Giants’ Peppers on win against Washington: ‘The game shouldn’t have been that close’

They didn’t do it in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas or Philadelphia, or at home last Monday night against Tampa Bay. So Sunday, when a 17-point lead had been whittled down to just three and the Giants were in danger of another late and disheartening loss, Joe Judge continually gave his players instructions that were basic and vital.

“The whole message was finish,” the Giants’ first-year coach said. “That’s a thing you could constantly hear a player saying over and over and over. We talked about that before the game, at halftime, throughout the game and on the sideline. We have to finish the game. When we took the field, a number of times in that fourth quarter, the message was finish. The players were ready.”

That became obvious. With the Washington Football Team trying to complete an improbable comeback with its backup quarterback, safeties Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan – both New Jersey natives – intercepted Alex Smith passes in the final 2:18, a finish that clinched the Giants’ 23-20 victory in FedExField. The last two of the Giants’ five takeaways secured their second consecutive season sweep and fifth straight victory against Washington.

The Giants are 2-7 and host NFC East leader Philadelphia Sunday. Their last five games have been decided by 10 points and their last four by six points. The Giants’ two victories against Washington were by a total of four points, including a 20-19 victory in MetLife Stadium on Oct. 18.

“We knew it was going to be a 60-minute game like it was last time,” Judge said. “We knew this was an improved team, who plays very aggressive. They did. They did not disappoint. They gave us everything. We asked our guys to finish and play 60 minutes. We saw that down the stretch. We were able to come away with the result that we were working for this week.”

“It’s always good when you close it out on defense,” Peppers said. “The game shouldn’t have been that close to begin with; we had a lot of bonehead plays that put us in that position. But at the end of the day, a W is a W. They all go in the same column. Just going to keep building off this, correct the tape tomorrow, and get ready for a big showdown against Philly.”

The Giants had a long list of important contributors.

Linebacker Blake Martinez joined the safeties in intercepting passes thrown by Smith (who took over late in the first quarter after Kyle Allen suffered an ankle injury). Peppers (on Washington’s first offensive play) and Madre Harper (on an early muffed punt) recovered fumbles. The five takeaways are the Giants’ highest total in a game since Sept. 25, 2014, when they had six in Washington.

Despite getting sacked five times, Daniel Jones completed 68% of his passes (23 of 34) for 212 yards and one touchdown and had zero turnovers.

The Giants’ 2017 draft class had a big day as first-round tight end Evan Engram caught his first touchdown pass of the season and fourth-rounder Wayne Gallman led the team with 68 rushing yards, including a two-yard touchdown. Alfred Morris added 67 yards on the ground.

Ten different receivers caught passes, led by Sterling Shepard with six. Rookie Austin Mack caught a 50-yard pass for the Giants’ longest completion of the season.

Graham Gano has now made 18 field goal attempts in a row after converting attempts of 38, 48 and 42 yards against Washington.

“We keep getting in these close games,” said defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who had one of the Giants’ two sacks. “Hopefully, one day we’re not taking it to the last two minutes of the game and we’re just able to close it out before we get to that point. But this defense is pretty good and I think everyone believes in each other, so when we were challenged by Coach Judge, we took it in a positive way, we were like, ‘Okay, let’s do it, let’s put the team on our back, let’s go out there for another drive and do it again.’ The guys answered the challenge and we got the win.”

If any player deserved to be singled out, it was Ryan, who endured an incomprehensibly difficult week. Soon after the Giants’ two-point loss last Monday night to Tampa Bay, Ryan received a phone call from his wife, Ashley, who was in Florida and experiencing extreme stomach pain. She was going to try to sleep it off until Giants assistant athletic trainer Justin Maher instructed her to get to a hospital. That forceful directive might have saved her life. Ashley Ryan was soon rushed into surgery with an ectopic pregnancy. She has since rejoined her family and is recuperating in New Jersey.

Despite carrying that burden, Ryan was one of the Giants’ key contributors on Sunday. He had six tackles (five solo), two passes defensed, forced the fumble that Peppers recovered and sealed the victory with his first interception of the season with 1:15 remaining.

