As so often happens when the New York Giants play the New England Patriots Thursday’s preseason finale came down to the final possession. The Patriots had just kicked a go-ahead field goal leaving just 44 seconds on the clock.
That Giants could have taken a knee and ended the game, but head coach Ben McAdoo decided to give rookie quarterback Davis Webb the ball and see if he can do what Eli Manning has done so memorably: Lead the Giants on a come-from-behind, fourth-quarter game-winning drive over the Patriots.
After new receiver Ed Eagan opted to take the ball out of the end zone on the ensuing kickoff, Webb took the field with a pair of timeouts and 39 seconds with which to work.
Let’s take a look at what he did.
First-and-10, Giants’ 25-yard line - 0:39
The Giants are in their customary spread offense set with 11 personnel and the shotgun formation.
Webb gets good protection from his offensive line, and targets C.J. Germany for the quick pass to get the drive moving. Germany ran a slant route after faking a fade with the stem of his route. Webb’s throw is high, a problem the strong-armed rookie seems to have when he gets excited, but Germany is able to get his hands on it. Unfortunately, the ball slips through his fingers. Incomplete Pass.
Second-and-10, Giants’ 25-yard line - 0:35 remaining
Playing fast, the Giants have the same personnel and formation on the field as the previous play.
The Patriots rush just four lineman, dropping seven defenders into coverage. And while a rusher gets past Adam Bisnowaty (who had moved to left guard), he is able to push him to the side and create space for Webb to step into the throw. He delivers a great strike to wide receiver Ed Eagan, who got separation and is able to get to the sideline, picking up 19 yards and stopping the clock.
First-and-10, Giants’ 44-yard line - 0:28 remaining
The Giants now have tight end Matt LaCosse in the game, subbing out Jerell Adams. They are still in the shotgun formation, with three receivers to the right, with the tight end detatched from the line of scrimmage.
A pass rusher slips past the left tackle, forcing Webb to do a neat pirouette to avoid the rush. He quickly finds running back Wayne Gallman in the flat with an accurate throw on the run for a 5-yard gain. Gallman is run out of bounds to stop the clock again.
Second-and-5, Giants’ 49-yard line - 0:22 remaining
The Giants keep the same formation as the previous play.
Some pressure leaks around the edge, but Webb once again has Gallman in the flat with a step on the linebacker who has him in coverage. Webb is able to hit Gallman in stride, but the rookie running back has the ball bounce off his hands for an incomplete pass, stopping the clock.
Third-and-5, Giants’ 49-yard line - 0:17 remaining
The Giants keep the same personnel and roughly the same formation as in previous plays. Tight end Matt LaCosse runs an out route, stemming his route right into the safety’s chest plate before breaking toward the sideline to create separation. Webb is able to hit LaCosse in stride for a 10-yard gain, but the tight end isn’t able to make it to the sideline before being dragged down.
The Giants are in New England territory with the clock running, so they use their second timeout.
First-and-10, New England 41-yard line - 0:11 remaining
The Giants are lined up with the same formation and personnel package as before.
The Patriots bring a zone blitz, with just two down linemen. The right outside linebacker starts to rush but drops in coverage on Gallman when he releases into a route. In his place a linebacker brings pressure up the middle.
The Giants pick up the blitz, however pressure still gets to Webb’s left, forcing his throw off target. He has time to once again get the ball to LaCosse but this is probably his worst throw of the drive and is behind the tight end. Fortunately, LaCosse makes a great adjustment to the ball and hauls the pass in for an 11-yard gain. The Patriots manage to keep him in-bounds and the clock running.
The Giants use their third and final timeout.
First-and-10, New England 30-yard line - 0:04 remaining
This is what the Giants have been waiting for. A chance for Aldrick Rosas to show whether he can perform under pressure with a game on the line. The 48-yard field goal attempt is no chip shot, and the Patriots are able to get pressure on him from both edges.
It doesn’t matter, the kick is good.