Shurmur’s first win as Giants coach helped by Wynn, Wheeler
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Pat Shurmur’s first win as coach of the New York Giants had a cast of high-priced talent leading the way along with some help from a couple of less-known guys.
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning hit 25 of 29 throws for 297 yards and threw two touchdowns. Odell Beckham Jr., caught nine passes for 109 yards. Rookie Saquon Barkley ran for a touchdown and had 117 all-purpose yards. Sterling Shepard had six catches, including a TD, and tackle Snacks Harrison had seven tackles shutting down what had been the league’s top rushing attack.
It’s what is expected of the stars.
The Giants (1-2) also won because of contributions from veteran defensive lineman Kerry Wynn and second-year offensive tackle Chad Wheeler.
Wynn might have had his best game with the team while making his first start of the season. He had five tackles, including one for a loss, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a special teams tackle in helping overcome the absence of linebacker/pass rusher Olivier Vernon, who missed his third straight game with a high ankle sprain.
Shurmur knew his stats from the game, and even added in a quarterback pressure in what he said was an outstanding performance.
“I mentioned that Eli had a pretty good day at the office. That’s a pretty darn good day at the office as well,” Shurmur said of Wynn. “Kerry is long, he’s kind of a relentless player, he’s tough, he’s all the things you’re looking for. He’s tough, he cares, he works, and he finds a way to make plays.”
Wynn has been an occasional starter (now 11 times) since earning a roster spot as a free agent out of Richmond in 2014. He has taken big strides this season in the 3-4 scheme employed by new coordinator James Bettcher.
“Me personally, I try to make sure I’m always around the ball,” Wynn said Monday. “When you’re around the ball, good things tend to happen. Just running around and trying to make stuff happen. I’m having fun with the defense. I love it so far.”
Wynn said he was contacted by friends and family about the game, but refused to describe it as his best.
“I know I had a productive game, and it feels even better to have a game like that where we come out victorious from it,” he said. “Hope to have more like that.”
Wheeler was thrust into the starting job at right tackle in place of 2015 first-round draft pick Ereck Flowers, who struggled in the opening two losses.
The former free agent out of Southern Cal had his moments, good and bad. He did a very solid job run blocking, forcing J.J. Watt to run himself out of position on a number of plays in the first half. Watt was outstanding in the second half, getting two of his three sacks, while consistently disrupting the offense and Manning.
“I’m going to take responsibility for it, a couple times he got stretched out and just pure one-on-one (pass protection) against (Watt),” Shurmur said. “I can’t put him in those positions as many times as I did. But he battled and, in my opinion, even though he got beat on a couple of snaps, I thought he had a winning performance.”
Wheeler said he was caught leaning the wrong way a few times.
“I learned if you prepare and work hard during the week it gives you a shot against anybody in the league,” he added.
Based on that, expect Wheeler to get another shot when the New Orleans Saints come to MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
NOTES: Shurmur said TE Evan Engram has a sprained knee. The team was still determining on Monday the severity of the injury and how long he will be out. ... Despite television reports that Harrison was injured late in the game, Shurmur said it was nothing more than ordinary wear and tear. ... Vernon and CB Eli Apple (hamstring) are making progress, but it’s too early to say whether they will play Sunday. ... Shurmur refused to take issue with the low tackles by the Texans that injured Engram and left Barkley and Shepard sore. “Their style of tackling was to go low. Guys running with the ball have to be able to protect themselves,” Shurmur said.