“It was an extremely emotional week,” Ryan said. “Extremely grateful to the organization and to my wife. She’s a fighter, to not lose her there in that situation is very fortunate. At the same time, my wife and I mourn in silence of our lost child during that process too, so we had a loss as well. Although it’s a great story, it was an emotional week for me and her, and that game was definitely for my wife, definitely for my family. I had her name written on my cleats and just extremely grateful that I have a great wife. That ball is for her, she told me to bring one home for her, so I was able to do that.”

“Logan’s a very mentally tough football player and he’s a great team leader,” Judge said. “There are a lot of things behind the scenes that people don’t know or see that Logan really brings to a team. That’s something I’ve seen really evolve throughout his career. First coaching him when he was a younger player (in New England), and then having to coach against him when he was on an opposing team and he beat you, and you know that he’s a key catalyst in winning those games. Now being back on a team with him, you can see how his maturity and his age have really helped him settle in. It really is what his personality is and Logan is a tremendous leader for us, on and off the field.”

The defensive call used to thwart Washington’s last gasp had been in the playbook for about 20 hours before it was called. Fittingly, it was installed as a reaction to the Giants’ too many close losses.

“The play that we ran is something that I talked to (defensive coordinator] Pat Graham about doing and putting me in that position to make that play,” Ryan said. “In two-minute, we’d been struggling all year and it was just a play that we put in, I think, Saturday night, like hours before the game. Last night, we said we were going to try something new and try that.

“In the first half, I messed up, I wasn’t there, They ran a 32-yard in-cut in the two-minute and that was my fault, that was my job there. I told Pat, I said, ‘Hey, that’s on me. Call it again and I’ll be there, I’ll make it right,’ and at least he thinks it’s going to be there, so he called it again and the next time we ran it was at the end of the game and I was able to make the play. So that’s just the story behind the game and I’m very fortunate that Pat trusts me enough to run my play and to call my play and to call my number, and that’s what I believe I’m here to do and I believe I was here to do today for the team.”

Ryan guaranteed the Giants wouldn’t let another game slip from their grasp in the fourth quarter. Maybe that will start a new trend.


Giants’ Logan Ryan thanks organization after team trainer saved his wife’s life

After the Giants’ 25-23 loss to the Buccaneers on Monday night, Giants safety Logan Ryan dealt with a more significant issue. Ryan received a phone call from his wife, Ashley, who had flown to the family’s home in Florida to vote in the presidential election.

According to Ryan, Ashley was dealing with stomach pain, and after advice from Giants trainer Justin Maher, she decided to go to the hospital. On Wednesday, Ryan discussed the situation.

“She was telling me about some pain she had in her stomach,” said Ryan, who has a daughter, Avery, and a son, Otto, with Ashley. “She wanted to sleep it off. She was in extreme pain, but she said she’ll wait until the morning. I talked to one of our trainers about the symptoms. He said, ‘No, she needs to go to the ER.’ My wife ended up going to the ER, and they ended up catching (an) ectopic pregnancy, where the egg was in the wrong place in her fallopian tube, and it was about to burst. She ended up going into emergency surgery. … They ended up saving her and ended up preventing a lot of what could have been done. That was a trainer on our team, Justin Maher, telling my wife to go to the ER at 1 a.m. and could have saved her life or saved a lot of internal bleeding there. That’s the type of organization we have here. My kids are okay, my wife is recovering well, she’s okay.”

Listen to Ryan tell the story below:

Giants’ Ryan on wearing mask in practice: ‘(It was) not too comfortable, but this is 2020’

Logan Ryan has played in 131 NFL regular-season and postseason games, which means he has participated in many hundreds of practices. But today the eight-year veteran experienced a practice first – he wore a mask.

“(It was) not too comfortable, but this is 2020,” Ryan said in a post-practice Zoom call. “A lot of things we have to adjust for, a lot of curveballs. I’m not complaining, got the best job in the world. I got used to it pretty quickly.”

Giants players were required to wear masks as part of the more intensive protocols mandated by the NFL after guard Will Hernandez was today placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The Giants practiced in a downpour as they began preparing for their game Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The new protocols include a mandate that meetings must be conducted virtually unless they are in an area large enough to allow social distancing.

The Giants, like all teams, are used to such requirements and are unfazed by them.

