It would have been nice to see Tyrod Taylor pull out that win last night. He has been afflicted with that professional sports condition in which he is just good enough of a player to spend his career bouncing around on many different teams. He got the start for the New York Giants in Week 6 on the road against the Buffalo Bills due to Daniel Jones’ injury. In the all-whites from the Giants’ glory years of the late 20th century, he almost led them to an upset of one of the 2023 NFL’s best teams — while playing behind a less-than-stellar offensive line.
Before halftime, a 33-year-old player who introduced himself as from “straight off the couch,” was moved from left guard to left tackle due to injury. Justin Pugh replaced backup Josh Ezeudu who had been shuffled to that spot amongst the whirlwind of Giants offensive line injuries this season that included starting left tackle Andrew Thomas. While the line was in a next-man-up state, Taylor got to share the backfield with Saquon Barkely, who returned to the field after a Week 2 injury
Barkley was dazzling during the drive that put the Giants up, 9-7, early in the fourth quarter. However, it was not enough, as the Bills scored a touchdown on their next possession. On the final drive of the game, Taylor had the Giants on the Bills’ one-yard line. It was an untimed down at the end of the game, but he failed to complete a pass to Darren Waller to secure the team’s second win of the season.
Sunday was Taylor’s first start since quarterbacking the hapless Houston Texans in 2021. He began the 2020 season as the starter for the Los Angeles Chargers, but injury would end up costing him the job he was supposed to hold for a limited time before then rookie Justin Herbert was deemed ready.
Prior to signing with the Chargers, Taylor was supposed to be the stopgap quarterback for the Cleveland Browns until 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield was ready to lead the team. The Browns had that top pick because they were winless in 2017. Taylor and the Browns tied the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1. Taylor went into concussion protocol during a Week 3 matchup against the New York Jets and Mayfield led the Browns to victory.
Before Cleveland, Taylor was the first quarterback to lead the Bills to the playoffs since the turn of the millennium. That was 2017, the season in which he was briefly benched in Week 11 for Nathan Peterman, who threw five interceptions that game. Taylor struggled the week prior, but never as much as Peterman would throughout his career.
Taylor entered the league as a third-round pick and has been a largely steady NFL player. He is not an explosive passer or runner, but is certainly firmly capable of running an offense. On Sunday Night Football, he displayed that talent against one of the best teams in the league.
Maybe a second-consecutive pass interference penalty should have been called against the defender covering Waller. There was a clear grab on the play, but back-to-back defensive penalties is not the way most games with no time on the clock will end. Waller is a giant man and he will have to eat some Shaq fouls from time to time, especially since there are no free throws for him to miss and subsequently keep the score even.
Taylor did not get his win, but at 34, he reminded a national television audience that he is still quite the capable NFL starting quarterback.
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