The New York Giants' winning streak was snapped Sunday with a 27-13 loss at the wing of the Seattle Seahawks. New York attempted to paddle toward the deep end of the pool before the deflation of their swimmies manifested in Richie James’ second punt-return fumble that led to Kenneth Walker III’s 16-yard touchdown run.
Big Blue failed to muster much offense throughout the game; Seattle’s run defense held Saquon Barkley to 2.7 yards per carry. Daniel Jones only threw for 176 yards (61 yards at the end of the game). The Seahawks did well to anticipate the rollout/boot-action game.
It was a humbling loss from a now 6-2 team heading into a BYE week before hosting the 1-5-1 Texans and the 1-6 Lions. New York will get back to the drawing board and look to get healthy before returning to action on Nov. 13.
For now, here are the five critical plays, or sequence of plays, that led to the Giants’ loss.
Play(s) 1: Special teams errors
The Giants’ special teams have been turbulent this season, with more lows than highs. James fumbled two punts that stifled most hope of the Giants winning this football game. There was also a dubious illegal blindside block on Jason Pinnock and then another later in the game.
Seattle was up 20-13, and the Giants' defense had held Geno Smith to a three-and-out when Richie James fumbled a punt for the second time. He left the game with a concussion after the play. Two plays later, Kenneth Walker III rushed for this 16-yard touchdown:
The Walker III touchdown was the stake through the Vampire’s heart; the garlic on his pizza; the sun on his skin - sorry, it’s Halloween.
The first fumble led to a Seattle field goal with just over two minutes left in the half. Before the fumble, the Giants' defense had two sacks in three plays:
Leonard Williams (99) feels the leverage of center Austin Blythe (63) while using a timely inside spin move to separate and sack Geno Smith (7). The second sack was recorded by safety Xavier McKinney (29) on a designed blitz that opened the B-Gap where running back Travis Homer (25) failed to recognize the threat.
Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) goes wide, Dane Belton (24) occupies the guard, and McKinney explodes into the B-Gap. Smith didn’t see the pressure coming.
This sequence of plays directly followed Saquon Barkley’s touchdown, which followed the Tyler Lockett fumble on the goal line (Plays 2).
Play(s) 2: Seize their mistakes
The Giants have teetered the narrow line between success and failure all season. They’re a well-coached and prepared team that played relatively mistake-free football through the first seven weeks of the season, but they failed to do so on Sunday.
New York’s modus operandi in 2022 is to take advantage of other teams’ mistakes while not defeating themselves with their own errors. It’s easy to make mistakes in Seattle - the crowd noise was a real issue for the Giants.
However, despite a hostile environment, the Giants forced bad Seattle errors, and it positioned their offense advantageously.
Adoree’ Jackson (22) stripped Tyler Lockett (16) at Seattle’s goal line, setting the Giants’ offense up for an easy Saquon Barkley touchdown.
Saquon Barkley punches it in for the Giants touchdown!! pic.twitter.com/z2yKhzAkfA— Brian Y (@byysports) October 30, 2022
The touchdown tied the score at 7-7 and gave the Giants a glimmer of hope after a dismal half.
New York’s defense is an opportunistic unit that forced three gigantic turnovers in the previous two games; those turnovers helped lead the Giants to victory: Travis Etienne’s fumble, Lamar Jackson's strip-sack, and Jackson’s late-game interception by Julian Love.
Lockett’s fumble appeared to be another example of the Giants’ defense potentially swaying the momentum for Big Blue. New York’s defense held up their end of the bargain after the touchdown with the sequence described in Play 1, but the offense and special teams failed to reciprocate.
Play 3: Lockett’s butter-fingers
The Giants appeared to benefit from another fortuitous event on this third-and-3 drop by Lockett that effectively removed four points from the board for Seattle.
Martindale sends a simulated pressure at Smith, who does a great job holding the safety and finding Lockett downfield, who had Jackson beat by a step. It’s a walk-in touchdown for Lockett, but he allows the ball to fall out of his grasp. Seattle kicks the field goal, and the Giants only go down by three with a quarter plus left in the game — Big Blue had Seattle right where they wanted them.
Play 4: Lockett’s TRICK
Lockett was greedy and took a trick and a treat from the Giants' secondary with a nasty double move that resulted in a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Jackson sat on the double move, and Lockett effortlessly explodes around him for a touchdown. This was the go-ahead touchdown that gave Seattle the 20-13 lead.
Play(s) 5: A 15-play drive, 69-yard drive
The Seahawks’ first touchdown drive was 15 plays, 69 yards and included two fourth-down conversions. The drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf (14). Here are the two fourth-down conversions and the touchdown:
Lockett was aligned in the backfield, and he ran underneath the BUNCH set to the boundary from across the formation. This forced Darnay Holmes (30) to work across the formation and through the traffic of all the crossing routes out of the BUNCH to locate Lockett, who easily catches the football for a first down. It’s a very tough play to defend in man coverage -- well played, Seattle.
The next fourth-and-short conversion is a play Mike Kafka has seen several times in Kansas City. The Seahawks pull the backside guard and tight end Will Dissly (89) with Walker III heading into the mesh point. This gets the Giants’ defense scraping and flowing towards the field side, thinking run; however, it’s a shovel pass to Dissly, and linebacker Micah McFadden (41) is stuck between Walker III and Dissly, a tough play for the young linebacker. The tight end dives forward and earns enough yardage to move the chains.
Metcalf finds a soft spot on a well-designed play with crossing routes to occupy adjacent defenders.