Through their first seven games, the New York Giants lived by keeping games close entering the fourth quarter, playing sound football and capitalizing on opponents’ mistakes down the stretch to win games.
Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks the Giants followed the first part of their formula. They fell behind, as they have in every game this season. They kept the game close, heading to the fourth quarter trailing by a field goal.
They could not, though, follow the final part of the script. Sunday, it was the Giants who made the late mistakes — including a Richie James fumbled punt that set up the Seahawks’ final touchdown.
Here are a few of the ‘things I think’ after Sunday’s game.
Live, and die, by the fourth quarter
During the first seven games, the Giants were +36 in the fourth quarter, having outscored their opponents 58-22. The only game during which they had been outscored in the fourth quarter was the Week 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, when they were outscored 10-3.
Sunday against Seattle, the Giants lost the fourth quarter 14-3.
The Giants watched Tyler Lockett atone for an earlier dropped touchdown pass by beating Adoree’ Jackson and Xavier McKinney for a 33-yard score that gave Seattle a 20-13 lead. They watched James fumble his second punt, leading to a Kenneth Walker touchdown with 5:22 to play that put the game out of reach.
The Giants couldn’t find their fourth-quarter mojo on offense. They had a 12-play drive stall and net only a Graham Gano field goal. They went three-and-out after the Lockett touchdown.
“We just didn’t do enough today all the way around. Again, give Seattle credit,” said head coach Brian Daboll. “It’s hard, the ball is important, we got to do a better job of taking care of it, we got to do a better job of executing and finishing drives, converting on some third downs particularly early on in the game.”
Giants’ turn to make key mistakes
James’ two fumbles cost the Giants 10 points, not to mention taking two possessions away from the Giants’ offense.
“Taking care of the ball is one of our main goals and obviously we didn’t do it and then they got the ball in good field position,” Daboll said. “You turn the ball over in your side of the field it’s tough.”
The miscues by James were not the only ones by the Giants on Sunday. A 42-yard James’ punt return that would have put the ball at the Seattle 35-yard line in the first quarter was nullified on a highly questionable blindside block call against Jason Pinnock.
There appeared to be a blown coverages on a first half Geno Smith to D.K. Metcalf touchdown pass.
Daniel Jones missed a wide open Lawrence Cager for a potential big play in the first quarter.
There were two false starts by substitute right tackle Tyre Phillips and a delay of game.
The Giants went just 6 of 16 on third down and 0 for 1 on fourth down while allowing Seattle to convert a pair of fourth downs on a second-quarter scoring drive.
“Just didn’t do enough down the stretch, didn’t make enough plays,” said quarterback Daniel Jones.
I point out the fourth quarter and the overall mistakes for a reason. The Giants had won four times in seven games when trailing entering the fourth quarter. They have had five come-from-behind victories.
The Giants had some thrilling victories over the season’s first seven weeks. The way they are trying to play, though, leaves them with a razor-thin margin for error. Along the way there will be some gut-wrenching losses.
Like Sunday against the Seahawks.
How awesome was it to see Nick Gates get back on the field? And to see him throw the key block on Saquon Barkley’s 1-yard touchdown run, basically driving a Seattle defender across the formation?
“Special moment ... Surreal for a little bit,” Gates said of the play.
I have said it before, but for me Gates is the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Period.
Wide receiver need
Sunday’s game continued to showcase the Giants’ weakness at wide receiver.
Darius Slayton had a terrific games with five receptions for 66 yards, a couple of them coming on critical third downs. Wan’Dale Robinson, David Sills and Marcus Johnson, though, combined for just four catches totaling 23 yards.
It is obvious the Giants need more talent at wide receiver. Will they wait until the 2023 NFL Draft to try and find it, or will they make a move for at least incremental help before Tuesday’s trade deadline?
The Giants now get a well-deserved bye week. Daboll was in no mood to hear it Sunday evening, but the first half of the season was a resounding success for the Giants.
“We’ve got a long season to go. We were 3-1 in first quarter, three and one in second quarter. Obviously not good enough today. A lot to work on like I say every week,” Daboll said. “Don’t like the results of today but Seattle earned those results and we didn’t so we’ll just come back, we’ll make corrections, you do some self scout and things like that during the week and try to fix some of the things that you know we need to fix like we do every week.”
No one foresaw the Giants heading to their bye at 6-2. They are. They have legitimate playoff aspirations, which no one would have predicted. Despite Sunday’s result they have a lot to feel good about, and to look forward to.
“There’s a lot still out there for us. I think today showed that,” Jones said. “6-2 is not bad, but there’s a lot of work to do.”