Giants defense forces 6 turnovers, DeVito throws 3 TDs in 31-19 win over Commanders

Giants Commanders
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrating his touchdown against the Washington Commanders with quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Actions have always spoken louder than words — and the New York Giants made a resilient statement against the notion of tanking on Sunday afternoon in Landover, MD.

New York’s defense came up with six turnovers, the largest being the final one while trying to hold onto a five-point lead with 29 seconds left in the game — Isaiah Simmons picked off a desperate Sam Howell attempt to throw it away under pressure and returned it 54 yards for a game-icing pick-six in a 31-19 victory in Week 11 action.

It was the first time since Sept. of 2014 against this very same Washington franchise that the Giants’ defense recorded six turnovers in a game.

Quarterback Tommy DeVito overcame nine sacks to pass for three touchdowns — two of them to Saquon Barkley — as the Giants (3-8) for the first time ever won a game while yielding eight or more sacks. They also snapped a three-game losing streak in which they were outscored 92-33.

“We know we haven’t been performing the way we should be performing the last couple weeks,” Barkley told FOX after the game. “So we took that personal.”

DeVito passed for 246 yards while completing 18-of-26 passes in his first career victory as a starting quarterback, stepping up for a Giants offense that was averaging fewer than 12 points this season and expected to rely heavily on Barkley and the ground game. But while Barkley posted 67 of his 83 yards rushing on two carries, he became the first Giants player with multiple receiving touchdowns in a game since Darius Slayton in 2020, reeling in four catches for 57 yards.

The defense, however, stole the show, as their six turnovers translated directly to 24 of the Giants’ 31 points on Sunday.

Giants Commanders Lawrence Howell
Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) throwing the ball over New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence II (97) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

They got out to a quick start, forcing two turnovers on the Commanders’ (4-7) first two drives to help set the table for a rare showing of early offensive competence.

Nick McCloud intercepted a deep Howell pass attempt on Washington’s fourth play from scrimmage, but the Giants went three-and-out. Cor’Dale Flott then punched the ball out of Commanders tight end Logan Thomas’ grasp, which was picked up by Xavier McKinney on the Washington 45-yard-line.

While DeVito was sacked three times on New York’s first 10 plays of the game, two big receptions got Big Blue into the end zone following the McKinney recovery. DeVito hit Slayton for a 24-yard completion before connecting with Barkley on a wheel route on the right side of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown with 6:29 remaining in the first quarter.

Not only was it the Giants’ first lead since the second half of a Week 8 loss against the Jets, but it was their first first-quarter touchdown scored all season.

Tommy DeVito
New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito (15) scrambles out of the pocket as he is chased by Washington Commanders defensive end Casey Toohill (95) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

The Commanders marched 70 yards down to the Giants’ 5-yard-line in just five plays on their ensuing drive, but New York’s defense held firm in the red zone, limiting the hosts to a field goal.

Despite the early touchdown, the same problems continued to plague the Giants. DeVito was sacked five times in the first quarter alone as he had problems getting the ball out quickly. That was the first time that’s happened in an NFL game since 2006.

But DeVito adjusted to get the ball out sooner, and the Giants pieced together another first-half touchdown drive to take a 14-3 lead. Going 62 yards on six plays in under three minutes, a Slayton pick route across the middle left the wide receiver wide open on a 3rd-&-1 play, going 40 yards for the score down the left sideline with 5:58 remaining in the second quarter.

It was Slayton’s largest contribution of the day, which ended early. He suffered an arm injury that forced him out for the entirety of the second half.

Washington punched back quickly, though, poaching a touchdown with 1:30 left in the half when Howell scrambled in from eight yards out, though the play would end with a brawl leading to the ejections of Flott and Washington playmaker Curtis Samuel.

Howell McKinney Giants
Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) is hit by New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) as he scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Landover, Md. Also on the field is Washington Commanders wide receiver Curtis Samuel (4). (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Giants continued to force Commanders turnovers, jarring the ball loose from Byron Pringle on the opening kick-off of the second half — but the sack problems re-emerged. DeVito was brought down twice in three plays to take New York out of field-goal range and bring the sack count up to eight at that point.

Washington followed with a 13-play, 68-yard drive that took off 7:37 of the clock, but was stymied by the Giants’ defense in the red zone and had to settle, again, for a field goal to cut New York’s lead to two with 5:43 to go in the third.  

Following a ninth sack of DeVito and a quick Giants punt, the Commanders were well on their way toward more points by driving down to the New York 35-yard-line when running back Chris Rodriguez had the ball stripped by linebacker Bobby Okereke. Linebacker Micah McFadden came up with the loose ball to come up with the Giants’ fourth turnover of the afternoon to keep the slim advantage intact.

On the first play following the turnover, Barkley ripped a 36-yard run to get the Giants into plus territory as the third quarter expired. Four plays later, Barkley was diving over the goal line for his second touchdown of the game, a five-yard reception from DeVito to re-open a two-possession advantage at 21-12 with 13:32 remaining. 

Darnay Holmes, who stepped in for the ejected Flott, came down with the Giants’ fifth turnover with 11 minutes to go in the game, reeling in a deep Howell hoper in the face of pressure. It led to a Randy Bullock 36-yard field goal to put the visitors up 12 with 6:48 left.

Two costly penalties extended a Commanders drive that resulted in six, Howell hitting Jahan Dotson from eight yards out to bring Washington back to within five with 2:16 to go.

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