Sunday’s 17-0 loss to the Tennessee Titans was, obviously, a poor effort all the way around by the New York Giants. They were dominated from start to finish by the Titans, and fortunate that Tennessee only scored 17 points while pretty much having their way on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Let’s assess the carnage in our traditional “Kudos & Wet Willies” review.
Kudos to ...
Evan Engram — With Odell Beckham Jr. missing a second straight game the Giants needed to make Engram a focal point of the passing attack, and the second-year tight end responded with a nice game. Engram had eight catches in 12 targets for 75 yards, much of that yardage coming after the catch.
Engram could have had a bigger game if not for a couple of missed throws by Eli Manning. Engram was the target on well designed screen pass Manning overthrew. The quarterback also missed an open Engram in the end zone for what could have been a late-game touchdown.
Riley Dixon’s improv — The Giants’ punter made lemonade out of lemons near the end of the first half. On fourth-and-10 from the Giants’ 41-yard line with :26 left in the half Dixon bobbled a punt snap. Recognizing at that point that everyone on both teams had turned to run upfield, he ran 14 yards for a first down at the Tennessee 45. The Giants, though, couldn’t turn that opportunity into any points.
Pat Shurmur’s first challenge — The Giants’ coach challenged after Ukeme Ilegwe appeared to mess up when trying to down a punt. After grabbing the ball inside the 10-yard line it looked like Ilegwe was just going to run into the end zone. Antonio Hamilton tried to stop him and the ball squirted out for an apparent touchback. Shurmur challenged on the basis that Ilegwe had possession of the ball and two feet down before losing the ball, and replay proved him correct. That saved the Giants 11 yards, and taught at least one writer a rule he didn’t know.
Wet Willies to ...
Run defense — Derrick Henry ran 33 times for 170 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. As a team, the Titans ran 45 times for 215 yards. The Giants didn’t hold up well at the line of scrimmage and didn’t tackle well when they had the chance. Basically, they got run over.
“I don’t think we tackled well. We weren’t physical enough, and the results were what they were,” was the summation of defensive lineman Josh Mauro.
He was absolutely right.
Offensive line — Just like the defense, the Giants’ offensive line got manhandled by the Tennessee defense. The Giants couldn’t open holes for Saquon Barkley. They couldn’t protect Eli Manning. They couldn’t figure out where the Titans were coming from much of the time, and seemingly couldn’t slow them down even when they did. This game was a reminder that the line, while improved from where it was earlier in the season, isn’t yet a finished product.
Eli Manning — This was a Bad Eli game. With no Odell Beckham Jr., no running game, not enough protection and not enough help from receivers who had a hard time hanging on to passes in the wind, cold and driving rain at MetLife Stadium, Manning had a miserable day. He threw a bad interception that cost the Giants a third quarter scoring opportunity. He tried to do too much under pressure and fumbled inside his own 20-yard line, setting up Tennessee’s second touchdown. He missed the aforementioned throws to Engram, and probably a couple of others.