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New York Giants’ heroes from Broncos win critical as season progresses

Evan Engram is fifth among NFL tight ends in receiving yards, with 282 in his rookie campaign. / Getty Images / Dustin Bradford

The New York Giants that entered 2017 with championship aspirations is gone. Their 0-5 start made sure of that.

But last Sunday’s surprising 23-10 victory over the Broncos in Denver showed that the current alignment of Big Blue has a few tricks up its sleeve. Giants fans — at least the ones not rooting for a draft-minded tank job — surely hope to see more of that Sunday afternoon when the Seattle Seahawks visit MetLife Stadium.

Last week’s win shined the spotlight on who the Giants may lean on the rest of the way. Here’s a look at three such players, and how much can be expected of them going forward.

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Evan Engram

After quarterback Eli Manning lost his four best receivers — three for the season — his rookie tight end became the top option by default.

Fortunately, the first-rounder has produced like a veteran thus far. Engram ranks fifth at his position in receiving yards (282) and tied for sixth in receptions (24). Against the Broncos, he hauled in a team-high five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.

Orleans Darkwa

Asked to carry the load on the ground for the first time in his four-year career, the running back delivered in Denver. He carried 21 times for 117 yards, include a 47-yard scoot that helped set up the Giants’ only offensive TD.

Long buried in the depth chart, a performance like that from the 25-year-old Darkwa against a stout Broncos defense could go a long way to securing the starting running back role long-term.

Jason Pierre-Paul

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The JPP of old showed up in a big way Sunday, sacking quarterback Trevor Siemian three times and forcing a fumble.

The multitalented Pierre-Paul entered the season with just eight total sacks the past two years after his Fourth of July 2015 fireworks accident disfigured his right hand. With his tally now at 4.5 for 2017, adding a third double-digit sack season to his ledger would be a major boost to Big Blue’s pass rush.