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Giants-Jets: 5 noteworthy plays that led to the Giants’ loss

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

The New York Giants lost 13-10 in overtime to the New York Jets on Sunday. On it’s surface, it seems odd to be disappointed with a loss when the third-string quarterback was forced to play, but the context surrounding the loss caused dismay, and is apropos for the 2023 Giants.

Kicker Graham Gano missed two kicks, one of them was on fourth-and-1 with :28 left in the game. After the game, he claimed his knee was not the issue, and that he “just has to be better.”

The Giants are now 2-6. Their last two losses were winnable games with devastating self-inflected mistakes. Their defense forced seven turnovers over their last three losses, and the offense has zero turnovers in those three games.

The Giants did not want to throw the football with rookie Tommy DeVito at quarterback. Since the Giants had the lead, they leaned on Saquon Barkley, who set a career high with 36 carries.

The Giants had 11 three-and-outs with two-missed field goals and three drives of just four plays. In the press conference at the end of the game, Brian Daboll discussed the conservative nature of the game-plan and how that was somewhat independent from DeVito’s presence.

Having a run-oriented game plan is not unreasonable, but not even attempting a pass on three consecutive drives that led to only 10 plays invites criticism, and evokes an image of Joe Judge.

Teams that fully commit to playing not to lose and eventually lose in such a brutal fashion welcome the fan-repudiation of the tactic. This was a collective loss with dubious coaching from the New York Giants.

In what seems like a lost season, where the Giants dug themselves into a massive hole, New York traded their shovels in for an excavator. It’s another disappointing loss, in a wildly unfortunate season. Here are the five noteworthy plays - or sequence of plays - from the Giants’ Week 8 loss.

Play(s) 1: Final offensive drive of regulation

Again, ESPN Analytics had the Giants with a 97.8% chance of winning this football game on a first-and-10 with 1:26 left in the fourth quarter at the New York Jets 26-yard line. The situation was set up by the New York Giants defense and their fourth-and-10 sack of Zach Wilson; Kayvon Thibodeaux recorded the sack, and the Jets lost 15 yards, which put the Giants in prime location to win the game.

The Giants were up by three, and a first down would have secured victory. It was a wild emotional rollercoaster of watching Thibodeaux’s sack after Allen Lazard failed to secure the third-and-ten pass to Zach Wilson’s consecutive 29-yard completions that led to Greg Zuerlein’s field goal.

Saquon Barkley (26) left some meat on the bone with this first-and-10 6-yard run. Barkley did a great job working to the cut-back lane where he noticed CJ Mosley (57) work over the blocks. Great vision by Barkley, but he seemingly went down early to set up a second-and-4. Unfortunately for the Giants, Barkley was bottled up on second and third down, which put the Giants in a fourth-and-1 situation.

Brian Daboll opted for the field goal from Gano, who missed a kick earlier and has struggled through some knee pain. Gano missed. Here’s Daboll’s explanation:

“There’s always a flip side.” The Giants continued with their conservative approach, and the coin landed on that flip side, again. The Giants defense allowed two long completions, and the Jets spiked the football with one second left to set up Zuerlein’s field goal. The defense played very well until those final few plays.

Play(s) 2: Two consecutive 29-yard completions

Wink Martindale opted to dropeight into coverage. The Jets had zero timeouts with 24 seconds on the clock. The Giants weren’t concerned with the middle of the field, which is understandable, but the Jets quickly pick up 29 yards to set up another 29-yard completion with just 17 seconds left:

The Giants run man coverage and Allen Lazard (10) gets away from Adoree’ Jackson (22). The Jets quickly get up to the line of scrimmage and spiked the football with only :01 left on the clock. The Giants went to overtime, took a penalty on first down, punted, and the Jets were able to get Zuerlein back into field goal position:

Play(s) 3: Overtime defense

We can’t blame the defense for this loss. They did everything they could to win this football game. They forced two turnovers, sacked Zach Wilson four times, including a fourth-down sack that gave the Giants’ offense the football in Jets’ territory with less than two minutes left in the game. However, two mistakes on third down in overtime allowed the Jets’ offense to move the football:

Deonte Banks (25) was called for defensive pass interference on the impressive catch by Garrett Wilson (17). However, there’s an egregious hold on Dexter Lawrence that allowed Wilson to get this football off. Missed calls happen, and I’m not insinuating the Giants would have scored if they got the football back, but that’s a bad miss by the officials.

A few plays later, the Jets found themselves in a third-and-5 where Wilson severely under-threw a pass to Malik Taylor (86). Jackson, who was in recovery mode, worked into Taylor who had massive vertical leverage, and ran through the receiver, which prompted a 30-yard pass interference that secured the Jets in field go. Zuerlein booted the winning field goal on the next play.

Play 4: Breece gone in a breeze

The Giants defense bottled up the Jets’ rushing attack. The Jets averaged 2.6 yards per carry; Hall only had 1.4 yards per carry on 12 carries. Still, a check down pass from Wilson went for this 50 yard touchdown to Breece Hall (20). Hall escaped coverage, ran threw some tackle attempts, and accelerated for the go-ahead touchdown late in the first quarter.

While the Giants defense has played better over the last few games, they’re still susceptible to missing tackles. They had already missed more tackles through seven games than they did through 19 games last season.

Play(s) 5: Kayvon Thibodeaux

Let’s end this on a positive note that didn’t lead to the Giants’ loss. Kayvon Thibodeaux was a hot name heading into Week 8, after a highly-discussed sports-radio debate in the New York City area. Some members of said debate claimed that Thibodeaux was a bust. I have no clue if Thibodeaux was aware of the comments, but his presence was quickly felt in this game:

Thibodeaux added two more sacks in the game, including this one on fourth-and-10 to give the Giants a 97.9% chance to win:

Thibodeaux had a fantastic game, and he put the defense on his back. It was fitting that he had this performance after the questionable debate on the radio, and it’s excellent for the Giants’ defense. This loss is devastating, but I don’t want Thibodeaux’s performance to go under the radar.