Durable Giants defense? Good call by Mike Kafka. Brian Daboll’s reaction to the Daniel Jones INT and more

Saquon Barkley only got a chance to be the hero Sunday because the Giants defense put the team on their backs for the entire first half.

Safety Julian Love said it was an important development: to see offense and defense supporting each other, rather than pointing fingers or hanging heads.

“That’s the way it has to be for us, honestly,” Love said. “The last few years it’s been a situation where someone goes down and we don’t support each other, and there have been sides. Not to a great extent. Fine. But no, we’re in this together. We will ride as a team.

“Well yeah,” Love added. “They had some turnovers. But our defense builds that mentality that we’re excited to be out there. Give us your best.”

Edge rusher Jihad Ward and defensive lineman Leonard Williams led a tough and effective defense against big Derrick Henry.

Ward played down how effective he was individually against the Titans, even though five of his six tackles came against Tennessee’s top weapon.

“I was? I didn’t even know that,” Ward said. “You’re saying it’s just me. I thought it was the whole team. … He’s a hell of a player. We were trying to make sure he didn’t make big plays.”

On offense, Jones was pressured a ridiculous 18 times on 26 carries, according to NFL NextGen stats. Pass protection made moving the ball nearly impossible.

The Giants trailed 13-0 at halftime. And Jones had two turnovers in the game: a second-quarter sack and a fourth-quarter interception in the end zone. But none of that got Don Martindale’s players going.

“We wanted to play for each other,” Lawrence said. “Whether the offense doesn’t score, get three outs, the defense had to be resilient. Our mindset is to love going to the field. I like to do another project. I love to probably try to create another turnover.”

The offense then had to watch and bite their nails on the Titans’ final drive when Ryan Tannehill easily drove Tennessee into the field goal area against the Giants’ porous pass defense.

But Sterling Shepard said the offense had to have the defense’s back at that point because their defense had gotten to that point.

“That’s what your teammates are for,” Shepard said. “You have to lift each other up. They could have been angry with us in the first half and the way we played. That’s just how the game goes. It will have ups and downs. You just have to keep fighting for it. That’s what this sport is all about.”

DUMBOLL HARD ON JONES

FOX aired video of coach Brian Daboll giving Jones a pep talk on the Giants’ bench after the quarterback’s brutal interception in the end zone.

Dumball initially claimed he was talking on his earpiece to other coaches, not Jones. But the video showed Daboll taking off his headphones and talking to his quarterback.

“I said, ‘What did you see?’ Dumbledore said. “He thought he could possibly shoulder it. And I said that’s not what I saw, but you got the ball in your hands. So at some point you will get the ball back. Our defense will give it to you. Let’s go down and get it again.”

Jones said of the exchange: “I was just talking about the decision there. Obviously one I’d like to have back and a costly mistake down there. So I think he was just sharing it and you have to take those opportunities when we have points. We will definitely try to clean it up.”

CREDIT KAFKA CONQUEST

Jones’ shovel pass to Barkley for the two-point conversion looked like a play straight out of Andy Reid’s Eagles and Chiefs playbooks. Certainly, Daboll credited offensive coordinator Mike Kafka — a student of Reid’s from Philly and Kansas City — for the call and the design.

“Mike and the offensive staff, they knew the play they were going to call,” Dambol said. “I asked them when there was a timeout there, as we’re going for two, ‘What do you like?’ And we had the project so to speak.”

Daboll, funnily enough, said the play was “something we practiced since training camp that didn’t always work. But the kids knew what to do.”

Rookie left guard Josh Ezeudu made a nice block on the play. And Barkley faked out Titans linebacker Dylan Cole, who broke up the play unblocked but couldn’t contain the Giants’ running back.

“It was a good project designed by Mike and well executed up front,” added Daboll.

ROTATE UP FRONT

Veteran Ben Bredeson started the game at left guard, but Daboll rotated Bredeson (32 snaps) and Ezeudu (28 snaps) almost evenly on a part-time basis.

Ezeudu struggled early. He was hit by the Titans’ Jeffrey Simmons for the sack of Jones. But the Giants seemed to run the ball better with the rookie in the game. And Ezeudu made a strong block on Titans DE Kevin Strong on Barkley’s TD run in the third quarter.

“[Offensive line coach] Bobby [Johnson] he did a great job,” Daboll said. “We knew we were going a couple of runs and we were turning them in and out. And Bobby did a great job with it. I communicate with these children.”

SHEPPARD PANTOSE

Sterling Shepard knew he was going to break the tackle and get into the end zone as soon as he got behind Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton on his 65-yard touchdown run.

“It’s over,” Shepard said. “I wasn’t going to be denied that. It’s been a long time, a long way for me. I just thank God, man. It was some dark times going through recovery.”

Sheppard also said he knew from Saturday night that if the Giants needed an extra point to tie Sunday’s game, Daboll would go for two and win.

TBD ON WAN’DALE

Robinson, the Giants’ second-round pick out of Kentucky, had his right knee bent awkwardly on his first NFL catch. He made a five-yard reception on third down to convert for a first down, but it was lost on a hit by Titans safety Amani Hooker.

Dumball said Robinson had told him “I just thought it was funny.” The coach lacked confidence in Monday’s Zoom interview. “Day by day,” he said twice. Daboll wouldn’t say anything sanguine when asked if the Giants had avoided anything long-term.. Cornerback/kicker Nick McCloud (hamstring) already left the game in the second half.

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