After Monday's loss to the Washington Redskins the road to the NFC East title is much harder than it had to be for the New York Giants.
Before I pen today's 'Kudos & Wet Willies' review of Monday night's 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins by the New York Giants I have to offer a few thoughts about the game, and the race in the NFC East.
- This was an extremely frustrating game to watch and -- I have to believe -- for the Giants to play. All night the Giants seemed on the cusp of doing some very good things in each phase -- offense, defense and special teams -- yet the Giants couldn't quite make the plays that need to be made, and were there to be made.
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- Offensively, the best starting field position the Giants had all night was their own 24-yard line. Four times they started drives from their 10-yard line or worse. They moved the ball, but barely missed several big-play opportunities. The field position actually allowed them to control the clock, but made it more difficult to score points.
- Defensively I can't really kick about the effort. The Giants played hard and on some occasions were in position to make plays but Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris were too good. The Washington offense, with the effectiveness of the Redskins' running game, the threat of going inside, outside or passing on every play, puts immense pressure on defensive ends and linebackers. One mis-step or being a fraction late on a read and the play is gone. Here is Justin Tuck describing what playing against the Redskins is like for a defensive player:
"You can play well against them. We could’ve played better, but as far as shutting them down. . . . I don’t know if it’s possible with a dynamic quarterback like him, who can kill you running and throwing," Tuck said.
He paused, then continued.
"Pretty much, you’ve got to get lucky."
- The Giants' special teams didn't help. The snap by Zak DeOssie on Lawrence Tynes' missed 43-yard field goal might have been the worst of DeOssie's career. It was so far on the wrong side of holder Steve Weatherford that it had to screw up the timing of the kick. Tynes fell on his sword, saying "It's a kick I should have made," but that one is entirely on DeOssie. Two penalties on Jim Cordle, one negating a 49-yard David Wilson kickoff return, also hurt.
- Contributor Mike Farley e-mailed me before kickoff last night and asked simply "do you have a bad feeling about the game tonight?" Truth of the matter is the Monday Night Football setting and the fact that the Giants could have taken firm control of the division with a victory, made this a game that -- if you want to be honest with yourself -- you had to figure the Giants would find a way to lose. After the game, it seemed almost like the Giants expected it, too.
"In typical Giants fashion, we're going to make it difficult for ourselves, going back and forth and things like that," wide receiver Victor Cruz said in a postgame locker room that was less aggravated and more at peace with an outcome they tried to avoid but could now see coming in hindsight. "At one point in the season last year, we became consistent and became a pretty good force on offense and defensively, as well. We know at some point we're going to get to that, and we just got to get through the grind of this season, get through the grind of these last four, and finish the season strong."
- The Giants committed an uncharacteristic nine penalties, many of them costly. The most memorable were Eli Manning being called for intentional grounding in the red zone, Will Beatty costing the Giants a first down with a holding penalty on their final drive and Cordle's hold on Wilson's big kickoff return.
- Final thought. Despite the loss the Giants control the division. They face the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles in their final four games. If they can win three of four they put the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in positions where they have to run the table and go to the tie-breakers (which I honestly haven't figured out yet) to determine the winner. Even 2-2 could get it done.
Regardless, as I wrote Monday night, the race to the finish line is on. Now we see if the Giants can pull themselves together enough to finish what they started.