This round of cheers for Evan Engram was not sarcastic.
MetLife Stadium erupted Sunday when Engram climbed the back of Raiders safety Johnathan Abram and hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass that marked the Giants’ first touchdown in the first quarter of any of their five home games this season. It set the tone of a strange day in MetLife Stadium. Daniel Jones was known for his tight ends, running backs and only targeted wide receivers with four of his 20 passes.
“D.J. made a perfect throw — literally a perfect throw — and trusted me with it,” Engram said after a 23-16 victory. “That’s literally who they are as a defense, their coverage in that formation. All day that’s what they run. We knew what we were getting. We just had to go and make the play.”
Engram has scored touchdowns in back to back games in a span of six days. Surprisingly, the Giants kept Engram alive at the NFL trade deadline.
This is a marked improvement from Sept. 26, when Engram was mock-cheered by the home crowd after he was subbed off the field following an incompletion. He also lost a fumble in that game against Falcons.
The former first-round pick mostly has been used over the middle of the field to move the chains, but the touchdown — “Moss-ing” Abram — was a reminder of the raw athleticism that can make him a coverage nightmare …. so long as he makes the catch.
“It was cool, yeah,” Engram said of the cheering, as relief washed over his face. “Mainly, really felt good just making a play for the team. That play was a lot of work this week. It was huge to see it come down and cash in. So it felt good.”
Engram led the Giants’ receiving yards with 38. Kyle Rudolph was the tight end who had four catches. Kenny Golladay had two catches for 28 yard on two targets, KadariusToney had one catch for 9 yards on his sole target, and Darius Slayton was the target of one incompletion.
“The game plan we put together this week, the offensive staff did a good job of seeing what we do well and what we can match up against them in terms of where other teams had success,” coach Joe Judge said. “I thought they found the right formula with that.”
According to NextGenStats Golladay, Toney, and Slayton played 30 of 54 offensive plays, while the Giants rotated receivers Collin Johnson, Pharoah cooper, and John Ross. Sunday’s job required run-blocking. Golladay, Toney and Pharoah Cooper converted on their own third-and-8s.
“I think it has a lot to do with how well we were running it and trusting that,” Jones said. “When you’re able to do that, when the offensive line is playing like that, then you lean on it. We are able to play in many different ways as a team. That was working, so we stuck with it.”