LONDON — It was really hard to tell whether or not the New York Giants were legitimately good this year heading into Week 5. After four games and a surprising 3-1 record, the team showed flashes on both sides of the ball but only averaged fewer than 20 points per game.
But the 27-22 win over the Green Bay Packers in a pro-Packers Tottenham Hotspur Stadium silenced the doubt. For now, at least.
Saquon Barkley was electric despite leaving briefly with a shoulder injury, Daniel Jones served one of the most efficient games in his career, and the defense found a way to slow down Aaron Rodgers and hold the Packers offense to no points in the second half.
This was also a statement win for Brian Daboll, even though he wouldn’t say it after the game. The first-year head coach has found a way to unlock the once-downtrodden Giants and deliver important wins early in the season. While Barkley is a star in his own right, Jones hasn’t be able to brush off the questions about his ability, but that perception could change after Week 5. He completed 77.8 percent of his passes for 217 yards with just one sack and no turnovers. Jones also rushed 10 times for 37 yards.
“He have confidence in him and he’s done a really good job for our football team,” Daboll said. “He does what we ask him to do and he does it really well.”
Daboll will get most of credit, but offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale deserve recognition for their individual game plans.
After a few listless offensive drives, Kafka drew up two creative plays to spark the Giants’ scoring in the second quarter. First, a direct snap to Barkley out of the wildcat formation that turned into a 40-yard scamper in the second quarter.
Soon after, Kafka dialed up a double reverse with Jones tossing to Barkley who tossed to tight end Daniel Bellinger, who ran it in himself for the score.
Call it a Kafkaesque Philly Special. Or something with a London theme. Either way, it worked, and the Giants added more wrinkles to their offense throughout the night until Barkley scored the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth out of the same wildcat formation.
"I think he's creative," Jones said of his OC. "I think he has a good sense for when to take a shot and when to not. He's done a great job."
On the defensive side, Martindale found a way to shut down the Packers' run game and keep Rodgers on his toes throughout the game. He threw out some exotic blitz schemes to stifle Rodgers early, but the Packers star managed to find gaps in the second and third levels of the defense to help Green Bay jump out to a 20-10 halftime lead. The Packers' offense didn't score again, though, and only managed 105 second-half yards.
“We’re a resilient group,” Giants safety Julian Love said.” We felt like on defense we let them have a few. We made some adjustments at half that we felt great about.”
The cherry on top of New York was a red zone stop to effectively end the game late in the fourth. Facing third-and-1 from their own six-yard line, the Giants batted two Rodgers’ passing attempts to end the drive and keep the lead with 65 seconds left. The Packers had one last shot as the game clock expired, but linebacker Oshane Ximines' sack on Rodgers sealed it for good.
This Giants team will likely need to stack big wins to keep the doubters at bay. But for now, New York showed the rest of the league they can hang with — and beat — some of the best.
“I think we’ve always had confidence in our group," Jones said. "We believe in ourselves. But how the outside or the other people view us, I don't think it concerned us. We played a great game today and continue to build confidence.”