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Giants-Bills: 5 plays that changed Sunday’s game

New York Giants v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Giants battled tooth and nail with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football. Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen made their return to Buffalo as the Giants took the Bills down to the wire, but ultimately lost 14-9.

There was drama, elite defense, and a brawl. The Giants forced two turnovers, held Josh Allen to 169 yards passing, and had an opportunity to win the football game with zero on the clock after a defensive pass interference penalty gave the Giants the football at the one-yard-line

The Bills were favored by 15 points at home, and the Giants were one yard away from pulling off the upset victory. The defense played incredibly well. Bobby Okereke continues to solidify himself as a $ 10-million-a-year linebacker. The defense harassed Josh Allen all night, and Okereke was excellent against the run and the pass.

The Giants had the Bills right where they wanted them, despite a tragically bad mishap at the end of the first half. New York was primed to seize on the upset victory, but they couldn’t finish. An unfortunate loss that could have been a season-defining win for New York. Here are the five impactful plays, or sequence of plays, from the game:

Play 1: Last play

Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott opted for a field goal attempt with 1:29 left in the game; Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass missed the field goal, and Tyrod Taylor led a 13-play, 56-yard, drive that set the Giants up in a third-and-4, where tight end Darren Waller (12) caused pass interference.

The penalty gave the Giants one extra play with zero seconds on the clock. All the Giants needed was one yard, and they would win the football game. The Giants motioned Darius Slayton (86) tight to the stack, attempting to create a switch; if a switch transpired, Waller would have inside leverage against Kaiir Elam (24).

Taron Johnson (7) didn’t switch coverage, and he took inside leverage against Waller. There is a clear defensive hold that could have been called. Still, Waller had a realistic chance at the football, and the win. Here were his comments about the play after the game:

“There was contact, but I’m not somebody that’s going to get into what a call should have been or telling officials how to do their job because there’s a way for me to make that play there, and it wasn’t made, so that’s what I focus on,” Waller said.

There was contact, but I’m not surprised the flag wasn’t thrown since Waller had a realistic shot at the football, and because the Giants just received a pass interference on the previous play. Every point was valuable in this defensive standoff, and poor process cost the Giants points in the first half.

Play 2: Leaving points on the board

Elam committed pass interference in the end zone on Slayton, giving the Giants the football at the 1-yard-line with no timeouts left and 14 seconds left on the clock in the first half. The above frustration displayed by Brian Daboll pertains to quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who heedlessly checked into a run call, leaving the Giants no time on the clock when Saquon Barkley (26) was stopped.

The Giants should have gone up at least nine points while receiving the impending kickoff, but bad management of the clock did not allow it. This play was a microcosm of the Giants’ 2023 season through five weeks.

Play 3: Quintin Morris

Other than the mis-managed clock at the end of the first half, the Giants coaching staff positioned themselves well with a lead late in the fourth quarter. After the Giants kicked a field goal on fourth-and-1 to go up by two, the Bills responded with a 12-play, 75-yard drive, that ended with a 15-yard strike to tight end Quintin Morris. This gave the Bills a 14-9 lead, which forced the Giants to become one-dimensional behind a suspect offensive line.

Play(s) 4: An ascending linebacker tandem

Bobby Okereke played well against Seattle and had his true breakout last week against Miami. He carried that positive momentum into Week 6, and had a phenomenal game against the Bills. Both Okereke and second-year linebacker Micah McFadden have been far better than the Giants’ 2022 linebacker unit. Here was Okereke’s first huge impact in Week 6:

Okereke punched the football out of the grasp of wide receiver Gabe Davis, and McFadden fell on the football to secure the turnover. That wouldn’t be the first time the tandem would combine to earn a turnover:

There were multiple occasions similar to the play above where Okereke used his 34½-inch arms to close throwing windows. Okereke sunk to undercut the route and tipped the ball, allowing McFadden to intercept the pass. The Giants are +5 in turnovers over the last two weeks, yet the offense hasn’t assisted the defense. The Giants haven’t scored an offensive touchdown since Matt Breida’s Week 3 short-field touchdown.

Play(s) 5: Second-to-last drive

The Giants had an opportunity to put points on the board before their final drive, which resulted in zero points. With 3:48 left in the game, down 14-9 with three remaining timeouts, the Giants turned the football over on downs, after a solid start. New York converted a third-and-6 on a 7-yard pass from Taylor to Waller.

Taylor then found Wan’Dale Robinson on first down to give the Giants’ offense a second-and-5 situation at the Giants’ 41. New York rushed the next play, to maximize play out-put, but the Bills tackled Barkley for a loss, setting up a third-and-8. Taylor threw two incomplete passes, and the Giants turned the football over on downs. There were opportunities to be seized, but the Giants offense just couldn't secure them.