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Washington 30, Giants 29: 5 plays that changed the game

Giants can’t get out of their own way in loss to Washington

NFL: New York Giants at Washington Football Team Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants were undisciplined in their disappointing Week 2 30-29 loss to the Washington Football Team on Thursday night. There were several opportunities for New York to secure a divisional road victory, but mistakes and inexcusable penalties brought the Giants to their fifth straight 0-2 start to a season.

Big Blue has now dropped two winnable games to start this season. The defense looks like a shell of its 2020 self, despite the upgrade in personnel. The offense exceeded expectations in Week 2, but the uber-conservative play-calling after the James Bradberry interception was frustrating, especially with the way Daniel Jones was conducting himself and the questionable nature of the defense in general.

Jones played one of his better professional games. He was 22 of 32 for 249 passing yards and a touchdown while adding 95 yards and a rushing touchdown on the ground. He also had a long rushing touchdown called back on a weak C.J. Board holding penalty.

This was another disappointing game from the Giants, especially with the loss of offensive line captain Nick Gates. Let’s dive into five plays (or more) that are key takeaways that helped influence the game’s outcome.

Play 1: Butterfingers

We saw an all-too-familiar reminder of Evan Engram’s Week 7 drop against the Philadelphia Eagles last season in this play: Thursday Night Football game, at a divisional foe’s stadium, more than likely would have secured the victory, a frustrating player who struggles to secure the football, etc. Darius Slayton (86) came down with the big 33-yard touchdown pass earlier in the game, but this drop, and the terrible penalties that followed, helped the Washington Football Team secure this victory.

There was 6:25 left in the game when this play happened, and the Giants were up 23-20. Slayton catches this ball, and the Giants take a 30-20 lead. Instead, Slayton drops the ball, Saquon Barkley (26) picks up five yards on second-and-10, and then the Giants have two consecutive false start penalties that force a third-and-15. Jones picks up 11 yards with his legs, and Graham Gano picks up the field goal.

The Giants created way too many obstacles for themselves by making so many mistakes in this game. Jones did an excellent job stepping into the pocket on this play and driving the ball to Slayton. Some may say the throw was a tad too far, maybe ... but that’s undoubtedly a catchable ball that Slayton has to secure in that situation.

Play (s) 2: Two plays?!

The Giants had a 26-20 lead with 4:50 left in the game. The atrocious showing you just witnessed in play one led to the field goal that still made it a one-score affair. The Giants’ coaching staff relied on the defense to play defense - they failed to execute that effectively. It took two plays and 17 seconds for Taylor Heinicke (4) to strike pay dirt against this disenchanting defense. Two plays, 75 yards. The first play is the long strike up the sidelines to the receiving back J.D. McKissic (41). Tae Crowder (48) gets beat on the out-and-up. Here’s the next play:

New York is in zone coverage, and Heinicke puts the pass high where only Ricky Seals-Jones (83) can locate the football. It’s a good throw and even better catch/concentration from Seals-Jones. The Giants’ defense did not slow the attack down and force the clock to wind down. The 2020 defense we applauded for its ability to mitigate explosive plays hasn’t performed anywhere near their expectations through two weeks.

Play 3: Again!

For the second week in a row, the Giants defense allowed a long touchdown drive to end the first half. Last week it was 7-play, 57-yard drive. This week, Washington conducted an 11-play, 84-yard drive, which was capped off by this short J.D. McKissic rushing touchdown to an empty right-side of the Giants defense. The defensive alignment is certainly odd with the way the offense presented itself. I assume the Giants were looking to bring pressure on that left side. Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke reportedly checked at the line of scrimmage and recognized the weakness. McKissic ends up with an easy touchdown run, and it’s another week with this defense allowing long drives that result in six points to conclude a half.

Play 4: Terrible sequence

Unfortunately, the words “terrible sequence” could be assigned to multiple sequences for the Giants in this game. After a 2-yard run by Devontae Booker (28) in the first quarter, the Giants called a timeout as they faced a third-and-2 situation on Washington’s 27-yard line. The Giants receivers weren’t aware of their specific alignments, coming out of the timeout in a disorderly manner. Jones and the receivers attempted to get on the same page as the play clock hit zero, and Andrew Thomas (78) false-started upon seeing the zero.

This turned the 3rd-and-2 situation into a third-and-7, where Montez Sweat (90) defeated Thomas, and Chase Young (99) got around Nate Solder (76) to sack Daniel Jones for a loss of 6 yards. Now, the Giants were out of field goal position and punted the football for a net gain of 28 yards. There are only so many opportunities in football - they can’t be squandered by poor management and costly mistakes.

Play 5: Cherry on top

There isn’t much analysis here. This play was the most frustrating. The steepest drop on a roller coaster I never want to ride. It’s undisciplined, inexcusable, and a bad mistake from a talented player in Dexter Lawrence.

Final thoughts

Several other plays could have easily made this list: the Bradberry interception, the questionable penalty that negated Jones’ long touchdown run, the Slayton touchdown, and other positive Jones takeaways. But these five (ish) plays were indicative of the loss and serve as a microcosm for a team that can’t seem to get out of its own way.