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Giants-Rams ‘things I think’: Loss to Rams an example of what happens to bad teams

Giants could have won this game, but got in their own way

Syndication: The Record
Brian Daboll looks during Sunday’s game how a lot of Giants fans probably felt after Sunday’s loss.

The New York Giants are 5-11, with one more game to get through before packing it in for the offseason and trying to figure out what went wrong. Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams was probably typical of why the Giants are what have been this season — a bad football team.

The Giants did a lot of wonderful — even miraculous — things on Sunday against a Rams team that is better than they are.

  • The Giants got an unbelievable 94-yard punt return touchdown from Gunner Olszewski, who looked like he should have been spun down at about his own 20, to pull within a point in the fourth quarter.
  • They got an 80-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Darius Slayton, a beautifully thrown and masterfully tracked pass that probably traveled 60 yards in the air. Per Giants PR, this is the first time in franchise history the Giants have scored two touchdowns of 80 or more yards in a game.
  • They got 319 passing yards from Taylor, who replaced Tommy DeVito in the starting lineup.
  • They got a 24-yard touchdown run on a reverse from wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson.
  • They got three turnovers, two interceptions and a fumble, from the Rams.
  • They held the Los Angeles offense to its lowest point total in the Rams’ last six games.
  • Offensively, the Giants compiled 389 total yards — their second-highest total of the season.
  • They got help from Rams’ kicker Lucas Havrisik missing two extra points.

Yet, they lost.

And, more to the point, they deserved to lose.

“Doesn’t get much more frustrating than that, you know?,” said Waller. “A lot of chances to make a play, to take the lead, win the game, just to be in control. Didn’t execute on any of ‘em.”

Waller couldn’t pinpoint one, saying that all of the mistakes and missed opportunities were “jumbled together.”

Indeed, there were missed opportunities galore. The game ended up being the prime example of a team having a bad season finding a way to lose despite doing more than enough good things to win.

If you had Taylor on your fantasy football team this weekend, his numbers were fantastic. There were the 319 passing yards, the touchdown and 40 rushing yards.

There were also, though, far too many missed opportunities.

The most egregious was an errant, incomplete throw on a 2-point conversion try following the Olszewski touchdown with 3:27 left in the game. Scrambling, Taylor got outside the pocket. He could complete a pass to Saquon Barkley. He could run. Either decision would have resulted in a two-point conversion that would give the Giants a 27-26 lead.

Admittedly in the throes of what he termed “indecision,” Taylor shuffled a pass behind Barkley that fell incomplete and left the Giants behind.

“I take full responsibility for that. That falls on nobody but myself,” said Taylor, admitting he couldn’t decide whether to throw it to Barkley or run it himself. “It’s not an excuse. I’m not making an excuse for the throw.

“Any time there’s indecision on the football field it’s never a good thing.”

There was an errant third-down throw on the final drive that Taylor fired into the turf, missing an open Wan’Dale Robinson.

There was a fourth-quarter incompletion barely too far for Darren Waller to catch on a second-and-11 that would have been a long gain. The Giants ended up punting.

Taylor had plenty of company in the ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ department.

The Giants had several critical fourth-quarter penalties.

  • A 47-yard pass from Taylor to Jalin Hyatt with the Giants trailing by seven in the fourth quarter was negated by a Daniel Bellinger holding penalty.
  • A 15-yard scramble by Taylor for a fourth-quarter first down was wiped out by a John Michael Schmitz holding penalty.
  • A holding penalty on Darnay Holmes on the final Los Angeles punt with 1:08 remaining cost the Giants 10 yards of field position Mason Crosby badly needed on his game-winning 54-yard field goal try.
  • A holding penalty on Cor’Dale Flott that gave the Rams a first down preceded a 28-yard touchdown run by Kyren Williams that gave the Rams a 26-19 lead.

There were plenty of other bad, or at least mystifying, plays.

  • Hyatt had a first-quarter drop on a third-down deep ball. Rather than being in Rams’ territory threatening to score, the Giants punted.
  • Trailing by seven in the fourth quarter, the Giants went for a first down on fourth-and-1 at the Los Angeles 33-yard line. Running a drag route, Hyatt somehow ended up catching Taylor’s pass behind the line of scrimmage. The 1-yard loss meant the Giants lost possession of the ball.
  • Giants’ receivers had the dropsies. In addition to the Hyatt drop, Barkley had a pair of drops, and Bellinger and Sterling Shepard had drops.
  • Adoree’ Jackson failed to push Puka Nacua out of bounds on a short throw, leading to an 80-yard pass that set up a 2-yard Williams touchdown run in the third quarter.
  • Crosby missed an extra point.
  • The offensive line surrendered six sacks, and the Giants have now given up a league-worst 83. Without Taylor’s mobility, it would have been worse.
  • Taylor and center John Michael Schmitz messed up an exchange on a fourth-and-1 at the Giants’ 47-yard line in the second quarter, leading to a turnover on downs and setting up the Rams for a touchdown shortly before halftime.

There was also questionable management of the Giants’ final drive.

The Giants had no timeouts when they got the ball for the final time with 1:08 to play. After a 31-yard scramble by Taylor moved the ball to the Los Angeles 34-yard line, the Giants spike the ball.

Did they really have to? Run a play there and they still probably have 30 seconds on the clock.

The most questionable play, though, came on second down. Already in precarious field goal range for 39-year-old Mason Crosby, who would have needed a 52-yard kick in the swirling Meadowlands winds from that spot, the Giants chose to run a draw play to Barkley.

It lost two yards, pushing the ball back to the 36-yard line and meaning Crosby would have to try from 54 yards if the Giants couldn’t advance the ball on third down. They couldn’t, as Taylor fired an incomplete pass.

“I’d like to have it [the play call] back,” said head coach Brian Daboll.

Taylor refused to criticize the play call.

“I have confidence in every play that we call, putting us in the right situation to go out there and execute,” he said. “I mean, at the end of the day we didn’t do a good job of executing that draw play and have to learn from it and move forward.”

The Giants, Daboll said, felt they were “right at the edge” of Crosby’s field goal. Crosby said he “felt like we were well inside the range there.”

Turned out, the Giants were fooling themselves. Crosby’s kick never had a chance, falling well short.

“I thought I hit it pretty good,” Crosby said. “We were inside the line that I said was max there.”

Instead, the Giants ended up kicking themselves for, more or less, kicking away a game they should have won with their own miscues.

“We competed to the end, just a few plays here or there that obviously we’d like to have back,” Daboll said.

“There’s been a lot of different moments during the season where you just leave frustrated and just leave with a bad taste in your mouth because you know that you should execute better and take advantage of those opportunities to win games,” Waller said. And the wins don’t just fall in your lap in the NFL, you gotta make ‘em happen. And there’s been a lot of situations where plays needed to be made. They just didn’t get made this year.”

No, they did not. The Giants have tried, but there have been a few games and a whole lot of decisions they would probably like to have do-overs on.