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Giants-Commanders ‘things I think’: Huge missed opportunity for Giants

Chance to take big step toward a playoff berth slips away in tie with Washington

NFL: Washington Commanders at New York Giants
Graham Gano (9), Jamie Gillan (6) and Nick Vannett (46) react as Gano misses a potential game-winning 58-yard field goal at the end of overtime on Sunday.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants didn’t quite know how to react to Sunday’s 20-20 tie with the Washington Commanders.

Edge defender Oshane Ximines said he had never been involved in a tie.

“It’s my first time, so it’s a new experience for me,” Ximines said. “But it kind of feels like a loss. The goal is to win. Nobody’s happy for a tie.

“Inside personally, I just don’t feel like happy.”

Edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux called it “unfamiliar.”

“When I walked off the crowd wasn’t booing, they weren’t cheering, there no noise. So that was that was different,” Thibodeaux said. “Within here, we know we just got to keep getting better, you know, we didn’t have the outcome that we wanted. So we just got to continue to get better and, you know, prepare for Philadelphia.”

Dexter Lawrence said the fact that it was an NFC East game made not winning tougher to take.

“You don’t want to tie a division game. That was a big game around this time too for us,” Lawrence said. “You know, we didn’t lose, that’s as positive, we get to see them again. You just don’t want to tie those games. You want to win those games.”

Quarterback Daniel Jones said the Giants were “disappointed” with the outcome.

“I think we’re all pretty disappointed with the result. Certainly not the one we were looking for,” Jones said. “We’ll go back to work and clean up a lot of things. I think it’s safe to say we’re disappointed but looking forward to getting back to work and working on things we got to improve on.”

There is no doubt this felt like a missed opportunity for the Giants. Because it was.

The Giants gifted Washington three points at the beginning of the game when Daniel Jones fumbled and Jamin Davis recovered at the Giants’ 47-yard line, leading to a Commanders field goal.

Leading 20-13 in the second half, the Giants’ offense faltered.

The Giants punted on four consecutive possessions in the second half after a Daniel Jones to Isaiah Hodgins gave them the lead on their opening possession of the third quarter.

The Giants squandered a late-game opportunity to take a two-score lead. After forcing a Commanders’ punt from their 6-yard line, the Giants had the ball at Washington’s 47-yard line with 6:22 to play. A 12-yard pass to Darius Slayton put the ball at the 35-yard line, seemingly in field goal range for Graham Gano. A taunting penalty on Jon Feliciano for flexing in a crowd of Washington players pushed the ball back to the 47.

The Giants punted. Washington drove for the game-tying score.

Feliciano was aggrieved, and he know his wallet will likely be lighter after this shot at the officials:

“It sucks, especially when you’re playing two teams.”

Still, Feliciano is in his eighth NFL season. You would think he would know better.

“We shouldn’t even be in that situation,” said head coach Brian Daboll. “We get the ball there; it’s going to be a first down. We’re at the 35 (yard line). Probably (would have) make it a two-score game. Those are things we can’t even make it close.”

The Giants had an opportunity to win the game in regulation even after squandering that opportunity. The Commanders had a fourth-and-four at their own 27-yard line with 2:47 to play. They let Heinicke escape the pocket, though, and he lobbed a desperation 20-yard throw to Curtis Samuel for the first down.

Two plays later, Jahan Dotson victimized undrafted rookie free agent slot cornerback Zyon Gilbert for a 28-yard score to tie the game.

Even then, the Giants could have won the game. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Daniel Jones fired a deep pass to a wide open Darius Slayton. Somehow, Slayton appeared to get turned around and couldn’t haul in a pass that would have put the Giants in Washington territory with roughly 90 seconds to play.

“It’s kind of a little bit of a different angle when you’re going up that seam, but like I said, I had it and I just have to find a way to bring it in on the way to the ground,” Slayton said. “Maybe [I could have kept running], but I chose to turn and jump. I have to live with what I chose.”

The Giants punted.

On their second possession of overtime, the Giants botched a third-and-3 play at the Commander’s 45-yard line when Saquon Barkley and Richie James appeared to run into each other, leaving Jones to run for no gain on the busted play.

Daboll chose to punt and play for another opportunity.

The Giants got the ball back, but a 58-yard Graham Gano field goal into the wind was hardly a realistic opportunity.

The Giants are left with an empty feeling. And the knowledge that not winning this game could prove costly as they try to reach the NFC playoffs.

“We knew we had chances to win the game and if we just executed, we probably had a really good chance to win the game,” Slayton said. “It’s just disappointing when you don’t do what you need to do to close out a game, even though it technically isn’t a loss, you want to win. You play to win. Nobody plays to tie.”