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Chiefs 20, Giants 17: What we learned from the Giants’ latest loss

We have seen this movie too many times from the Giants

New York Giants v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The New York Giants attempted to grind out a conservative win against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night - it did not work. The Chiefs did everything to lose this football game, but they escaped with a 20-17 victory over the Giants.

We witnessed some similar, all too frustrating, aspects of this New York Giants team. Joe Judge’s conservative nature was combined with more undisciplined penalties from the Giants that helped lead to this loss. The coaching wasn’t necessarily great for the Giants outside of Patrick Graham, who had a great game plan that the Giants’ players executed well.

Some may look at this game as a moral victory since the Giants covered the spread - I’m not quite there. The same problems keep affecting this team’s ability to close games, capitalize in the red zone (consistently), and play from behind; the Giants offensive line is too bad to allow opposing pass rushers to pin their ears back and get after Daniel Jones. We sadly witnessed this at the end of the game.

The Giants problems are deep, and go beyond just injuries, although those don’t help at all. Let’s see what we learned in the Giants’ loss on Monday Night Football.

This defense is back!

The Giants’ defense was a colossal letdown early in the season. The secondary seemed to lack cohesiveness, the pressure was sporadic (at best), and the defense allowed so many late first-half touchdowns. The regression seemed real, but the Giants’ defense assembled a great effort against a poor Carolina offense. My hope was that effort would carry into Monday Night Football. It did!

Yes, the Chiefs offense isn’t playing their best football, but Patrick Graham and this defense did an excellent job eliminating the big play ability of Patrick Mahomes and forcing check-downs behind the line of scrimmage.

Cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and James Bradberry used excellent leverage/positioning to prevent several big plays, and Mahomes failed to have one completion with 20 or more air yards. Mahomes finished the game 275 yards with a touchdown and interception.

The defense was also opportunistic as they intercepted Pat Mahomes at the goalline after two Giants’ defenders blocked the throwing lane of Mahomes, forcing a difficult angle and a tipped pass that was intercepted. Then Logan Ryan punched the ball out of Travis Kelce’s grasp. Winning the turnover battle had to be a major goal for this defense, and they succeeded. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to win the football game.

Where was Kadarius Toney?

Rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney hardly saw the field early in the game. This prompted me to imagine that the first-round selection from Florida was more of a decoy who would play certain snaps because he’s still ailing from the ankle injury that forced him to miss last week’s game. I thought...okay, that’s fair, I guess.

After Dante Pettis was injured, I saw Toney fielding punts on special teams and thought - there’s no chance he’s doing that if he’s nursing an injury.

I’m not quite sure why the Giants didn’t use Toney more early in the game. I get that he wasn’t 100 percent throughout practice this week, but there wasn’t much of a game plan to get Toney going other than his 19 yard pass to Sterling Shepard. Toney only saw 5 targets, catching 4 for 26 yards.

The Giants’ offense faced a defense allowing the 27th most points per game and the 31st most yards per game, and they came away with 17 points and 300 yards (more than 100 less than the Chiefs average). If Toney was healthy enough to field punts, why wasn’t he more of a focal point on offense?

Lack of discipline

Both the Giants and Chiefs made plenty of mistakes causing yellow laundry in this game, but this has been a persistent problem for New York all season. The Giants committed 10 penalties for 88 yards; the penalties included an unnecessary roughness, holding, illegal touching, false start, two taunting penalties, and two offsides - one negating a massive interception by Darnay Holmes, albeit Mahomes may not have thrown the ball if there wasn’t a flag.

Joe Judge and his coaching staff preach the fundamentals ad nauseam. Discipline and avoiding “selfish” penalties are hallmarks of Judge, and the Giants have done little to uphold their coach’s vision through eight games.

The deleterious nature of bad decision-making on the football field leaves yards, and potentially, points on the board. In a close game like this 20-17 loss, every mistake matters, and the Giants had far too many self-inflicted wounds in this game.

There’s a fair argument that would suggest the Chiefs did everything in their power to lose this game. Kansas City had 12-penalties for 103-yards, a costly interception in the red zone, another interception called back by an offsides penalty (bad memories from week two start to manifest in my mind), and a fumble from Travis Kelce, yet the Giants still couldn’t take advantage of a golden opportunity on the road.

Poor use of timeouts

According to Judge, one of the timeouts he inexplicably burned was due to headset issues. That very well may be the case; however, it doesn’t excuse the four other timeouts that were imprudently spent, leaving the Giants with no timeouts as they attempted to get into field goal range at the end of the game.

Judge has some issues with clock management and timeout conservation. It’s fine to be a bit liberal with your timeouts in the first half of games, but to do it in the second half of a close game on the road against the Chiefs is a different story.

I like the cut of Judge’s jib in terms of his rhetoric and the message he portrays. However, this sailboat fails to sail on course and meet the expectations that Judge purports. The winds need to blow in the direction of his message, lest conversations must ensue about his job security here in New York. The Giants can not keep losing close football games with seemingly correctable errors.

More injuries at wide receiver

New York has been wildly unlucky in 2021 with injuries. It’s a legitimate excuse that shouldn’t be overlooked but also doesn’t excuse all of the mediocrity surrounding the 2021 New York Giants. The Giants’ offense has suffered far too many injuries this season, but the wide receiver position has been the most affected.

Sterling Shepard returned from his hamstring injury just to hurt his quadriceps during the game. A very unfortunate situation. One of his primary backups, Dante Pettis, muffed a punt and his shoulder received significant contact from a Chiefs defender, so he exited the game as well.

Toney had his thumb stepped on during the game, forcing him out of the lineup as well. The Giants were already down Kenny Golladay, and now they’re looking at two more injuries that could force players to miss time.