“So far, everything has been normal,” Ryan said. “Practiced out there on the field, meeting as normal. How we have to adjust is just what the NFL protocols will be. I wasn’t here in the spring, but I am familiar with the Zoom app, I am a millennial. I’ll turn it on and make sure my kids aren’t doing backflips. I’ll have to mute myself a little bit. I’ll be super locked in. It’s important, it’s a big game. It’s Tom Brady and the crew coming to town. I’ll definitely be in the meetings, prepared and ready to go.”

The protocols are an enhanced extension of the regimen the players have followed since the spring, when team facilities were closed, learning was remote and on-field instruction was prohibited.

Ryan was a free agent who didn’t join the Giants until Sept. 4, but that hasn’t precluded him from appreciating the COVID-19 induced weirdness.

“It’s a year I’m going to remember, for sure,” Ryan said. “Everybody is going to remember this. Everyone has to adjust in every walk of life. That comes to NFL players, that comes to NFL practice. That’s definitely been an adjustment with a lot of things. You know you have to take it for what it is. This is what we signed up for. I didn’t opt out, I signed up to play. I knew there was going to be some curveballs in there.

“I think that (coach) Joe (Judge) has been extremely flexible. I think the Giants have done a great job handling everything the best they can. We just have to go with what the NFL protocol is. Whatever they tell us is what we have to do, is what we’ve done. We’re not the first team to go through this, we won’t be the last. We just have to handle it the best we can, which I feel like we have. It’s definitely going to be a year I remember.”


Eagles’ Pederson: ‘We know our division is down’

The NFC East has turned into the NFC Least this season. After six weeks, every team in the division is below .500. The division is a combined 5-18-1, and there’s a very good chance that the winner of this division could end the season below .500. 

On Thursday, the New York Giants(1-5) travel to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles(1-4-1). If the Eagles win, they are on top of the NFC East. If the Giants win, they will be a 1/2 game behind the Cowboys for the top spot in the division. Every game in the NFL is big, but this is a division game, and being that it’s highly unlikely any of these teams will get a wild card spot, this game becomes even bigger.

However, according to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, this game is no different than any other game.

“Every week is heightened,” Pederson said on Wednesday. “The sense of urgency each week to win a football game, right? We understand where we are, the sort of the hole we dug ourselves into, and it’s all about just one-game-at-a-time mentality. You don’t want to look past the Giants. This is a good football team coming in here Thursday night, and we have to be prepared. It’s a short week, we came off an emotional game this past Sunday with Baltimore, and we got to turn around and play. So, the sense of urgency each week is always there, and again it’s a one-game mentality, one opponent at a time…

“We know our division is down, and maybe it’s up for grabs. All I know is we’re going to focus on one week at a time, and I think that’s all I can ask of our players. This is a short week. The New York Giants coming to town, it’s a good football team. I know their record doesn’t show it either, but these guys are good on defense, they’re good on offense, and got really good special teams. So, we have to prepared to win this game come Thursday and play hard.”

Giants safety Logan Ryan knows the importance of this game, and according to him, it’s pretty close to a must-win game for New York.

“The division games matter, and we’re tying to win it,” Ryan said on Tuesday. “Like I said, the history of the years prior, this is my first year playing in the NFC period. I have been in the AFC for seven years. It is what it is. Our division is winnable. We have to go out here and win some games in our division to put us in a position at the end of the year to strike.

“That’s what we’re doing week in and week out. You prepare hard to put yourself in position to win the game. At the end of the game, I think three or four games this year have come down to the final drive. Our record can swing either way. We found a way to win last week. We need to find a way to win this week. It’s probably going to be a close game. I’m looking forward to the opportunity of that.”

At this point, both teams are not very good, but somebody has to win it, and ultimately, somebody has to win the division. The winner of Thursday’s game will put themselves in a good position to do just that.

Giants’ Ryan: ‘We need to find a way to win this week’

 Joe Judge has a football coach’s proclivity for tunnel vision.

The results in Week 6 of the NFL season left the Giants with as good a chance as any of their rivals to win the NFC East title. The Giants were the only one of its four members to win last week. Current leader Dallas is 2-4, while the other three teams all have one victory. That includes the 1-5 Giants, who are in a stretch in which they play five division games in six weeks. They can move closer to the top when they visit the 1-4-1 Philadelphia Eagles tomorrow night in Lincoln Financial Field.

