SEATTLE (AP) — Laughed at and mocked for being on top of the worst division in the NFL, the New York Giants now have an impressive win to validate their spot as NFC East leaders.
The matchup of first-place teams in the NFC went an unexpected direction.
“The team had a different swagger about them, had a different juice about them today because we know we played our brand of football,” Giants safety Jabrill Peppers said. “We know we can shock a lot of people.”
Alfred Morris scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns, the New York defense shut down Russell Wilson and one of the top offenses in the league, and the Giants stunned the Seattle Seahawks 17-12 on Sunday.
Double-digit underdogs, the Giants (5-7) handed Seattle its first home loss of the season, sent the NFC West race into some mayhem, and kept their spot on top of the NFC East for another week.
Following its 0-5 start, New York has won five of its past seven, the last four in a row. New York had been close in tight losses to Tampa Bay and the Rams, but picked the perfect time to get its first victory over a team with a winning record.
“These guys do a great job,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do, and they’ve done it as well as they possibly can. And you see the results come in.”
The Giants did it with starting quarterback Daniel Jones (hamstring) a spectator after getting hurt last week against Cincinnati. Colt McCoy was far from spectacular but made key plays and avoided critical mistakes following a first-half interception.
McCoy was 13 of 22 for 105 yards, and Wayne Gallman rushed for 135 yards on 16 carries.
For McCoy, it was his first victory since Oct. 27, 2014 when he led Washington past Dallas. He completed 25 of 30 passes for 299 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in Washington’s 20-17 overtime victory.
“I talked to the guys, coach Judge had me break down the team at the end. I just told them how proud I was to be a part of this, to be with this group of guys,” McCoy said. “That’s special to me. I love the game of football. I’ve been playing for 11 years and I’m fortunate to still be playing.”
Meanwhile, alarms will be going off all over Seattle (8-4) after a sloppy, uninspired performance. Seattle’s offense that was once unstoppable couldn’t get started until it was too late. Wilson was 27 of 42 for 263 yards and was often hesitant with his decisions.
He was sacked five times, a number of those simply from holding the ball too long. The biggest sack came in the closing seconds when Leonard Williams threw Wilson for an 8-yard loss on third down. A fourth-and-18 desperation throw by Wilson was batted down, and the Giants were left to celebrate.
“I’m really surprised that this is how we looked against this game plan that they had,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “I thought we could do a lot of stuff that just didn’t happen for us.”
Seattle seemed poised for another of its late rallies after Wilson hit Chris Carson on a 28-yard TD pass with 6:09 left to pull within 17-12, a drive kept alive by a key third-and-long defensive holding penalty on New York.
But McCoy made two big throws on the Giants’ ensuing drive, converting a third-down with a pass to Evan Engram and hitting Darius Slayton for 14 yards into Seattle territory. New York eventually punted, but the Giants’ defense came through.
“So good, man, feels good,” Peppers said. “But we know we got to keep stacking them. We know that was a great team. We just played well.”
The Giants topped 100 yards rushing for the seventh straight game and Gallman reached the century mark for the first time in his career. It was Gallman’s 60-yard sprint on a second-and-7 early in the second half that changed the momentum. Gallman escaped through a crowd for the long run that set up Morris’ 4-yard TD and an 8-5 Giants lead.
After Seattle failed to convert fourth-and-1 at its 48, the Giants needed five plays to take a 14-5 lead on Morris’ 6-yard catch from McCoy.
The Giants pushed the lead to 17-5 on Graham Gano’s 48-yard field goal after rookie Darnay Holmes’ first career interception — a pass that should have been caught by Chris Carson.
SEATTLE’S WEIRD SCORES
Not surprisingly, Seattle was involved in a game that had a strange score at some point. The 5-0 halftime score was the first in an NFL game since Week 2 of the 2013 season when the Seahawks led the 49ers 5-0 at the half.
Giants: host Arizona next Sunday.
Seahawks: host the winless New York Jets next Sunday.