Let’s break it down
The New York Giants were humbled in New Orleans on Sunday as their three-game winning streak was ended by the Saints. Derek Carr and the Saints efficiently – and effectively – picked apart the Giants defense as Tommy DeVito was harassed all game. The Giants only mustered 193 yards in their 24-6 loss.
Carr finished 23 of 28 passing for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Alvin Kamara enjoyed 44 of those yards on five catches, as he earned 66 yards on the ground through 16 carries; Kamara was the leading receiver.
Carr distributed the football to ten different Saints receivers, with touchdown receptions from 37 year old Jimmy Graham, Keith Kirkwood, and Juwan Johnson.
DeVito was sacked seven times by the Saints defense. Saquon Barkley found little rushing room and only had 14 yards on nine carries, and several Giants receivers dropped the football through the game. The Giants were flat and figured out in the game.
Here are five plays, or sequences of plays, that led to the Giants’ ninth loss of the year.
Play(s) 1: Saints’ first TD drive
The game didn’t necessarily start terribly for the Giants. They received the football and were able to boot a 56-yard field goal after a nine-play, 37-yard, drive to try and quell the hostile crowd noise. The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out that was matched by the Giants’ offense.
New York’s defense had the Saints offense in a third-and-5 situation at the Saints 37-yard-line – they couldn’t get a stop:
The Saints took advantage of the zone defense by running a weakside drag behind the back of Bobby Okereke (58) who was bailing off the line of scrimmage toward the three receiver set. When the Giants bail to zone after crowding the line of scrimmage, the middle hook defender typically always turns toward the passing strength; the drag route took advantage of that, and the result was a first down.
Derek Carr finds Keith Kirkwood for the touchdown.
Saints take a 7-3 lead over the Giants before the end of the 1st quarter. pic.twitter.com/F4hyzLKYlv
— Doug Rush (@TheDougRush) December 17, 2023
The Saints capitalized with their first touchdown of the game on their next third down. Keith Kirkwood found space in the middle of the field for the score, as Carr did a fantastic job stepping into the pocket to avoid pressure.
Play(s) 2: Saints’ first drive of second-half
The Giants only trailed by one point at half-time. With the score just 7-6, the Saints drove the football down the field on a 10-play, 68-yard, drive that resulted in a 23-yard touchdown reception to Juwan Johnson. A dubious Adoree’ Jackson defensive holding penalty extended the Saints’ drive on a third-and-7. Here’s the touchdown:
Carr finds Juwan Johnson as he steps into the end zone! TD @Saints
— NFL (@NFL) December 17, 2023
Johnson got lost in the secondary as he faked flat with company and went vertical, riding solo, making Jason Derulo proud. Carr opened the middle of the field up with his slight fake upon snapping the football. Even though the game was still a one-score affair, it appeared like this was the dagger.
Play 3: Jimmy Graham, why not?
Jimmy Graham TDs in the Dome – a beautiful thing
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 17, 2023
For the third straight week, 37-year-old Jimmy Graham caught a touchdown pass. After two consecutive Giants’ second-half three-and-out drives, the Saints led this 11-play, 65-yard drive, that resulted in Graham’s touchdown off the play action pass. Isaiah Simmons (19) had to react to the full-back, which opened up space for Graham behind; Micah McFadden (41) could not get lateral to the outside to account for the corner route.
Play 4: Rasheed Shaheed
The Saints were without Chris Olave, but the return of speedster Rasheed Shaheed was welcomed for New Orleans. On the Saints first second-half drive, the Giants forced them into a second-and-twenty after a holding penalty. Again, the score was just 7-6 at this point, but the Giants defense could not contain Shaheed:
Plays like the one above were common in the Giants’ loss. The Saints operated in rhythm and their receivers utilized excellent spatial awareness to find the soft-spots in the Giants’ zone defense. Shaheed sat just before the sticks, in front of Deonte Banks (25) and in-between Jihad Ward (55), Xavier McKinney (29), and Bobby Okereke (58). This extended the Saints drive, and Johnson was the beneficiary of a touchdown shortly after.
Play(s) 5: Missed opportunity
New York’s longest drive (other than their last one) was in the second quarter and was sparked by Darren Waller’s 29-yard gain on third-and-12. The Giants found themselves in field goal range – perhaps even for their all-star kicker Jamie Gillan. At the Saints’ 36-yard-line, the Giants found themselves in a second-and-11, but DeVito failed to find Darius Slayton (86) on the fade:
DeVito’s ball sailed a bit, but it did hit Slayton in the hands as the receiver attempted to adjust backshoulder. Regardless, the Giants were now facing a third-and-11 without their actual kicker, Randy Bullock. The Saints sacked DeVito, which knocked the Giants out of field goal range.
Surrendering sacks and failing to pick up stunts/twists have become synonymous with the Giants in recent memory. New York punted, got the football back, and was able to kick a field goal at the end of the half. That was the time they would score in the game.