DENVER (AP) — One suspension, three season-ending surgeries, six sidelined starters and seven lineup changes to accommodate this whole mess.
Not exactly the usual path to success, but one the New York Giants successfully navigated in a stunning 23-10 win Sunday night over the bewildered Denver Broncos .
The Giants (1-5) controlled the trenches, rolling over the league’s best run defense for 148 yards and limiting the NFL’s third-best ground game to a meager 46 yards.
“It was good that we could play this style of football and get a win,” Eli Manning said in his first game without injured wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris, all of whom got hurt last week.
Manning threw for 128 yards, barely beating the 117 running back Orleans Darkwa gained on 21 carries. Manning connected five times with rookie tight end Evan Engram for 82 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s a special win just with everything going on,” Manning said.
And a crushing loss for the Broncos (3-2), who failed to close in on Kansas City in the AFC West after the Chiefs were knocked off by Pittsburgh for their first loss Sunday.
“It’s the National Football League,” Denver’s Von Miller said. “It’s not about who you’ve got playing for you or what stars are in the game or what the team looks like. It’s any given Sunday.”
Miller had a sack, but the Giants’ heavy dose of handoffs kept Denver’s star linebacker from wrecking New York’s game plan.
“We didn’t want a game where we were going to have to throw it 40 times,” Manning said. “They’ve got a good pass rush, and so I thought we did a good job. He had the one sack. They kind of had a blitz on and so he was 1-on-1, had to be 1-on-1 that one and he got to us. He’s a good player. It’s going to happen.”
Visiting teams went 8-5 in Week 6 and are 46-44 overall this season.
Other takeaways from the game that epitomizes the topsy-turvy season:
ROLE REVERSAL: Trevor Siemian threw for a career-high 376 yards, including a 13-yarder to third-year tight end Jeff Heuerman for his first career TD.
But like Manning last week, Siemian spent this game losing teammates.
Receivers Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Isaiah McKenzie sustained what appeared to be serious right ankle injuries. Although X-rays were negative, both will get MRIs on Monday. Demaryius Thomas hobbled his way through a 10-catch night, and right tackle Menelik Watson left with a calf injury.
Sanders was injured when safety Landon Collins undercut him in an attempt to intercept Siemian’s low throw.
“I apologize for that,” Collins said. “I saw the quarterback throw the ball and I was trying to break on it and go get it and make a game-changing play. … Much love to him because I look up to him as a player.”
Siemian came out himself after jamming his surgically repaired left shoulder into the ground while diving to keep cornerback Janoris Jenkins out of the end zone on his 43-yard pick-6 that put New York ahead 17-3 at the half.
POSITIVE RECEPTION: Thomas had 133 yards on 10 catches, snapping a career-long seven-game drought without a 100-yard performance. However, he extended his streak without a touchdown catch to 11 games, also a career long.
Only Julio Jones (38) and Antonio Brown (37) have more 100-yard games than Thomas, with 35, since 2011.
“He’s a difference maker,” Siemian said. “He got a lot of attention tonight and we just found a way to get it to him.”
SACK ARTIST : Add three more sacks to the resume of Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. He was constantly in the face of Siemian.
“This week you could tell the guys were hungry,” Pierre-Paul said. “The defense came to play.”
That was readily apparent on a fourth-and-goal stop from the 1 in the fourth quarter. A swarm of Giants including J.P.P. pushed back C.J. Anderson, with Jenkins providing a big assist.
“Every day at practice when we do goal line, I always tell my big guys to force it to me,” Jenkins said. “It just so happened that they forced it to me this game and I just came up with the stop.”
KICKING WOES: Coach Vance Joseph is sticking with kicker Brandon McManus, who continues to be anything but money since signing an $11.25 million extension last month.
He made just one kick out of three, pushing a 35-yarder wide right and watching a 53-yarder get blocked.
That makes five misses in 13 tries. Last year, he missed five times in 34 tries.
“I haven’t missed a kick in practice or warm-ups this season,” McManus said. “It’s just the games. And right now in the games I stink.”
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