When the Giants traded star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns in March, New York parted ways with one of its top playmakers from the 2018 season.
As a result, the Giants needed a collective effort from other skill players -- running back Saquon Barkley, wide receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram among the headliners -- for the offense to get off the ground in 2019.
While rookie quarterback Daniel Jones gave the Giants (1-2) the spark they needed Sunday in their 32-31 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2), Engram stepped up with a team-high six receptions for 113 yards (18.8 average) -- including a 75-yard touchdown catch.
"I think that might have been the fastest that I have run, definitely with the ball and probably in my career," Engram said on Monday's conference call. "It was a play we kind of drew up, we kind of called it coming out of halftime. We knew that we definitely needed a spark. Personally, that's my goal and what I strive for to be for this team, just to be a spark plug. We definitely were in position to make a big play. It was also important everyone did their job protecting Daniel, receivers ran great routes, and Daniel hit me in stride. (Rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton) made a huge block downfield. Just distracting that guy for a little bit gave me a leeway to get down the sideline and get in the end zone."
On the play, a first-and-10 look out of the shotgun from the Giants' own 25-yard line, Jones sold a play-action fake in the backfield as Engram leaked off the offensive line's right side and into the second level past three Buccaneers linebackers playing zone coverage.
Jones dropped the ball into Engram at the 38-yard line and the tight end took off, making a defensive back miss before bouncing outside and dashing down the sideline for the catch-and-run score -- the first play of the second half -- to light the Giants' eventual 22-3 comeback.
According to Next Gen Stats, as Mike Garafolo of NFL Network mentioned Monday on Twitter, Engram's sprint touched 20.84 miles mph -- the fastest speed by a ball-carrying tight end on the early season -- coming second to only Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis, who hit 21.44 mph during a 53-yard touchdown last year.
The crazy part? Engram has surpassed the 20-mph plateau before -- three times since the 2018 season started. Notching three plays of 20 mph or more in the past year, he is the only player at his position to do so -- the San Francisco 49ers' George Kittle and the Oakland Raiders' Darren Waller are closest with two apiece since Week 1 of September 2018.
Early in 2019, Engram's third-year breakout is underway with room for more production as the offense takes off under Jones. Through three games, Engram has caught 23 passes for 277 yards (12.0 average) and two touchdowns. Over his first two seasons in 2017 and '18, he recorded 109 receptions for 1,299 yards (11.9 average) and nine touchdowns.
"It's definitely very motivating, but at the same time, we understand that we can be even better," Engram said. "It's definitely a good first step in the right direction. It's important we enjoy it and build off of it, but there were some mistakes and some things that we can fix to put us in an even better spot. It definitely gives us some life and gives us some motivation moving forward, but also, it's important for us to stay hungry, to come in each and every day to find ways to get better and build off of it."