Giants grind out another win for franchise’s best start since 2008

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants let an inferior opponent in the Houston Texans hang around Sunday afternoon.

Then Dexter Lawrence, Saquon Barkley and rookie Dane Belton put the game away.

Barkley rushed 35 times for 152 yards, the fourth-highest total of his career, with a fourth-quarter touchdown, as the Giants improved to 7-2, their best start since opening 8-1 in 2008.

Belton, playing in injured Xavier McKinney’s spot, intercepted Texans QB Davis Mills in the end zone in the fourth quarter with Houston looking to pull within one score.

Lawrence was the best player on the field, dominating the line of scrimmage as he has all season. Lawrence finished with a sack and five quarterback hits, and he drew a holding penalty to negate a touchdown pass.

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The Giants returned to action after their bye week in position to challenge for their first playoff berth in six years, and with a reminder that there are no layups in the NFL, regardless of what the records say.

The Texans (1-7-1) certainly represented an opponent the Giants had to beat to maintain their surprising, yet strong, start in the first of back-to-back games at MetLife Stadium in which they should be favored. The Giants were 4.5-point favorites, according to Tipico Sportsbook.

‘Every team in this league is good. Any team can win any given day,’ Giants coach Brian Daboll said earlier in the week. ‘If you play well, you put yourself as having a chance to win. It doesn’t guarantee anything. And if you play lousy, you’re probably going to lose. And we just focus on the things we need to do each week — some of them are consistent. They never change based on who we’re playing. Some of them are game plan specific. If we hit those marks, we give ourselves a chance. And if we don’t, we lose. Pretty simple.’

Daniel Jones threw two touchdown passes and went 13 for 17 for 197 passing yards. Jones hit tight end Lawrence Cager on a 9-yard TD pass and Darius Slayton on a 54-yard catch and run as the Giants scored on their opening possession of each half in building a 14-3 lead.

Mills (22 of 37 for 319 yards) threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Nico Collins and Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked field goals of 38, 34 and 46 yards for Houston, which has lost four in a row.

The last field goal cut the Giants’ lead to eight points with 7 seconds to play but Adoree Jackson recovered the onside kick to seal the win.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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