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Giants-Jets ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’: Decisions, decisions

Let’s review Sunday’s loss to the Jets

NFL: New York Jets at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s review Sunday’s stunning meltdown by the New York Giants in a 13-10 overtime loss to the New York Jets in our unique ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ style.

Kudos to ...

Saquon Barkley — How can you not praise what Barkley did on Sunday? Or, at least tried to do? The Giants asked Barkley to try and win them a football game with basically no help from anyone else on offense, and he came within a yard he was not allowed to try for of doing exactly that.

Barkley carried the ball a career-high 36 times and gained 134 yards, earning every last inch of those yards. He caught three passes that, as you could probably guess from the Giants’ franchise-worst -9 passing yards. Barkley lugged the ball 25 times in the second, more than he had in all but three entire games in his career.

Kayvon Thibodeaux — I don’t want to hear about the declined offside penalty on the Jets’ game-tying drive at the end of regulation. Thibodeaux was phenomenal on Sunday. Three sacks, giving him 8.5 on the season. At that pace, he would finish the season with 18 sacks. What ‘bust’ has ever had 18 sacks?

Thibodeaux’s final sack of Zach Wilson, which gave the Giants the ball at the Jets’ 26-yard line with 1:26 to play and a 10-7 lead, should have been the game-clinching play. Thibodeaux had nine tackles, three for loss, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble that led to a Giants’ field goal.

Gunner Olszewski — So, this is what competent punt returning looks like. Olszewski averaged 9.3 yards on six punt returns, including a 15-yarder. He didn’t do anything flashy or spectacular, but he looked like a professional return man. That’s an upgrade for the Giants.

Dexter Lawrence — The big man was practically unstoppable on Sunday. He had a sack, a tackle for loss and five quarterback hits. He pretty much lived within breathing distance of Wilson.

Wet Willies to ...

Brian Daboll — If you read my ‘things I think’ column Sunday night you know I think the end of regulation fourth-and-1 decision was the wrong one. Fifty-eight percent of the 1,938 voters in our post-game poll agree with me. I actually thought both decisions Daboll made to kick the field goal on fourth-and-1 were the wrong ones.

Still, this ‘WW’ is about more than that. It’s about the ‘ride or die with Barkley’ second-half game plan that showed a complete lack of trust in Tommy DeVito. The Giants threw one second-half pass with the undrafted free agent quarterback forced into action. This was Joe Judge against the Washington Commanders kind of stuff without the victory formation quarterback sneaks. If you weren’t going to trust DeVito if and when he was forced into action, why didn’t you insist that a veteran quarterback get signed when Daniel Jones was originally injured?

Sunday’s conditions were sloppy, at best, Darren Waller left the game with an injury and the Giants tried to prevent DeVito from making a mistake against a quality defense. Still, this was play not to lose stuff. Which, inevitably, leads to losing.

There have been some curious roster decisions that both Daboll and GM Joe Schoen have been responsible for all season. There have been some in-game issues all season that fall into the lap of the head coach.

Daboll is not, and should not, be in danger of not getting another season as Giants’ head coach. The honeymoon from the surprising 2022 season when he won Coach of the Year is, though, long over.

Graham Gano — I hate doing it because I believe Gano is trying to kick through injury, but the veteran placekicker missed two game-altering field goals on Sunday. In a game where every inch was valuable and points were like stumbling on pieces of gold, Gano missed kicks from 47 and 35 yards that had been nearly automatic during his 3+ seasons as Giants placekicker — until recently. Gano was accountable after the game, which counts for something. It does not, though, obscure the fact that Gano didn’t do his job on Sunday.

Deonte Banks — The Giants’ first-round pick is a good player. His 1-on-1 matchup with star Jets’ wide receiver Garrett Wilson, though, was not a fair fight. Not close.

Per Pro Football Focus, Banks was targeted 13 times and allowed seven receptions for 100 yards. In addition to all of the NextGen and PFF numbers, Banks committed two penalties — only one of which was accepted — while covering Wilson.

The offense — Aside from Barkley, this was embarrassing. Even before Taylor got hurt, it wasn’t good. The Giants went three-and-out and settled for a field goal after Kayvon Thibodeaux and Jihad Ward gifted them with field position in the red zone with a strip sack by Thibodeaux and fumble recovery by Ward. They punted 13 times. They had a historic -9 net passing yards. They converted just two of 19 third downs.

Kwillies to ...

Giants’ defense — For most of the first 59:36, the defense was outstanding. Thibodeaux was a game-wrecker. Lawrence was sensational. Banks gave up some plays but battled with Wilson. Linebackers Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden made plays. The Jets were 0 for their first 13 third-down conversion attempts. Aside from one 50-yard catch and run touchdown by the phenomenal Breece Hall, the Giants defense controlled the game.

Then, of course, everything fell apart. With Xavier McKinney saying the Giants were in prevent defense, Wilson completed back-to-back 29-yard passes to Wilson and Allen Lazard to put the Jets in position to tie the game, which they did.

In overtime, the Jets went 46 yards in six plays for the game-winning field goal. The Giants allowed their only two third-down conversions of the game, a third-and-10 11-yard completion to Garrett Wilson and a third-and-five 47-yard defensive pass interference penalty on Adoree’ Jackson that positioned the Jets at the Giants’ 15-yard line and basically assured them of victory.