The New York Giants' hopes for a second straight playoff berth got a boost from a record-tying comeback in the second game of the season.
Instead of being 0-2 heading into a Thursday night game against the talented San Francisco 49ers (2-0), the Giants (1-1) seemed to get back on track by rallying from a 21-point second-half deficit to beat the Arizona Cardinals 31-28 on Sunday.
There are many who think the comeback orchestrated by Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley saved New York's season, at least for now.
The Giants were awful in a season-opening 40-0 loss to Dallas, and their first 30 minutes in Week 2 were just as bad. New York allowed Arizona to take a 20-0 halftime lead and a 28-7 advantage in the third quarter.
Had the trend continued, the odds would have been against Brian Daboll's team in 2023. Not only are they facing the 49ers on three days' rest, they have Seattle, Miami and Buffalo — all playoff teams last year — after that.
Daboll refused to think about what would have been if New York had not rallied.
“We’re not 0-2, we’re 1-1,” he said Monday. “So our mindset is get back to work and have a good week.”
The Giants outscored the Cardinals 31-8 in the second half, including the last 24 points. New York ended it with a 34-yard field goal by Graham Gano.
It was the first time the Giants were shut out in the first six quarters since 1934. They also became the first team to give up 60 points before scoring since the 1978 Baltimore Colts, who gave up 86 points.
Tight end Darren Waller, who led the Giants with six catches for 76 yards, said he has been through highs and lows on and off the field. He said it's easy to play when things are going well.
“Guys come together and that’s what I respect the most out of men in life, not only just football players,” Waller said. "Seeing that really lights me up.”
It remains to be seen if the high can carry over against one of the NFL's top teams on Thursday night.
Jones. The $160 million quarterback woke up the Giants in the second half. Jones was 26 of 37 for 321 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 59 yards and a TD. Down 20-0, Jones completed 17 of 21 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The pass rush has been nonexistent in the first two games. New York has nine quarterback hits and no sacks. Dallas' offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, but Arizona's is not, and even an occasional blitz didn't help.
Second-year offensive linemen Josh Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan both played well after being inserted into the starting lineup. Ezeudu replaced the injured Andrew Thomas (hamstring) at left tackle and McKethan took over for benched Mark Glowinski at right guard.
Glowinski had to fill in at left guard when Ben Bredeson had a concussion. After the first play, he did well, too.
After giving up seven sacks and 12 QB hits to Dallas, the line allowed three sacks and five quarterback hits as New York gained 439 yards against Arizona.
Edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 draft had a second straight game where he was hard to find. He is supposed to be emerging as an impact player in his second season. He has one solo tackle and three assists in two games. He has no sacks and the Giants have no sacks.
Barkley, who ran for a TD and caught a TD pass, has to be considered doubtful after spraining his ankle late in the game. The same is probably true with Bredeson, who sustained a concussion in the second half. Left tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring) and edge rusher Azeez Ojulari (hamstring) were inactive Sunday, so it might be better to let them rest and prepare to face the Seahawks on Oct. 2.
21 and 31: After being outscored 60-0 in the opening six quarters of the season, the Giants showed up for the second half. The offense scored on every possession, putting up 31 points and rallying from a 21-point deficit. The defense allowed eight points, a TD and 2-point conversion, and stopped the Cardinals cold on the final three series. The 21-point comeback matched the best in franchise history, the last time in 1949.
The Giants are staying in Tempe, Arizona, and having walkthroughs to prepare for Thursday night in Santa Clara, California, against the Niners. New York does not play after that until Monday, Oct. 2, against Seattle.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl
Tom Canavan, The Associated Press