- Final Score: Giants 30, Texans 17
- Giants’ Records: 1-2 overall (1-1 at home, 0-1 away)
- NFC East Picture: The Giants are tied for third place with the Washington Redskins (1-2), who lost a close shootout in Philadelphia, to the first-place Eagles (3-0). The second-place Dallas Cowboys (2-1) rallied from a 21-0 deficit to eke out a three-point win in St. Louis.
WHAT TO LIKE
- Good Balance on Offense: Eli Manning was sharp (21-for-28, for 234 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT) as New York passed for a net of 226 yards. They also rushed for a season-high 193 yards behind the terrific running of Rashad Jennings who took advantage of the Giants’ revamped offensive line finally opening up some big holes for him. After carrying 34 times for 110 total yards over the first two weeks, Jennings rushed the same amount of times for a career-high 176 yards (5.2 yards per carry). The offensive line also kept its quarterback clean. Houston lone sack was the only hit that the Texans were credited with on Manning.
- Scoring Spike: The same Giants who were stuck on 14 points over each of the first two weeks, and who were locked in a scoreless tie with the Texans after one quarter on Sunday, racked up 30 points over the final three quarters, posted the game’s first 17 points and twice scored on three straight possessions (with a third-quarter punt mixed in between).
- Putting The Game Away: The Giants let the Texans back in the game, as their 17-0 lead was cut to 17-10 heading into the final quarter. But they started that period with 13 straight points, to lead, 30-10, and secure their first win of the season.
- The Secondary: New York entered the game as one of only three NFL teams this season without a takeaway. The Giants ended the day with three interceptions if quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, all of which came from their back four, as safety Antrel Rolle and cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara each snagged a pick. Thanks in part to the first two interceptions, Houston failed to score on its first seven drives, while punting four times and failing to convert on a fourth down on its first trip of the second half. The always dangerous Andre Johnson was also kept in check, with just four catches for 24 yards.
- Victor Cruz and Larry Donnell: Cruz wanted the ball after Week 1, but proceeded to drop it in Week 2. Against the Texans, Cruz was solid with five catches on six targets for a team-high 107 yards, including a big 61-yard reception and a nice change-of-direction, 26-yard catch and run for the game’s first score, to put New York up, 7-0, early in the second quarter. Meanwhile, with earlier questions about whether the Giants would ever have a legitimate threat at tight end, it’s possible they found one after an impressive, six-catch, 45-yard effort from Larry Donnell.
WHAT TO DISLIKE
- Big Play Blues: Something which has plagued the Giants in recent years — giving up huge chucks of yardage on a single play — continued to be a problem for New York’s defense, which allowed receptions of 31 yards (on running back Jonathan Grimes’ only catch), a 46-yard run for backup running back Alfred Blue, and two big receptions for a pair of Texan receivers, as one of Damaris Johnson’s two receptions went for 44 yards and DeAndre Hopkins had 49 of his game-high 116 yards on one catch.
- Failing To Finish: Two early Giants drives — on their second and third trips, respectively – ended fruitlessly in terms of putting points on the board in the opening quarter. A 10-play, 60-yard drive ended when Donnell caught a pass and fumbled at the Texans 4-yard line, following Amukamara’s interception. One possession later, the Giants wasted Cruz’s 61-yard catch as Zach DeOssie botched the snap on a short field goal attempt.
- Arian Foster’s Absence: The Giants caught a break when Houston’s top running back Arian Foster wasn’t able to go, but New York will make no apologies for that, especially since its linebacker and defensive signal caller, Jon Beason, also missed the game due to injury.
- A Blocked Punt: Damontre Moore only had two tackles on defense, but he made his presence felt in a huge way with a blocked punt early in the fourth quarter that helped decide the game. The Texans were only down 10 before Moore set his teammates up with a short 29-yard field that the Giants’ offense needed just three plays to traverse. The result was a 9-yard touchdown pass from Manning to tight end Daneil Fells (for his first score as a Giant) to give New York a commanding 27-10 lead with 9:25 left.
- The Taskmaster Taking It Easy: Rather than coming down hard on his players for mistakes that were committed in the Giants’ Week 2 loss to Arizona, Mr. If-You’re-Not-Five-Minutes-Early-To-A-Meeting-You’re-Late took the opposite approach, and it seemed to pay off. Instead of looking tight in what many felt was a must-win game, Coughlin played rap music at practice and closed one of the practices with a punt-catching competition between the offensive and defensive linemen leading up to the game.
The most noticeable thing about Week 3 was the Giants’ offense finally breaking out in a big way, especially the way Coughlin wanted it to, with the running game leading the way, allowing Manning and his receiving corps to be a dangerous complement to that, rather than trying to do too much and risking turnovers. The other big thing is simply that New York got a win. Especially after last year’s 0-6 start, there’s a chasm of a difference between going 1-2 and 0-3 to start the season. The pressure is off, the confidence is back and the Giants can taste a .500 record if they can take care of business again next week.
The Giants have a short week before hitting the road for a meeting with the Washington Redskins on Thursday night. Thus far, the reduced rest and prep time for teams in that situation has been highly unfavorable toward road teams this season. Home teams are 3-0 on Thursday night, winning by a combined score of 118-36 this year. Throw in the facts that it’s New York’s first divisional matchup of the season and that quarterback Kirk Cousins has played very well while subbing for the injured Robert Griffin III, and the Giants could have their hands full. But at least after beating Houston the way they did, they should have a fighting chance just outside the nation’s capital.