But Judge, as coaches are wont to do, is fixated only on the next opponent. Nor is he discussing the division race with his players.

“I don’t really get into those kinds of things,” Judge said. “Our goal every week is to be 1-0, and right now, our goal for this week is to be 1-0. But we have a division opponent, a rival, so that’s all of our focus right now.”

“All these divisional games are big, and I think guys understand that,” quarterback Daniel Jones said. “Guys have an awareness as to where the division is and the standings. But we’re focused on this week. We’re focused on this game and it being a big divisional game. It’s important for that reason. Guys are locked into that and excited to get out there.”

Short-week games always present a physical challenge and both the Giants and Eagles are missing key players to injury. The Giants have lost one of their young linebackers in each of the last three weeks, first Oshane Ximines, then Lorenzo Carter and this week Tae Crowder, who scored the go-ahead touchdown against Washington on a 43-yard fumble return but joined the others on injured reserve this week. The Giants apparently have a chance to get back wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who missed the last four games with turf toe but returned to practice yesterday.

Philadelphia finished its 30-28 loss to Baltimore Sunday with only two projected offensive starters, quarterback Carson Wentz and center Jason Kelce, on the field. And coach Doug Pederson said they were playing hurt. Philadelphia has lost its top wide receivers (though at least one might return tomorrow), tight ends and running back and is playing backups at four offensive line positions.

When Pederson was asked how he viewed his team’s record in light of the numerous injuries and inconsistent performances, he said, “That’s right where we should be – 1-4-1.”

Judge views the Eagles through a different prism.

“This is a very good team,” Judge said. “This is a very, very explosive and capable team. They’re loaded on defense up front. They can really affect your running game, get after your passer. They have really aggressive and opportunistic defensive backs on the back end. They do a great job of stripping and punching at the ball creating turnovers. Offensively, whether it’s the run game with explosive runs, the pass game, and that’s throwing to the running backs, the tight ends or the receivers. They do a great job of that. They have a two-headed monster at the quarterback position with how they’re using Jalen (Hurts) and getting him involved in the game. Carson can make throws anywhere down the field and he can extend plays and make plays down the field like we’ve seen time and time again, especially this last weekend with his legs. It doesn’t matter who has the ball in their hands. Every player on this offense is explosive, every player on their defense plays with great effort, energy and technique.”

Judge is also quick to credit Pederson, who has led the Eagles to three playoff berths, two division titles and a victory in Super Bowl LII in his first four seasons.

“I think it’s important to really study Doug and what he’s done throughout his tenure there,” Judge said. “One thing he’s done a phenomenal job of every year is they’ve always had to make a lot of personnel moves. They’ve been nicked up and banged up and they plug and play guys, whether it’s the bigs up front or whether it’s the skill players. They find a great way of really balancing out developing their players and getting them ready for game action. They don’t have too much of a drop off no matter who’s in the game. They’re a very explosive team who can score points, and they’re very good on third down, two minute and the red area, so we have to be very good in situational football this week.”

The Giants also need to end a couple of streaks to defeat the Eagles. They have lost seven consecutive games and 11 of the last 12 to Philadelphia and six in a row in Lincoln Financial Field.

But with the NFC East there for the taking, it’s the perfect time to assert themselves against their longtime rivals.

“Our division is winnable,” said defensive back Logan Ryan. “We have to go out here and win some games in our division to put us in a position at the end of the year to strike. That’s what we’re doing week in and week out. You prepare hard to put yourself in position to win the game. At the end of the game, I think three or four games this year have come down to the final drive. Our record can swing either way. We found a way to win last week. We need to find a way to win this week. It’s probably going to be a close game. I’m looking forward to the opportunity of that.”

“I don’t think anyone in the division needs any motivation to play anyone else in the division,” Judge said. “This is a big Thursday night game. Obviously, we haven’t had a chance to play the Eagles yet this year. It’ll be a big atmosphere for us right there.

