Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Blue-Collar Revival

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Blue-Collar Revival

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD -- Eli Manning made his way through the locker room following Sunday's 30-17 victory over the Texans, stopping with a fist bump at every stall occupied by one of his offensive linemen, delivering the same message each time.

"Big time," Manning said. "Way to dominate."

The Giants did indeed dominate, and believe it or not, nowhere more than up front, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Their first September win since 2012 was a product of execution and physicality, the continued presence of a pass rush led by Jason Pierre-Paul that might just be feared again and the unexpected emergence of an offensive line that just might be capable of providing Manning with a chance to rebound, after all.

Houston's $100 million star defensive end J.J. Watt was supposed to take turns humiliating whichever overmatched Giants lineman against whom he chose to line up.

The opposite actually happened and Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was outplayed from whatever spot he opted to attack.

Tackles Will Beatty and Justin Pugh, guards Weston Richburg and John Jerry, even center J.D. Walton got into the act of stalling Watt at the line of scrimmage. They stood tall, took advantage of his aggressiveness to catch him off balance and eventually frustrated him, as evidenced by a fourth-quarter play on which Walton somehow managed to flatten Watt, knocking him to the MetLife Stadium turf where, from his back, he begged for a flag from an official.

"Every time I got an interview last week, it was about what J.J. Watt was gonna do to us," Pugh said. "After Week 1, people were asking if we were the worst offensive line in football."

They were lauded by Manning and others Sunday for their domination, and rightfully so.

Rashad Jennings rushed for a career-high 176 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries.

Sacked just once and barely touched by a defender all game, Manning completed 21-of-28 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a quarterback rating of 123.2. He looked plenty comfortable with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo calling the shots, completing his first six passes of the game and 10 in a row during the second half in what was his most complete performance in some time. …

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