Kudos to …
Sterling Shepard — The only Giant draft pick on the current roster who has played in a playoff game helped show the way on Sunday. Shepard ran for a 23-yard score on a reverse, caught a 10-yard touchdown pass and caught eight passes for a season-high 112 yards.
“Just make plays. It’s as simple as that,” is how Shepard described his mindset. “We’re a skill group that is out there to make big plays. That’s all I wanted to do. Whatever I could do to help the team.”
Leonard Williams — Williams picked a great time for the first three-sack game of his career. He also had 7 tackles, 3 for loss, 5 quarterback hits, a pass defensed and a pressure that led to Xavier McKinney’s interception on the final Dallas possession of the game.
Williams is going to get a massive payday this offseason. It better be from the Giants.
Leonard Williams strung three incredibly impressive plays together to hold Dallas to 3 points after Gallman’s first fumble…Huge sequence from the impending free agent. pic.twitter.com/gbpZp0u9WK
— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) January 3, 2021
Xavier McKinney — The rookie safety made a huge play, picking off a desperation heave to the end zone by Andy Dalton that was headed for Cowboy tight end Dalton Schultz. McKinney had 8 tackles, one for loss, and a pass defensed.
Offensive line — The Giants’ offensive line gave Daniel Jones time all day. He was sacked once and hit six times. There were also some holes for Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris, when the Giants remembered to use the run game.
Daniel Jones — The stats aren’t overwhelming — 17 of 25, 229 yards, 2 TDs, an interception, a fumble, 17 yards rushing. Jones, though, met the challenge of playing well in what was to this point the biggest game of his fledgling NFL career.
Dante Pettis — The San Francisco 49ers reject made two big plays for the Giants on Sunday. Pettis had a 33-yard touchdown grab and 10-yard catch that set up Graham Gano’s 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Julian Love — Aside from dropping what should have been an interception, Love played a solid game starting at outside cornerback in place of Isaac Yiadom. Love had 7 tackles and a pass breakup. His presence on the outside, along with Darnay Holmes’ return in the slot, allowed the Giants to play more man-to-man defense than they normally do.
Jabrill Peppers’ punt returning — Peppers had punt returns of 20 and 19 yards, the first time in a while he has really made plays for the Giants in the return game. Unfortunately, the Giants could not turn either of those solid returns into points.
Wet Willies to …
Evan Engram — Two more awful, inexcusable drops on well-thrown balls that should be easily catchable for an NFL tight end. Especially a Pro Bowl tight end. One of those drops, of course, turned into the sixth interception on a pass targeting Engram this season. The frustrating thing about Engram is that for every splash play he makes that helps the Giants, he makes at least as many that hurt them. He is the walking definition of a “Kwillie.”
Riley Dixon — I don’t know what is going on with Dixon, but he hasn’t been nearly as good the last few games as he was in 2019, or in the first half of this season. He didn’t come close on a pair of opportunities to pin Dallas deep on Sunday.
Dion Lewis — The veteran running back did not fumble this week while executing kickoff return duties, but he did not make any plays, either. It is brutally obvious that teams have been kicking off in such a manner as to force Lewis to return the ball. He averaged 21.0 yards on three returns Sunday. Lewis has had a couple of good returns this season, but he just doesn’t give the Giants much in that role.
Doug Pederson — Passing up a chip-shot game-tying field goal? Even worse, basically handing Washington the division by playing Nate Sudfeld at quarterback in the fourth quarter? To think, Giants fans actually gave up sleep in the hopes that the Philadelphia Eagles would defeat Washington on Sunday night.
Kwillie to …
Graham Gano — His 50-yard field goal late in Sunday’s game provided points the Giants desperately needed. Still, that first-quarter missed extra point might be the ugliest missed extra point I have ever seen from a kicker above the high school level. What the heck happened there?