The New York Giants have had a terrible season.
There are gaping holes in the offense, secondary and defense. However, the team does have some bright spots. And as they head into the last week of the season, it's time to look at some of the biggest moments in a lost Giants season.
Players like Justin Tuck and Eli Manning have done well against their Week 17 opponents, the Washington Redskins. While Manning had his highest completion percentage against the Redskins in Week 13, Tuck had the best defensive performance of the season against a banged-up Redskins offense (and quarterback).
There are also a few players who suffered from off-the-field problems or battled through long-term injuries to pull off big plays in an otherwise lost season. These moments all act as turning points, whether a season turning point for the team or as a career turning point for an individual player.
After all, who doesn't like to see success rise from adversity.
Compared to practically every other game in 2013, Manning had quite the game against the Washington Redskins in Week 13.
That's why the entire game was a turning point for Manning and the Giants. Playoff hopes were drifting away, but Manning was able to show the world that he could still compete like he did in his glory days.
He had 22 completions out of 28 pass attempts. His passer rating came in at 98.7.
Manning had his highest completion percentage of the season, a percentage of 78.6. Actually, the last time Manning had a higher completion percentage was a 44-7 win against the Oakland Raiders...in 2009! Manning had a completion percentage of 80.0.
At 8.39 yards, Manning also had the third-largest average of yards per pass attempts for the season. He only threw for more yards during Week 1's 10.71 yards and Week 6's average of 9.19 yards.
And while his season total for interceptions is 26, Manning just threw one interception in the game. Of course, zero interceptions is best. But the lone interception against the Redskins is a lot better than the five interceptions against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15 or four interceptions against the Denver Broncos in Week 2.
The problem with Manning is that he needs to communicate with his wide receivers. Often balls are thrown too far out. Or the ball is thrown in an area where a receiver is supposed to be, but the receiver is nowhere to be seen. But it's not just Manning's fault.
His wide receivers need to free themselves up, and when they catch the ball, they need to hold on to it. Far too often there are either ill-thrown passes, slippery receiver hands or receivers who end up nowhere near the ball.
They need to get it together in 2014 by communicating and paying attention to plays.
Although Will Hill has had his share of trouble in the past week, the stars aligned for him late in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions in Week 16.
After the Giants fell behind 20-13, many believed that the Giants had packed it in. But with 4:57 left in the game, Hill intercepted a pass by Detroit's Matthew Stafford. The pick-six came when the ball bounced from tight end Joseph Fauria's hands and dived straight into Hills' arm.
He then returned it 38 yards for a touchdown, which tied the game at 20 points apiece with the extra point by kicker Josh Brown. It was Hill's first career touchdown.
From 0:00 to the 0:20 mark, the video above shows Hill's interception and return.
The game ultimately went to overtime, and Brown booted in a field goal to give the Giants the 23-20 win.
“I just seen the ball tip up in the air and just took advantage of the situation,” Hill said to Ebenezer Samuel and Ralph Vacchiano of New York Daily News. “Once the ball tipped off his hand, all I saw was daylight, so I ran for it.”
But Hill had been dominating the Lions all game long. He had 11 combined tackles throughout the night.
Week 16's matchup against the Lions was only the 11th game of the season for Hill. But the 23-year-old started showing signs off leadership during the game.
“Will told us all to huddle up and called us all up. He said, ‘Come on. This isn’t us. Let’s turn this around,'" said Prince Amukamara to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. “Then a couple plays later, he made a big play.”
If he manages to stay on track, Hill can be a big presence for the Giants defense next season. And that mean's he'll have to stay out of trouble, such as the pair of drug suspensions he was charged with since joining the Giants in 2012, per Raanan.
If he is responsible off the field, energizes the team during the game and backs up his words with actions, there's not doubt that Hill can go far. Maybe he can also increase his on-the-field confidence and pull off much more big plays.
After a tough couple of seasons due to injury, Andre Brown rushed for 115 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown for a Giants win against the Oakland Raiders. It put the once-spiraling team at a slightly better record of 3-6.
The 24-20 win was brought on largely by Brown.
It was his first game of the 2013 season since he missed the first eight games due to a broken left leg. The preseason incident was the second time he hurt his leg in nine months.
But Brown was back, and he made an impact. He scored a touchdown after teammate Terrell Thomas intercepted a pass and returned it for 65 yards. Thomas also suffered knee injuries over the past two seasons.
Even with a losing record, these two wanted to turn around the suffering Giants' rushing game. Thomas stepped it up for the defense, and Brown stepped it up for the offense.
It was an inspiring message for the team; even though both players suffered from long-term injuries, they rose above their adversary and worked together to put the Giants ahead.
The combined interception, return and rushing touchdown made the difference in the game. The Giants could've lost 20-17 but instead went on to win 24-20.
Going forward, the Giants need more players who see an opportunity and take it. Brown has been playing well since his first game in Week 10. In fact, he rushed for a season high of 127 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12. Thomas has also seen plenty of action.
If they can keep healthy, they will both be major factors in the team next year. As a cornerback, Thomas can try to pick off more quarterbacks to give the Giants defense a bigger edge. Brown, who leads the team with 481 rushing yards, can take over as the primary rusher.
As of now, both players have made themselves stand out in the New York Giants organization.
It was a great win for the Giants as they beat their division rivals, the Washington Redskins, 24-17 in Week 13.
Overall, it was a great game by other members of this list. For example, Brown scored two more touchdowns and Manning threw for 235 yards with a 78.6 completion percentage. Hill stripped Pierre Garcon of the ball to give the Giants the opportunity to run out the clock.
But Tuck was the player of the game.
That's because Tuck had four sacks on Washington's Robert Griffin III and five combined tackles. It's hard to believe that during the first 11 games of the season, Tuck had a total of 2.5 sacks.
Tuck's performance was a turning point for the Giants as well as for himself. He certainly stepped it up during the game. Tuck proved that being 30 years old hasn't slowed him down. He seemed rejuvenated from the Redskins game, as he banged out 2.5 more sacks since Week 13.
No doubt that Tuck's sacks will be looking desirable to teams this upcoming offseason when he becomes a free agent.
Whether or not Tuck stays with New York, he still remains a captain presence. The Giants were still technically in the playoff hunt the last time they played the Redskins. Tuck's drive to take down a division rival to continue the team's journey showed leadership through example.
If the Giants try to re-sign Tuck during the offseason, they might sign him to a one- or two-year deal because of his age. But if they do stick with him, they'll be sticking with a player who has recorded four (possibly five) seasons with a double-digit number of sacks.
He is fully capable of pressuring the quarterback and can act as a mentor for younger defensive linesmen like Damontre Moore and Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Giants better re-sign him.