What did we learn Sunday during the New York Giants' 52-49 loss to the New Orleans Saints? Yes, I mean aside from the fact that NFL officiating is incomprehensible sometimes and the Giants are incredibly good at inventing ways to lose games? Let's take a look.
End-of-game punts are a bad recipe for the Giants
Admit it, when the Giants went three-and-out and Brad Wing was trotting onto the field to punt the ball away with 20 seconds left Sunday and the score tied at 49-49, you had a Matt Dodge flashback. I know I did.
Whether the officials got the call right or not on end-of-game face mask call on Brad Wing, what is it about the Giants and these game-ending punt plays? Coughlin was asked why the Giants didn't just punt the ball out of bounds and said "it's not as easy as you say punt int out of bounds. We punted it for distance, we got some distance, they would have had five seconds left had we covered it, they would have been beyond midfield, they would have had one play, that was all. Fine."
For whatever reason, the Giants' punt coverage broke down for the first time all season and Marcus Murphy returned the ball 24 yards to the Giants' 47-yard line, setting off a crazy chain of events that ended in a Giants' loss.
Drew Brees is not Matt Cassel ...
Or Tyrod Taylor. Or Colin Kaepernick. Or Kirk Cousins.
C'mon, are you really surprised by what Brees did to the Giants on Sunday? Have you not been paying attention? Cassel, Taylor, Kaepernick and Cousins weren't good enough to take advantage of all of the things that ail the Giants defense. Brees? He's a future Hall of Famer. With zero pass rush from the front four, apparently no linebackers who can get home on the blitz, an inability to cover the underneath pass and a confused secondary that seeminly couldn't figure out what was happening, Brees had a field day.
The Giants barely hit Brees all day, they had their usual problems covering underneath passes and they had communication breakdowns in the secondary that led to several huge -- and easy -- plays for the Saints. The result was an NFL record-tying seven touchdown for Brees and 511 yards passing.
Yours truly warned about this earlier in the week, writing that "Brees will destroy the Giants' secondary if the pass rush can't make him uncomfortable." They didn't, and he did.
Alex also wrote about the potential for Brees to torch the Giants. So, don't say you didn't have any idea this could happen.
Damontre Moore didn't learn anything
So much for learning a lesson from his benching last week. Two weeks after committing a costly unnecessary roughness penalty against the Philadelphia Eagles, and being kept inactive against the Dallas Cowboys because of it, Moore committed a costly roughing the passer penalty in the third quarter. This one wasn't as egregious as the one two weeks ago, but he hit Brees late and appeared to leads with the crown of his helmet. You can't do either of those things in the NFL. That is Moore's 17th penalty in 38 NFL games.
Damontre Moore on his penalty: "At the end of the day my job is to sack the quarterback and I felt like I was there. It is what it is."— Ebenezer Samuel (@ebenezersamuel) November 1, 2015
Clearly, the 23-year-old Moore still hasn't learned that playing within the rules is also part of the job, and clearly he still cannot be trusted.
The Giants need defensive reinforcements
Jason Pierre-Paul might be back next week when the Giants play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Prince Amukamara could return soon from his pectoral injury. Linebackers Jon Beason and J.T. Thomas III missed Sunday's game. The Giants need those players on the field. Desperately. Soon.
They, once again, had virtually no pass rush on Sunday. They couldn't cover anyone, short, intermediate or long. They didn't really stop he run, giving up 103 yards total and 4.0 yards per carry.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had an interception and forced a fumble that resulted in a Trumaine McBride recovery and 63-yard touchdown run. Other than that, the Saints did what they wanted -- to the tune of 614 yards of offense.
In addition to hoping those players return soon it says here that if the Giants do anything at Tuesday's NFL Trade Deadline it has to be for a defensive player.
The Giants' secondary looked confused ... because it was
If you were watching the Giants cornerbacks and safeties during the game it seemed like they were often frantic before the snap. Then after the snap it too often looked like they had no idea who was supposed to do what. Because, pretty much, that was the reality.
Rodgers-Cromartie seemed to take what could be perceived as a swipe at the defensive coaching staff by indicating that the defense wasn't getting calls quickly enough from the sideline on Sunday.
"I mean with the Saints, they call a lot of plays and get on the field fast and run them. That's their goal: for their offense to line up fast to get our defense off balance," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "And when they are doing that, we as a defense are looking at the sidelines looking for our calls. And when it's not coming in fast enough it's a challenge."
The Giants gave up 511 yards passing, including seven plays of 20 yards or more. There were pass plays of 53, 46 and 34 yards.
"We just had a breakdown in the defense all day and he (Brees) picked us apart," said safety Landon Collins. "We just weren't on the same page in the secondary and it showed."
Rashad Jennings might not be washed up just yet
If you are like me you had to be wondering what the heck the Giants were doing in the second half when Rashad Jennings (two first-half carries for three yards) and not Orleans Darkwa (four carries, 23 yards) started the second half at running back. As it turned out, Darkwa suffered a back injury.
I was figuring the same thing about snaps that were going to Jennings, too, until the 30-year-old started running over people. Jennings had eight second-half carries for 51 yards, finishing with 10 carries for 54 yards. He also had two receptions for 31 yards, including a 25-yard screen pass.
In that second half he ran with authority. He ran, bluntly, like a guy who realized there was a young player trying to take his job. It was good to see.
A second guess ... but not the one you might think
Tom Coughlin wasn't kicking himself for the end of the game punt by Brad Wing that did not go out of bounds. He was upset by the poor coverage, and the penalty that led to a loss. He was kicking himself for a third-quarter decision to punt on fourth-and-3 from the New Orleans 47-yard line with the Giants trailing, 35-28. He opted to have Wing try to pin the Saints deep, but Wing's punt went for a touchback. The Saints quickly went 80 yards in nine plays for a touchdown and a 42-28 lead.
As soon as Wing's punt bounded into the end zone, Coughlin admitted he second-guessed himself.
"I did (think about going for it), but I didn't want to give them the ball at midfield either," Coughlin said. "If I had it over, after the play, I would have done it the other way around. And then I didn't expect him to punt it in the end zone either. I wanted to stop it around the 10. But he punts it in the end zone. After the play, I look in the mirror and say, 'Might as well have gone for it.' "
The Giants' offense can be explosive
We have waited ... and waited ... and waited for an explosive performance by the Giants' offense. Sundya, we finally got one. A career-high six touchdown passes from Manning, three of them to Odell Beckham. Two 14-point deficits wiped out. Seven passing plays of at least 20 yards. A total of 416 yards. And it was't enough to win. Amazing.
Maybe DRC isn't soft after all
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a terrific corner, but he has a reputation for taking plays off and for being a guy who really doesn't like to tackle or be physical. If DRC isn't careful, though, he is going to ruin that reputation. Several times this season Rodgers-Cromartie has laid big hits in the secondary. His hit on Willie Snead Sunday that led to a Trumaine McBride fumble recovery and 63-yard touchdown was just the latest example.
The Giants need to add a tight end
Larry Donnell left Sunday's game during the first half with a neck injury. The Giants finished the game with Will Tye as the only tight end on the active roster. You can be almost certain the Giants will have to add a tight end to the roster before Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jerome Cunningham, who began the season on the 53-man roster, is currently on the practice squad.