Joe Judge Secures First Win as Giants Head Coach


Daniel Jones (above) helped lead the Giants to their first win of 2020 on Sunday. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Stephen Lebitsch, Staff Writer

From the minute Joe Judge took over the head coaching reins in East Rutherford, after years of working behind two of the greats in Saban and Belichick, the Giants have consistently preached about how great a coach he is. The players love to play for him because he can rally a team in the locker room and on the practice field, yet that rallying did not occur on the football field on Sundays. Through five weeks marked by close margin losses, the Giants wanted to win a game — not just for themselves, but for their coach. 

On Sunday, against Ron Rivera, one of the most well-respected coaches in the league, and the Washington Football Team, Big Blue finally did that by the skin of their teeth. Behind a 49-yard keep and run by Daniel Jones and a huge fumble recovery by “Mr. Irrelevant” Tae Crowder, the New York Giants held off Washington 20-19 to secure their first win of the season. 

Like the previous game against the Dallas Cowboys, it was a nail-biting affair that came down to the last minute and last drive. Washington quarterback Kyle Allen connected with receiver Cam Sims with 36 seconds remaining in regulation to cut the deficit to one point. Setting up a “here we go again” moment for Giants fans, Washington attempted a two-point conversion, but it was unsuccessful as the Giants defensive line forced enough pressure on Allen to throw a dud pass. 

For the first time this season, the Giants walked off the field with an air of positivity, in celebration instead of painful defeat. The final score was not pretty for sure, and they were dangerously close to 0-6. Still, a win is a win. Joe Judge got the game ball and obligatory first win Gatorade shower, and the Giants are now 1-5 in an NFC East division with the leader, the Cowboys, holding only two wins. 

“Overall, I’m proud of the way our team competed for 60 minutes,” Judge said after the game. “We talked about it on the front end, there’s things we had to do, and we had to play our style of ball. Sometimes you got to make it a little grimy, but I’m proud of the way they played and I’m proud that the guys get to see some tangible results for their work because they’ve been working hard.”

Daniel Jones finished 12-19 in the passing game with 112 yards to go along with a passing touchdown and an interception. He also led the team in rushing with two carries for 74 yards. Wide receiver Darius Slayton, who’s become a nice piece out of the fifth round, led receivers with two receptions for 41 yards and a receiving touchdown. 

Following an early missed field goal by Washington, the Giants took a 3-0 lead off a 33-yard field goal by Graham Gano. Gano has been solid for the team this season, making field goals from over 50 yards out and contributing heavily to the offense. 

On the ensuing Washington possession, Kyle Allen threw a pass straight to Giants corner James Bradberry, who easily intercepted it to set the Giants up in prime red zone territory. Despite the red zone being their Achilles’ heel, Daniel Jones threw a beautiful dime pass to Darius Slayton for a 23-yard touchdown to go up 10-0. 

Washington tightened things up in the second quarter with a Dustin Hopkins field goal and a late quarter touchdown by Logan Thomas to make it 13-10 New York heading into halftime. 

Dustin Hopkins hit another field goal to tie things up at 13-13, and that moment in the game was where Giants fans had cause for concern. The offense had gone silent, and the defense was trying to hold things up for as long as possible. They needed a big play to change the game’s tide, and they got one from an unpredictable face. 

Kyler Fackrell, the ex-Green Bay Packer who came over with fellow linebacker Blake Martinez in free agency, knocked the ball loose from Kyle Allen’s hands on a sack attempt on the Washington side of the field. The ball rolled along the turf for a few seconds before it was picked up by none other than Tae Crowder, the 255th overall pick in the 2020 draft, who returned it 43 yards for the score. Crowder has long touted himself as “Mr. Irrelevant” because of where he was picked, but he became a name everyone recognized on that play. 

The final score read Giants 20, Washington 19, and it was rough sailing to the finish, but as Joe Judge described it, the team made it through the game’s “storm.” 

For Daniel Jones, securing his fourth win since taking over at starting quarterback last season, the team’s message is simple: Build on this. 

“It’s exciting to get the result when we feel like we’ve battled in all these games and been close, to finally get the result now is a rewarding feeling,” Jones said. “Gotta go build on it going forward, learn from the things we didn’t do well and build on the things we did do well.”

The Giants will look to build on Sunday’s win amid a quick turnaround as they head to Philadelphia to face the Eagles on Thursday night. It is another critical division matchup and a very winnable game, so the Giants’ performance will need to translate to primetime.