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Packers 38, Giants 13: Five things we learned

What lessons can we take from Sunday’s season-ending defeat?

NFL: NFC Wild Card-New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants are down and out of the NFL playoffs.
Green Bay Press Gazette-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants’ season is over. There won’t be a third run through Lambeau Field to an improbable Super Bowl title. The Giants lost, 38-13, Sunday to the Green Bay Packers in the Wild-Card round of the NFL playoffs. What did we learn about the Giants in defeat? Let’s take a look.

Self-inflicted wounds were deadly

All season long we have watched the Giants try to fight their way through self-inflicted wounds, most of which came from the offense. Sunday, they came from everywhere.

There were a pair of dropped touchdown passes of offense. There was an inexplicable third-and-1 carry for Bobby Rainey that failed to produce a first down and set up Aaron Rodgers’ end of half Hail Mary. There was that Rodgers’ Hail Mary, during which Giants’ defensive backs inexplicably allowed Randall Cobb to get behind them. There was Rainey stepping out of bounds at the 3-yard line while fielding a kickoff. There was a 23-yard Green Bay punt return and two kickoff returns of more than 30 yards, breakdowns that were rare for the Giants during the season.

Defense couldn’t rescue the Giants this time

While the Giants were going 9-2 over their last 11 regular-season games, the team’s extraordinary defense continually bailed them out regardless of what situation the often-flailing offense put them in.

Sunday, that defense simply couldn’t do it one more time.

Missed offensive opportunities, special teams struggles that tilted the field in favor of Green Bay, an injury to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and more magic from Aaron Rodgers was simply too much for the Giants’ defense to overcome.

That, however, should take nothing away from the extraordinary season the Giants enjoyed on the defensive side of the ball.

The “Boat Crew” will be a story

Like it or not — and no one likes it — the whole “Odell Beckham Jr, and other Giants’ receivers party in Miami” story will be a story because Beckham and Sterling Shepard had critical early drops that prevented the Giants from building a significant early lead. One does not necessarily have anything to do with the other, but appearances matter. It ends up not being a good look, and it’s something Beckham will continue to hear about.

Where was Tavarres King all year?

So, maybe the Giants should have dusted off wide receiver Tavarres King long before Week 17. King followed up a 44-yard catch in Week 17 with a 41-yard touchdown catch Sunday. All season long we talked about the Giants’ need for more play-making and about the inability of Victor Cruz to consistently get open. Perhaps King, who was active for only six games and had only two regular-season catches, should have gotten a bigger opportunity.

This WAS a good year

When the fog clears from your season-ending tears, and perhaps your own self-inflicted wound — that hang over you are going to wake up with Monday morning — you should realize this was a good season for the New York Football Giants.

After three straight losing seasons they went 11-5 and made the playoffs. They found a young head coach with a bright future. Whatever quibbles you have with Ben McAdoo, and I do have mine, you need to objectively recognize that much. They have a largely young roster that experienced its first taste of the playoffs, and left with a bitter memory that Giants’ fans have to hope drives them to be better and more focused on the things that matter going forward.

“It sucks. It’s a horrible feeling,” Odell Beckham Jr, said.

Yes, it is. Right now. In the end, though, you are left with a football team you should feel good about. Chalk this up as a missed opportunity. The bright side, though, is that perhaps it leads to better things down the road.