“I’ve told the players from the very beginning of the season, it’s a long year. If you get too focused on looking down at the end stretch at this point right here, you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have to keep grinding week by week, but the focus stays on going 1-0 each week. No matter what happened last Sunday, we need to come in with the same mindset to improve as a team, to improve individually, which will lead to our collective rise, and then to be able to match up our opponent and just play well for 60 minutes on Thursday night.”



Giants’ Judge: ‘I have a ton of memories with Logan(Ryan)’

Joe Judge deviated from his norm today and spoke at length about a player who is not yet eligible to participate in a Giants practice.

But Logan Ryan is no ordinary player.

Judge and the Giants’ newest acquisition were together in New England for the first four years of Ryan’s career after the Patriots selected him in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The eight-year pro is a talented, versatile and experienced defensive back who will upgrade the Giants’ secondary the instant he steps on the field.

Though Ryan agreed to contract terms yesterday, that moment will have to wait until Ryan fulfills his testing obligations mandated by the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol.

“With the protocols in place, we won’t see him before Thursday (when the Giants will hold their second scrimmage in MetLife Stadium),” Judge said.

Judge knows exactly what he’ll be getting when Ryan does begin practicing.

“I think Logan’s a guy who comes to work every day with the right demeanor,” Judge said today. “He’s a smart guy that plays tough on the field. He’s a player that I noticed through my time with him and then also my time away competing against him that he’s a guy that really improves from year to year. He really works on his craft. He’s not just a guy who’s out there kind of ‘this is what I am.’ He’s always looking to work on maybe something that hurt him the year before and he’s looking to always go ahead and improve on his strengths.

“Look, he brings a lot of versatility. He’s a smart, tough football player. We’re glad to have him. We have a lot of guys in the defensive backfield make a lot of improvements every day. It’ll be good to get him in the mix with all of those guys.”

When asked if Ryan will be a corner or safety, Judge again stressed the player’s flexibility.

“He’s going to play a variety of roles for us, so if I gave you one answer right there, I’d be lying,” Judge said. “Logan, one of his strengths really is versatility. We’re going to play him in different packages all over the field. Really, having a guy like that allows you to play other guys in fewer positions because he can handle a lot of the multiples while these guys are learning the system.”

Ryan has an impressive resume. In 109 regular season games, including 85 starts, he has 522 tackles (374 solo), 17 interceptions and 11.0 sacks. Ryan also has 89 tackles (70 solo), 1.0 sack and two interceptions in 15 postseason games, including two Super Bowl victories.

In 2019, Ryan started all 19 games for the Tennessee Titans and led the team in tackles in both the regular season (when he had career-high totals of 113 stops, 4.5 sacks, plus four interceptions) and the postseason 25 tackles (18 solo) and added one pick.

At 29, Ryan is the Giants’ second-oldest defensive back after 31-year-old Nate Ebner, who was also on those Patriots teams and plays almost exclusively on special teams.

“To me, it’s valuable to bring in good football players, no matter what age they are,” Judge said. “I’ve referenced before, it doesn’t matter what year you are in the league. If you’re a good player, you’ll help us. It’s our job as coaches to make sure everyone knows how to play, what their responsibilities are, and make sure they know what the expectations and the culture are. We’re excited to have Logan on his way.”

The two men have previously shared success. The Patriots won the AFC East title in each of their four seasons they were together in New England and defeated Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX and Atlanta in Super Bowl LI. Ryan played every game during that time and intercepted 13 passes, including a career-high five as a rookie.

“I have a ton of memories with Logan,” Judge said. “It was only my second year in the league when we drafted Logan. We kind of learned a lot of stuff together, to be honest with you. As you get working, I was working with him as a gunner, a vice player and a core special teamer for us, and obviously, he was growing within his defensive role.

“I think the thing that stands out to me the most about Logan is the improvement I watched him make from year one to year two. The thing you noticed was he was a guy when the season was over, he hung behind. He wasn’t in a hurry to get out of there. Him and Duron Harmon were actually two Rutgers teammates. They hung around the building the entire offseason and you could physically see the transformation in their bodies. You could see the work and evidence in how they changed how they looked, and it transferred over on to the field in how they played.”

And beginning next week, the Giants will be the beneficiaries of that dedication.