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December 12, 2018

Leonard: 3 keys to a Giants win over the Texans

September 29, 2018

HOUSTON — The Giants are desperate.

So are the Texans.




Two 0-2 teams scrambling to save their seasons. Only one will find hope Sunday at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

Pat Shurmur’s Giants are coming off a lifeless offensive performance in Dallas.

Here are three keys to getting their first win of the season and Shurmur’s first as Giants head coach.

SCORE A TOUCHDOWN BEFORE THE FOURTH QUARTER

The Giants have scored only two touchdowns in two games, both in the fourth quarter: a 68-yard Saquon Barkley run with 10:39 remaining in Week 1 against Jacksonville, and an 18-yard Eli Manning pass to Evan Engram with 1:27 to play Week 2 in Dallas.

Saquon Barkley has one of the Giants touchdowns through two weeks. (Mike Lawrie / Getty Images)

“We just have to make sure we get the ball in the end zone in the first half, that’s just it,” Shurmur said Friday.

The Giants offense had 95 net yards and six points in the first half against the Jaguars, then regressed to 79 net yards and zero points in the first half in Dallas. If Eli Manning’s offense replicates this lack of production in Houston, the result will be exactly the same. The Giants are averaging a measly 14 points per game.

TRUMP TEXANS’ STARS WITH GIANTS’ OWN

Here is how to beat a team with Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt: lean on Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley and Landon Collins. The Texans have some imposing stars. The Giants do, too. Manning needs to get his top receiver the ball, though, and Shurmur needs to find Barkley space to operate. Losing a game is one thing, but losing in Dallas without getting Beckham involved hardly at all was unacceptable. If the Giants are going to go down, they must go down knowing that they gave Beckham, Barkley and Collins on defense every opportunity to make game-changing plays, whether they’re touchdowns or turnovers forced. The defense will have its hands full, especially with Watson’s scrambling ability and the deep threats of Hopkins and Will Fuller (and CB Eli Apple out).

MAKE THE THROWS AND THE BLOCKS

Dave Gettleman’s struggling offensive line gave up six sacks last week in Dallas and now faces an even better defensive front led by Texans three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney and linebacker Whitney Mercilus. And the Giants are now anchored by a backup center in John Greco. So far, Manning has made barely any plays when he’s had time to throw downfield, and he hasn’t had a chance on many other snaps due to poor blocking by the O-line, tight ends and backs. Manning, 37, a two-time Super Bowl winner, needs to make a play, and so do the men in front of him.

INJURY REPORT

Giants: LB Olivier Vernon (ankle) and CB Eli Apple (groin) are out.

Texans: CB Kayvon Webster (Achilles) is out. WRs Sammie Coates Jr. (hamstring) and Keke Coutee (hamstring) and TE Jordan Thomas (hip) are questionable.







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