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Giants get one more gift from backup QB Gods against Bengals


If the NFL’s best quarterbacks form a Murder’s Row, the Giants mostly have faced Traffic Ticket Row.

The Bengals will be the latest opponent to turn to a backup quarterback against the Giants — and possibly the second to start a third-stringer now that Brandon Allen reportedly has jumped over Ryan Finley in Joe Burrow’s absence.

It’s enough to make the Giants heavy road favorites for the first time since 2016, but also enough to cause shivers from fans familiar with the team’s 15-ish head-scratching losses to backup quarterbacks since the turn of the century.

“We’ve got three wins. We’re confident, but nobody is going to be overconfident,” safety Logan Ryan said. “Backup quarterbacks have won some games against us. Every quarterback won games against us early in the year.”

Put aside future Hall of Famers Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady, and a pre-injury half against Dak Prescott. The Giants otherwise have faced Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Mullens, Jared Goff, Andy Dalton, Kyle Allen, Carson Wentz and Alex Smith.

So, Brandon Allen — who joined the Bengals in August and was on the practice squad until two days ago — could be the fifth backup to face the Giants in 11 games. Or the sixth if counting Trubisky, who went to the bench shortly after beating the Giants.

Allen is a former sixth-round draft choice who was 1-2 in his first three career starts for the Broncos last season. He is familiar with coach Zac Taylor’s offense from their time together with the Rams — and, though this combination isn’t Goff and Sean McVay, the Tyler Boyd-Tee Higgins-A.J. Green receiver trio could pick up some of the quarterback slack.

brandon allen will be the latest backup qb to face the giants this season
Brandon AllenGetty Images

Taylor declined to name whether Allen or Finley (3-for-10 replacing Burrow last week) will be the starter.

“You watch [Allen’s] tape, he gives his receivers a chance to make plays down the field,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “He’s not afraid to throw it into tight windows, and these receivers have all shown they’re very capable of making those 50/50 catches. This is an elite receiving group. We have to acknowledge that this is one of the best in the league.”

The Giants have faced two of the top 14 in the NFL in passing yards. Same goes for two of the top 14 in passing touchdowns and top 14 in passer rating. It’s one of the top 14 in completion percentage.

Maybe then the Giants’ rankings as No. 17 in total defense, No. 12 in scoring defense and No. 24 in passing defense actually are overinflated.

Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson are coming in December, so the Giants need to capitalize on one final gift from the Quarterback Gods to stay in an unlikely playoff race.

Allen brings up memories of the Giants losing to Kurt Kittner in 2003 … or Todd Collins in 2007 … or Matt Moore in 2009 … or Vince Young in 2011 … or Drew Stanton in 2014 … and so on. The scars of Mullens throwing for 343 yards in September are fresh.

One new possible advantage? Giants linebackers coach Bret Bielema was Allen’s college head coach for three years at Arkansas.

“I want to know what type of bubble gum he likes,” Ryan said. “Tell me what type of trash talk to go with that day. I definitely want to know as much as I can about the opponent. It might let me know how he handles pressure and adversity. Is he a fighter?”

The Giants devoted advance scouting in the bye week to Burrow and the last two days to Finley, so they still are not counting out the possibility of facing a two-man rotation. But Bielema fills in the gaps on Allen.

“The things Bret talks about are his poise, his composure, his competitiveness,” Judge said. “Knowing the guy’s mindset from his former head coach, that’s critical.

“Bret really understands what makes these guys tick. He’s described Brandon as a leader — this guy is going to get in the huddle and he’s going to have 10 sets of eyes that are confident in what he’s telling them, and they’re going to go out and play aggressive for him.”



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