EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The way the New York Giants have been playing defense the last few weeks, their lackluster offense may take the rest of the season to figure things out, and coach Brian Daboll’s team will still have a chance for more beat.
Tyrod Taylor threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter and the defense, led by Dexter Lawrence, had six sacks and made a last-minute save 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 for a 15-yard score and added a 32-yard pass play to Saquon Barkley as New York (2-5) scored his first two offensive touchdowns of the first half of the season. He finished 18 of 29 for 279 yards.
Brian Robinson Jr. had a 4-yard run for Washington (3-4) early in the third quarter after Giants veteran Sterling Shepard muffed a punt and the Commandos, who were limited to 46 yards in the first half, rallied 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 good right now,” said linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux, who had 1 1/2 sacks and dropped a safe pick-6 at the Washington 15 in the third quarter. “We’ve held teams to 21 points in the last two games. I think the guys are doing their jobs and not making things 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 look out for each other,” he said. “In one game, the defense might not play well and the offense will keep us safe. I think it’s just a collective thing. And we just have to keep fighting and keep growing.”
The Giants, who were a disappointment after reaching the playoffs last season, had to make one more play after Barkley lost a fumble at the Washington 5. Sam Howell led Washington to a first-and-10 at the New York 12. On fourth-and-5 from 7-yard line, his pass was short behind Jahan Dotson and the receiver failed to make the catch.
“That last play I had to make it easy on Jahan,” said Howell, who finished 22 of 42 for 249 yards. “A lot of people will probably say he should have caught it. I have to give him a better ball. It was wide open.
The loss was the fourth in five games for the Commanders. The game ended when Washington kicker Darren Payne was injured on a third down by Taylor. With the commanders running out of timeouts, the clock expired.
“Going down 0-2 in the division is tough because to make the playoffs, to achieve the goals you want to achieve, you have 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 don’t.”
Each team missed a field goal chance. Graham Gano missed a 42-yarder for New York in the first quarter, and Washington’s Joey Sly had a 27-yarder blocked by Leonard Williams early in the fourth quarter.
The Giants’ offense ended a 205-minute scoreless streak in games spanning more than three games — more than 14 2/3 quarters — with Waller’s third goal 42 seconds into the second quarter. It came after Washington coach Ron Rivera elected to call 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 got out of linebacker Jamin Davis’ paint after catching a short pass. It came two plays after rookie Deonte Banks intercepted Howell at the Giants’ 31.
AS THE O-LINE TURNS OVER
With right tackle Evan Neal joining left tackle Andrew Thomas and center John Michael Schmitz among the injured, the Giants changed their starting lineup for the sixth time in seven games.
The new line was Justin Pugh at left guard, Marcus McKethan at left guard, Ben Bredesen at center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Tyre Phillips at right guard. 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 exited 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 bragging rights game at MetLife Stadium.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl