All it took was 30 minutes for the New York Giants to get their 2023 season on track, pulling off their largest comeback win since 1949 by overturning deficits of 20-0 and 28-7 to defeat the Arizona Cardinals 31-28 on Sunday in Glendale.
In no way have Big Blue’s problems gone away — the first 30 minutes were nearly as dreadful as last week’s 40-0 disaster against the Dallas Cowboys — but a historic win potentially provides a springboard for the rest of the season.
Here are five of the biggest takeaways from a big win in Arizona:
A season-saving win?
Through six quarters of their season, the Giants had been outscored 60-0 by their opponents and were entering the half trailing the Cardinals by a score of 20-0. Staring in the face of another abysmal loss, New York’s season appeared to be on the brink of spiraling out of control. They head to Santa Clara for a Thursday night matchup against the dangerous San Francisco 49ers before road matchups with the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills in Weeks 5 and 6.
Instead of heading into San Francisco with an 0-2 record, the Giants are at .500 with the momentum and belief that comes from a dramatic victory.
Daniel Jones goes off
After being held to 104 yards and two interceptions against the Cowboys, Jones had another miserable first half against the Cardinals, completing just 9-of-16 passes for 62 yards and a pick. But with a more aggressive approach in the second half, the Giants’ quarterback woke up, completing 17-of-21 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for an additional 58 yards and a touchdown to help complete the comeback.
He became the first quarterback in NFL history to record 250 or more yards passing, 50-plus yards rushing, throw for multiple touchdown passes, and rush for a touchdown with zero turnovers in a single second half, according to OptaStats.
Perhaps the sky isn’t falling, after all. But it certainly helps when he’s given time to make a play. A tweaked offensive line without Andrew Thomas and Ben Bredeson did more than enough to hold up, allowing just three sacks compared to seven last week.
Saquon Barkley’s health
It wasn’t all good for the Giants on Sunday night. On the drive to set up Graham Gano’s game-winning field goal, star running back Saquon Barkley injured his ankle after he was bent in half by two Cardinals defenders. He was helped off the field by two trainers and was seen slamming his helmet in frustration — a sign that doesn’t suggest everything is OK.
ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reported that Barkley underwent imaging and was seen walking around the Giants locker room with a limp and tape on the ankle. He posted 89 total yards and a score in the win.
Given his previous injury history, there will be an abundance of concern about the 26-year-old running back’s availability moving forward. He’s the second-most important piece of New York’s attack behind Jones and still one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL.
Jalin Hyatt has it
The third-round pick out of Tennessee showed just what he’s capable of doing on the outside for the Giants, who have sorely lacked a legitimate big-play-maker for years, now. His 58-yard reception on the first play of the second half immediately turned the game on its head and lent the first suggestion that the Giants offense can stabilize. He then reeled in a vital 31-yard catch on the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.
Defense still has work to do
The Giants’ defense was walked over by the Cardinals and quarterback Josh Dobbs in the first half to help create that early deficit. The pass rush is non-existent and they’ve yet to record a sack this season, but when it mattered most, they answered the call.
Wink Martindale’s unit forced three consecutive Cardinals punts in the second half, which were all answered by Giants touchdowns to tie the game. That included two three-and-outs to preserve as much clock as possible.
Against a better offense, they likely wouldn’t be as lucky, but it’s at least a step in the right direction for a unit that looked lost for six quarters.