Football has three phases, and the New York Giants are failing in all of them
Football has three phases, and the Giants are failing in all of them. First it was the offense that scored just three points at Dallas in Week 1. Then the special teams gave up a back-breaking 88-yard punt return to the Lions in Week 2. And this week, in Tampa Bay, the defense had its turn in a 25-23 loss. What was supposed to be one of the league's top units surrendered seven yards per play to Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. And in crunch time, that ballooned to 11.9 yards per play as the Bucs marched for a go-ahead score and then—after the Giants’ offense reclaimed the lead—moved 62 yards to set up a game-winning field goal as time expired.
In part, New York has been unlucky—it'll face a losing squad for the first time next week when the Chargers come to town. But this is a team that finished in the top five in defense last year and that brought in new weapons for a supposedly Hall of Fame caliber quarterback (Eli Manning), who still has arguably the league's most talented player (Odell Beckham Jr.). And here that team is, in October, losing the battle of New York to a Jets team that is trying to tank . . . by two games! In a season that's seen several other projected contenders start slow (Patriots, Seahawks, Cowboys), New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers called the Giants "far and away the No. 1 flop of the first month of the NFL season." Then he went further. "This truly might be the most disappointing and underachieving Giants team of all time," he wrote. Now that's saying something.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Gary Gramling freaks out over a thrilling Sunday afternoon ... Peter King reports on a "surreal, slightly insane day" in Baltimore ... Michael Beller covers the Bills' emergence ... and more.
LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Andy Benoit previews Chiefs-Washington ... and more. Stay tuned.
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1. Bills 23, Falcons 17. Introducing your AFC East leading Buffalo Bills. Matt Ryan drove Atlanta 65 yards, but needing just one yard to set up a first-and-goal in the final minute, he threw two incompletions that led to a turnover on downs and a home loss. Buffalo's defense had another impressive showing, headlined by rookie corner Tre'Davious White's 52-yard fumble return for a touchdown, ultimately the difference in the upset.
2. Panthers 33, Patriots 30. New England officially has a defensive crisis. After being held to 13 points at home last week, Carolina exploded for 33 on 444 yards at Gillette Stadium, sealing the win with a last-second field goal.
3. Texans 57, Titans 14. Holy moly, Deshaun Watson. The rookie scored five times (four through the air plus one on the ground). On the other side, Marcus Mariota is getting an MRI on his hamstring today that will set the timetable for his return.
4. Lions 14, Vikings 7. A left knee injury knocked rookie running back Dalvin Cook out and Minnesota’s offense stalled. On one side of the two-minute warning, Case Keenum took a sack on third-and-goal from the three—killing that drive. On the other side, Adam Thielen fumbled with 1:51 left to end the home team's final push just as it was beginning.
5. Broncos 16, Raiders 10. The big story coming out of this one is the health of Derek Carr after the Raiders’ QB left with a back injury in the third quarter (it sounds like he'll be fine). Enter E.J. Manuel, who played decently before throwing a game-ending interception at the Denver eight-yard line just after the two-minute warning.
6. Rams 35, Cowboys 30. L.A. running back Todd Gurley outdid Ezekiel Elliott, finishing with 215 scrimmage yards and a score; the Rams’ offense overall committed no turnovers and ended the day leading the league in points per game.
7. Saints 20, Dolphins 0. Sunday started with New Orleans' defense reviving the team's season. The Saints return stateside 2-2 after two road victories, while Adam Gase is now answering questions about whether Jay Cutler will stay as QB.
8. Steelers 26, Ravens 9. Le'Veon Bell returned to form (186 scrimmage yards) for Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Baltimore's offense struggled again, this time at home. It now sits 30th in the league in yards per game.
9. Seahawks 46, Colts 18. Seattle entered halftime trailing Indianapolis, 15-10, staring at what would have been one of the worst home losses of the Pete Carroll era. But then both sides of the ball found their form en route to a 36-point second half.
10. Buccaneers 25, Giants 23. Congrats to New York coach Ben McAdoo for finding a new way to lose. This time, on a soggy Raymond James field, Odell Beckham Jr. was called for stepping out of bounds on a two-point try, leaving the door open for Tampa Bay to drive 59 yards and kick a game-winning field goal. The Giants return home 0-4.
11. Eagles 26, Chargers 24. Los Angeles didn't suffer a last-minute loss this time because it didn't allow itself to. Instead, Philadelphia wound out the final 6:44 after a Chargers touchdown, converting three third-and-shorts to move to 3-1.
12. Jets 23, Jaguars 20 (OT). These guys traded five punts in overtime, and we nearly had our first tie with the new extra period rules, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Paul Posluszny put New York in field goal range. Josh McCown's game-winning drive: four plays, two yards. But hey, 2-2.
13. Cardinals 18, 49ers 15 (OT). The only touchdown of the day came on the final play: a 19-yard connection between Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald.
14. Bengals 31, Browns 7. Nothing like a game against Cleveland to get your confidence back. Andy Dalton threw four touchdowns as Hue Jackson dropped to 1-19 during his Browns tenure.
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You are either a Jay Cutler split out wide, or a Matt Ryan in the same role (I think I'm more Matt).