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Giants-Saints ‘things I think’: The Giants crashed back to reality Sunday afternoon

The ride was fun while it lasted, but the Saints exposed the Giants for what they really are on Sunday

New York Giants v New Orleans Saints
It was that kind of day for Tommy DeVito and the Giants.
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The magic carpet ride had to end at some point for Tommy DeVito and the New York Giants. It did just that Sunday as the Giants couldn’t handle the New Orleans Saints, losing 24-6.

This loss wasn’t DeVito’s fault, but it was a harsh reminder that the Giants remain a limited football team. And DeVito, an undrafted free agent quarterback, might not be the second coming of Brock Purdy — or whoever you want to dreamily compare him to.

“Collectively just not good enough,” said head coach Brian Daboll. “Pretty much take any area. It wasn’t good enough.

“Nothing was where it needed to be today. Just overall not good enough.”

The three-game winning streak the Giants entered Sunday with, and the DeVito-mania that it caused, was a fantastic interlude in a season that hasn’t been what the Giants hoped it would be. Sunday was a reality check for the Giants.

The Giants benefitted during their winning streak from a 12-3 advantage in the giveaway/takeaway ratio. Sunday, neither team committed a turnover. In a turnover-free game, the Giants simply weren’t good enough to hang with the 7-7 Saints in a harsh environment inside the Caesar’s Superdome.

The Giants, perhaps with the exception of field-goal kicking from Randy Bullock and punter Jamie Gillan, didn’t do anything well on Sunday.

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The offense was inept.

DeVito missed an opportunity on the Giants’ first play, underthrowing an open Darius Slayton on a deep ball.

Things never got better.

There was a great one-handed catch by Saquon Barkley to help the Giants get an early field goal, and a 29-yard catch and run by Darren Waller in his return to action, but that was about it for offensive highlights.

The pass protection, so good a week ago when the Giants did not surrender a quarterback sack for the first time all season, crashed back to earth and was generally atrocious. DeVito was sacked seven times and hit nine times. Giants quarterbacks have now been sacked an unbelievable 76 times through 14 games, worst in the NFL.

Many of those sacks seemed to disturbingly involve veteran guard Justin Pugh and rookie center John Michael Schmitz being unable to pick up twists or stunts. That really shouldn’t happen in Week 15, especially when the current offensive line has started five consecutive games together.

“They did a good job running ‘em,” Daboll said. “We didn’t do a good enough job of blocking ‘em.”

No, they didn’t.

Wide receivers didn’t do a good enough job getting open, or catching the ball. Barkley had nine carries for 14 yards, 1.4 yards per carry, with a long run of 4 yards. There simply wasn’t any place for Barkley to run. And, by the end of the third quarter, not much point in handing him the ball.

The Giants went 2 of 16 (12.5%) on third down and totaled just 193 yards of offense while averaging 3.2 yards per play.

The defense was ineffective.

New Orleans quarterback Derek Carr was sacked once, by blitzing safety Jason Pinnock. He was hit just twice, by Pinnock and blitzing linebacker Bobby Okereke. The defensive line and edge rushers never touched him.

Carr went 23 of 28 for 218 yards, a 134.9 passer rating and three touchdowns. With no pressure on him, it didn’t seem to matter whether the Giants were in man or zone coverage. Saints’ receivers were open most of the afternoon.

With the score 7-6 at the half, the Giants allowed scores on three straight New Orleans possessions — a 70-yard touchdown drive, a 25-yard field goal drive and a 78-yard touchdown drive — to blow the game open.

“He’s a vet in this league, and we didn’t do a lot to get him off his rhythm,” said linebacker Bobby Okereke. “They were just executing. They were hitting their shots, they were hitting their check downs, run game was bleeding on us. They just played a more complete game than we did.”

Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux were non-factors in Sunday’s game, and even without their best receiver, Chris Olave, New Orleans did whatever they wanted through the air.

The Giants aren’t officially eliminated from the NFC playoff race, but talk of a miracle run to the playoffs after a 2-8 start should now be over. As far as the 2024 NFL Draft order, Tankathon has the Giants with the No. 7 overall pick. The Giants are in a group of four teams at 5-9, but the Chicago Bears and New York Jets are ahead of the Giants based on strength of schedule.

“We’re all pros,” Daboll said. “You get ready to play the next week. That’s our job.”

This isn’t the end of DeVito. Daboll said he will continue to be the starting quarterback. It is, though, the end of a magical few weeks for DeVito and the Giants. Now, it’s back to the stark reality that they aren’t a very good football team — and that two of their final three games will be against the Philadelphia Eagles.