giants long-snapper spoiled a scoring chance in the second quarter, with a bad snap that ruined a field goal opportunity. If the Giants lost this game, that would have been the play everyone would remember, as it already had fans believing the Giants were embarrassing themselves at that point. The Giants started the game with a punt, fumble and then that botched snap on a 29-yard field goal attempt. But everything is forgotten now.
Larry Donnell: He's been the most consistent offensive player for the Giants, but his fumble had the fans thinking "here we go again." The Giants had all the momentum early after an Amukamara interception and the Giants driving deep into Texans territory. Donnell caught a pass to the Texans' 4, but fumbled and the Texans recovered. Donnell still had six catches for 45 yards, so it wasn't all bad.