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Giants vs. Chiefs: 5 plays that changed the game

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

The New York Giants come away from Arrowhead Stadium with a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, but the loss didn’t manifest in a predictable manner. The Chiefs were 10.5-point home favorites, and the Giants lost, 20-17. Despite the close game, I don’t believe this was a moral victory.

The Giants could have won this game - that is true, but the stubborn issues that permeate this 2021 Giants team continuously find ways to present themselves. Poor clock management, strange timeout usage, inconsistent red-zone offense, and an inadequate offensive line are reasons for this loss, and they’re reasons for several Giants’ losses this season.

Head coach Joe Judge promised to represent the blue collar nature of the greater New York City area, and that promise is not being fulfilled. Insanity has been defined as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This Giants team keeps making these same mistakes, and yet too often their outcomes are disappointing losses in winnable games.

Football games have to be won, and these mistakes have to stop, or at least stop being so prevalent on game-day. There’s going to be a lot of laps come next practice.

Below are five plays, or sequences of plays or play types, that led to this primetime Giants loss, the seventh prime time loss of Daniel Jones’ career (he’s only played in seven prime time games).

I tweeted this after the devastating loss on Thursday Night Football to the Washington Football Team. This loss to the Chiefs wasn’t as dramatic as that week two debacle, but it still leaves a sour taste.

I didn’t include any of the touchdowns in the plays below. The Tyreek Hill touchdown was crucial because it capitalized on the Daniel Jones’ interception we’re about to break down. The Evan Engram touchdown was after the Logan Ryan fumble. The Kyle Rudolph touchdown was great to see because it was on a fourth-and-1 play, and it was the Giants scoring in tight - something that doesn’t happen often with this team. Then there was the Derrick Gore touchdown, which was by far the worst drive by a Giants’ defense that just couldn’t stop the run from a two-high shell. All of these plays could have been on this list. Here are the non-scoring plays I selected.

Play(s) 1: Turnovers

It’s November, and I suspect apple turnovers are a sweet Thanksgiving custom. If that’s the case, the Giants and Chiefs started this game in the spirit of the holidays; hey, it was the first game played in November.

After a 13-play, 70-yard drive, the Chiefs were on the 5-yard line on third down. The Giants dropped eight into coverage while linebackers Tae Crowder (48) and Cam Brown (47) do an excellent job ensuring Patrick Mahomes (15) doesn’t rush for a touchdown. Mahomes tries to do Mahomes-like things and squeeze the football into a tight area; he is successful in this task, but wide receiver Josh Gordon (19) can’t secure the pass. Gordan types it, altering the ball’s path, which leads to the pass deflecting off Jerrick McKinnon’s (1) helmet, where Julian Love (20) tracks it and intercepts the pass.

Hazzah, the Giants’ defense, came up with a huge play - something they would continuously do throughout this game. As soon as the excitement of the interception waned, Daniel Jones (8) got into the holiday spirit of giving and gifted the ball back to Kansas City deep in Giants’ territory.

New York aligns in a 3x1 set with what appears to be slant/flat/curl to the top with a backside stick route to Darius Slayton (86). Jones makes a young quarterback error and fails to read weak-side linebacker Willie Gay (50). Jones telegraphs this throw and his tunnel vision is his demise as Jones throws the ball directly to Gay for an easy interception.

This was an important fumble to stop a solid Chiefs drive, and it helped spring the Giants’ offense into their very own touchdown drive. Logan Ryan (23) punches the ball out of Travis Kelce’s (87) grasp. The play acted as a huge momentum swing for the Giants, but sadly it wasn’t enough.

Play(s) 2: More undisciplined football

There are too many penalties to cut up for GIFs, but this Oshane Ximines (53) offside negated an impressive Darnay Holmes (30) interception. Patrick Mahomes may not throw this football if the flag isn’t thrown, but this “play” is more about the totality of the 10 penalties that went for 88 yards.

The penalties included a holding call against Nate Solder, an illegal touching by Cam Brown, a false start by Will Hernandez, two taunting penalties (one by Collin Johnson and another by Elijhaa Penny), and two offsides. Joe Judge preaches fundamentals, discipline, and not defeating yourself, and the Giants have continuously made mistakes that aren’t conducive to the success of that message.

Play(s) 3: Help your defense out

The Giants’ defense was playing a great game against Mahomes. They kept the Giants’ hopes alive, and they even held the Chiefs to a field goal, effectively tying the game. New York’s offense had a solid drive to start with just under nine minutes to go in the game.

Elijhaa Penny’s boneheaded taunting penalty was bailed out by what looked like a touchdown-saving defensive holding penalty against Darius Slayton. The penalty on Penny is inexcusable, and a player as experienced and smart as Penny should know not to toe the line in that situation.

As the Giants approached midfield, their offense stalled. Slayton dropped a mediocre Jones’ pass on second-and- 7 near the line of scrimmage that set up this third-and-7 play.

With under five minutes left, the Giants can’t convert on this play. The throw to Booker was across Jones’ body, and the pressure on the stunt defeating Billy Price (69) negated Jones’ chances of getting to the first down marker with his legs. It was at this moment that I said to myself ... the Giants are losing this game.

The Giants punt the ball, and the Chiefs are able to kick a field goal. New York’s offense had no shot of getting Graham Gano into field goal range with the Chiefs pass rushers pinning their ears back against this Giants offensive line. If the Giants were going to win this game, they had to do something on this drive.

Play 4: Phantom face mask penalty

The referees did not win this game for the Chiefs. The Chiefs hardly won this game for themselves. Kansas City did its part in trying to lose this football game, but the Giants hot potato’d the victory back to Kansas City with undisciplined football. With that stated, this call was egregious, and it did significantly work against the Giants.

It isn’t easy being a referee; I get that. But reactionary calls to something one thinks he or she sees is a disservice to the zebra stripes. Obviously, the referee didn’t see the face mask because it did not happen, so why throw the flag?

The game moves quickly, and mistakes certainly happen. However, there should be some contingency that mitigates plays like this altering the outcome of games.

Play 5: Pitch it, Daniel

The Giants received the ball down 14-10 at halftime, facing a third-and-1 situation. Making an offensive statement out of halftime could have provided the Giants the necessary momentum to secure this upset victory.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett went back to the option well - a play that worked well in last week’s win over Carolina. It was a smart play call by Garrett, but Daniel Jones failed to pitch the ball to Devontae Booker (28). Jones kept the ball and attempted to gain the yard by himself, despite the two defenders in the area. He was stopped, and the Giants punted the football.

This wasn’t a huge turning point kind of play, nor was it one that will make the highlight reel for the Chiefs. But picking up this first down and keeping the chains moving while possibly getting points on the board would have been crucial in this close game.