The New York Giants tied the Washington Commanders in a pivotal Week 13 matchup at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The 20-20 final is the first tie for the Giants since - ironically enough - a 1997 Week 13 game against Washington that finished 7-7.
Disappointing would be one adjective to summarize the Giants’ tie against Washington. The Giants were home underdogs to a team with a worse record, which was primarily due to Washington’s recent success and the Giants' recent struggles.
Despite that, New York had several chances to win the game. Self-inflicted wounds and a poor second-half offense led to an overtime period that was suffused with offensive mistakes.
One of the biggest moments of the game was a first-and-10 12-yard completion to wide receiver Darius Slayton with 6:22 left in the game; New York possessed a touchdown lead (20-13) and had the football over midfield. Unfortunately, Giants’ center Jon Feliciano flexed his arms through a crowd of Washington defenders and was flagged for taunting - not a smart move.
New York was virtually in field goal range, but the penalty pushed them back 15 yards, and Daniel Jones was sacked a few plays later, leading to a punt after which Washington scored with an eight-play, 90-yard drive. A terrible penalty to take for New York, and it put a fatigued Giants defense back on the field.
The Giants’ offense did no favors for their defense, which was on the field too often in the second half.
The #Giants scored a TD on their 1st POS of the 2nd half (off a WASH fum)— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) December 4, 2022
Other than that, the OFF went THREE & OUT 3 times, and FOUR & OUT once to conclude the half before overtime
The Giants' defense allowed an 11 play, 12 play, and 8 play 90 yd drive that only yielded 7 pts
The #Giants had -7 yards of offense on their final three drives in regulation— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) December 4, 2022
Penalties, an ineffective run game, and misconnected deep shots led to one of the worst halves of offensive football for the Giants this season.
New York had several opportunities to end this football game, and their much-maligned triage unit known as their defense bent but did not break in the second half. Edge defenders Azeez Ojulari, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence harassed quarterback Taylor Heinicke all game, but New York did not play complementary football.
The Giants will have a chance to redeem themselves in Week 15 in Washington against the Commanders, who have a bye week next week. Here are the five plays, or sequences of plays, that led to this tie.
Play 1: Scary Terry
Washington #Commanders WR Terry McLaurin slips away for the score pic.twitter.com/lBNcq3EX5K— Win Big Sports (@WBSNsports) December 4, 2022
Washington ran a mesh concept and put stress on the man coverage of New York. On third-and-5, Heinicke found Terry McLaurin (17), and Fabian Moreau (37) missed his tackle. McLaurin walked into the end zone to give Washington a 10-point lead in the first quarter.
McLaurin led Washington in targets with 12, receptions with eight, and yards with 105. He was the go-to target for Heinicke, and the Giants did not have an answer for the talented wide receiver. A healthy Adoree’ Jackson would have helped challenge Heinicke’s favorite target, but c’est la vie.
Play(s) 2: Responsive offense
The Giants were down 10-0 after Washington’s first two possessions. New York fumbled the football on its first offensive possession and went three-and-out in their second. Giants’ kicker Graham Gano was able to bring the score to 10-3 after his 48-yard field goal on the Giants’ third possession.
New York’s defense forced a three-and-out after a Justin Ellis sack, and the Giants’ offense showed some life on their ensuing possession.
Darius Slayton making it look easy— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) December 4, 2022
(via @Giants) pic.twitter.com/vZgCs8DHSQ
Slayton’s developing a reputation for creating explosive plays through the air in one-on-one matchups, albeit the connection was not there late in the game on a few deep shots. Still, Slayton makes a 55-yard catch to help spark the inconsistent offense, but the Giants still had to convert this third-and-7:
Jones didn’t like what he saw downfield, so he tip-toed down the sideline for an important conversion to extend the drive. Jones was excellent with his legs all game; he finished with 71 yards on 12 carries. On the next play, Barkley rushed for a tying 13-yard touchdown:
Do your thing, 2️⃣6️⃣#ProBowlVote @saquon#ProBowlVote @saquon#ProBowlVote @saquon— New York Giants (@Giants) December 4, 2022
: FOX pic.twitter.com/U64vhF7xhs
Play(s) 3: Eight-play, 90 yards
After the Feliciano penalty, the Giants punted the ball back to Washington, which mounted an eight-play, 90-yard drive in less than two minutes that ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass to rookie Jahan Dotson (1).
Arguably, this fourth-and-4 conversion by Heinickewas the most important play of the game. Under pressure, Heinicke hit Curtis Samuel (10) for 20 yards off the scramble drill. Heinicke’s throw across his body was impressive, and he followed that play up with a 25-yard pass to Samuel.
Washington targeted rookie UDFA Zyon Gilbert (38) in the slot. Samuel stacks, stems inside, and breaks into space underneath the clear out on the seven route. That is a very impressive route by Samuel. On the next play, the Giants' defense struggled to take down Jahan Dotson on the touchdown catch-and-run.
Jahan Dotson from Taylor Heinicke for the game-tying touchdown!— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) December 4, 2022
Commanders-Giants is going down to the wire
The touchdown tied the game, and no one would score again.
Play(s) 4: Critical sacks
Other than the Terry McLaurin third-and-5 touchdown and, of course, the fourth-down conversion above, the Giants’ defense was relatively strong on third and fourth downs. Washington was 3-14 in third-down efficiency, with several impact plays.
Second-year pass rusher Azeez Ojulari (51) looked explosive and had a big impact in the game. The Giants' defense typically struggles to open the second half, but Ojulari forced a Taylor Heinicke fumble on third-and-8 with the score tied.
WELCOME BACK @_Azeez_8!— New York Giants (@Giants) December 4, 2022
: FOX pic.twitter.com/gzqkPWwkc4
The Ojulari strip-sack set up this 6-yard touchdown strike to Isaiah Hodgins; the young receiver ran a very nice whip route to create outside leverage and space for Jones.
.@Giants take the lead on the Daniel Jones to Isaiah Hodgins TD!— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2022
: #WASvsNYG on FOX
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/OXYVVHbGn9 pic.twitter.com/buRtjLza6Q
The short field helped the struggling offense come away with a touchdown. A little later in the game, a third-and-13 sack by Dexter Lawrence (97) forced a 52-yard field goal by Joey Slye that went wide right.
The combination of Lawrence’s sack and a Cole Turner holding penalty positioned Washington outside of field goal range, and it kept the score differential at seven. Sadly, after the missed field goal, the Giants' offense went three-and-out with -5 yards on the drive.
The Giants weren’t the only team sacking the quarterback; New York finished with five sacks and Washington four. Much like some of the Giants’ sacks, Washington’s were impactful plays that ended drives. Here are two at the end of the game.
Play 5: Miscommunication
The Giants struggled to muster any significant offense in the second half, and errors on that side of the football continued to persist into overtime.
On New York’s second possession in overtime, they found themselves in a third-and-3 just beyond midfield; a field goal would win the Giants the game. Wide receiver Richie James (80) aligns next to Jones in the shotgun for a split-back look, with Saquon Barkley (26) on the opposite side of Jones.
It appeared like the Giants were going to use a familiar concept, with James sliding underneath Jones as the quarterback went into the mesh point with Barkley. There seemed to be a miscommunication between James and Barkley, and the two ran into each other, leaving Jones helpless in the backfield. Jones gets “sacked,” and the Giants punt.
There were several plays to choose from throughout this game. Questionable time management, poor offensive output, and bad tackling were realities that may have led to the end result. As previously stated, the Giants had opportunities to win this game, but they couldn’t get out of their own way.