What can the numbers tell us about the Giants’ Week 9 win?
This wasn’t a “pretty” win or a complete game by any measure. The Giants’ offense and defense switched roles from how teams normally win games in the modern NFL. In the case of this game, the Giants’ defense scored the game-deciding points and knocked the opposing team out of contention, while the offense did enough for the Giants to hang around.
The Giants now get to look forward to a much-needed week off before starting the stretch to end the season. Before we all settle into our bye week, let’s take a quick look at the numbers from the game.
The Giants seemed to want to run their offense through Evan Engram and Devontae Booker. Engram lead the Giants in receiving yards with 38 (and a touchdown), while Booker lead the team in total yardage with 122. It’s fitting that they also lead the team in snaps played.
What’s surprising is to see Kyle Rudolph, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Darius Slayton all with 31 snaps played — pretty closely followed by Collin Johnson at 21 snaps.
It would be interesting to know just how healthy Golladay and Toney are, as the two combined for all of three receptions against the Raiders. But it’s clear that the Giants wanted to lead with their running game against the Raiders’ soft run defense, and try to use Engram to exploit the weaknesses in their Cover 3 defense.
The rest of the offense seems to be ancillary to those objectives.
As with the offensive snap counts, the Giants’ defensive snap count reveals some interesting decisions.
They were clearly leaning into their nickel sets, playing three corners on nearly two-thirds of the snaps. Taking things a step further, they were clearly more interested in containing Derek Carr and the Raiders’ passing game, with Dexter Lawrence II and Austin Johnson averaging about half the defensive snaps between, while Tae Crowder was the only off-ball linebacker to see more than half the snaps.
It’s also something of a surprise to see Trent Harris get 35 percent of the defensive snaps, though not surprising at all to see him play 81 percent of the special teams snaps.
Stats of note
Normally for these sorts of topics we focus on the offensive stats from the game. However, there really isn’t much there for the Giants’ offense. The Giants got production on the ground, but that’s pretty much expected considering the Raiders’ run defense is pretty porous. The Giants’ passing offense was just… kinda… there. The average pass traveled just 10 feet downfield in the air, and Evan Engram’s 30-yard touchdown catch made him the team’s leading receiver.
Considering the two teams scored the same 16 offensive points, this game was absolutely won by the defense.
The obvious hero of the game was Xavier McKinney, who’s two interceptions not only directly provided the game-deciding touchdown, but also forced the the second-worst game of the year for Derek Carr.
As the Raiders showed on the drive after McKinney’s touchdown, they were fully capable of engineering a methodical drive down the field. Had McKinney not made that first interception and the Raiders executed a methodical drive down the field, eating the clock and extending their 13-10 lead, this game might have ended differently.
The game also hinged on the repeated missed connections between Carr and tight end Darren Waller. Carr had four opportunities in three possessions over the course of the second and third quarters to score touchdowns with Waller in the endzone. Instead of touchdowns, Carr either didn’t see Waller or threw poor passes his way, leading to field goals. All told, the Raiders left 12 points on the field by settling for field goals on those trips to the red zone.
As I wrote immediately after the game, the Giants’ Red Zone defense was a massive factor in deciding the game. While McKinney’s interception return for a touchdown was the difference on the scoreboard, the Raiders’ inability to score touchdowns kept the Giants in the game until the end.
All told, the Raiders were in scoring position six times against the Giants. Those possessions ended in one touchdown, three field goals, a missed field goal, and a game-ending sack fumble.
As with the Giants’ offense, the Raiders ran well against the Giants’ defense, but their passing offense was just inefficient for the purposes of putting points on the board. Most of their passes were less than 10 yards downfield, and Carr completed 26 of 33 total passes (78.8 percent) from the backfield to the 10-yard line. It was beyond the 10-yard line where their offense just fell apart. Carr attempted 13 passes of 10+ yards down the field and completed just 4 of them, with an interception.
And it wasn’t as though the Giants were applying a tremendous amount of pressure on Carr.
Overall, most of the Giants’ pass rush barely got within league-average distance from Carr and the Giants only registered one sack against the Raiders, courtesy of rookie Quincy Roche.
That one sack, which ended the game, turned out to be the Giants’ second-fastest sack of the season at 2.9 seconds. Roche’s 2.9-second sack is only just edged out by Azeez Ojulari’s 2.8 second sack on an unblocked rush against the Atlanta Falcons back in Week 4.
The Giants needed to be quick into the backfield, too. Carr had been getting rid of the ball in an average of 2.77 seconds, per NFL NextGenStats. Continuing to improve the pass rush should be something Patrick Graham looks at over the bye week, as the Raiders have a poor pass protecting offensive line, ranking 27th in team Pass Block Win Rate per ESPN.