The last two games for the New York Giants have been excruciating losses that, quite frankly, they not only could have won but should have won.
This week, the Giants defense played well enough to win against a winless and very beatable Atlanta Falcons team. Still, a couple of crucial penalties and a couple of dropped interceptions hurt them.
The offense left a lot to be desired on Sunday, and the pass protection issues were again on display, as were some of the coaching decisions.
Let's break down the five plays that are most responsible for this latest loss.
No. 5: 2nd-and-goal, ATL 8, 8:06, Q1
Daniel Jones sacked for an 11-yard loss in the green zone.
The Giants had an opportunity to put a touchdown on the board on their first drive of the day but came up short of that goal. Backing up a bit, the Giants' offense has been good on their opening drives this season because they are scripted. But on this drive, not even the script accounted for a critical play that altered the desired outcome.
The Giants are down in the green zone (a designation that has been adopted over "red zone" to indicate that the offense should cash in) and are in a trips formation 9three receivers bunched to one side) from the shotgun.
Tight end Evan Engram ran a crossing route from the third position, receiver Darius Slayton was in the slot and ran a corner route that looked like it could be to set up a rub route for Sterling Shepard on the outside. But Shepard ran a whip route (he ran inside a few yards and whips around back outside) which comes open.
This concept should have resulted in a touchdown, but instead, left guard Ben Bredeson was caught by an inside swim move by Grady Jarrett, and the center, Billy Price, fell and was unable to provide help blocking.
This leaves Daniel Jones with no opportunity to get rid of the ball as he's dropped for an 11-yard loss to bring up a 3rd-and-goal from the 19-yard line. That, in turn, forces the offense into a conservative play call, and ultimately they settle for three points instead of six.
No. 4: 1st-and-10, ATL 17, 10:53, Q2
Quarterback fumble leads to a second and long.
On their third drive of the game, the Giants threatened to score. Eleven plays into the drive, New York has the momentum to wear down a porous Falcons defense.
The offense set up in the shotgun trips to the right with a tight end attached to the left. The look suggests they were going to run a zone read.
The blockers were able to get a body-on-a-body, and the backside read key was evident along with the tight end flowing to the backside second level block had Jones decided to pull it down.
However, the ball ricochets off Jones's hands, and he had to scramble to dive on the ball. The lost yardage resulted in 2nd-and-21, and again the offense switched into a conservative mode to ensure they didn’t squander the chance for a field goal.
The Giants get the three points, but this is yet another example of a drive where they left points out there on the field.
No. 3. 1st-and-10, NYG 29, 1:54, Q2
A questionable unnecessary roughness penalty leads to 1st-and-goal for Atlanta.
With time running down in the half and the Giants having done a good job of holding the Falcons scoring, Atlanta, on first down, runs a play action. Quarterback Matt Ryan throws the ball to receiver Olamide Zaccheaus on a post route.
Giants safety Xavier McKinney met the receiver and delivered a big hit. Lo and behold, out came a flag for unnecessary roughness on the hit.
It's challenging to understand what the official wanted McKinney to do there. He did not lead with his head in his attempt to dislodge the ball from the receiver. If McKinney is not allowed to hit the receiver hard, he might as well just have let the receiver run across the middle with impunity.
Because there was incidental helmet-to-helmet contact, the flag is thrown, and the penalty is a big one as it puts the ball half the distance to the goal line. Two plays later, the Falcons scored their first touchdown of the game.
No. 2. 2nd-and-goal, NYG 6, 5:08, Q$
Dropped interception keeps hope alive for Atlanta.
After being held to a short gain on 1st-and-goal, the Falcons lined up in a reduced split shotgun formation. The Giants sent a five-man pressure that got Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to throw the ball off his back foot.
He overthrew tight end Kyle Pitts, and Giants cornerback Adoree Jackson was right there in a perfect position to make the Interception. However, the ball hit him in the hands, and he dropped it, a surprising sight considering Jackson's past work as a punt returner where he's shown reliable hands.
The play allowed Atlanta another opportunity for points, and sure enough, as the drive continued, they would get those points. The Giants were called for pass interference on the ensuing play, which set up a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Atlanta then punched it in on Lee Smith's 1-yard touchdown catch to tie the game 14-14.
No. 1: 2nd-and-10, NYG 49, 2:12, Q4
Sack and fumble lead to third and forever.
The Giants lined up in shotgun in a 2x2 formation, with a tight end in the slot to the left. Receiver Kenny Golladay lined up outside on the left against single coverage playing eight yards off of him.
This look should have been a simple throw-and-catch for Jones and Golladay. Alas, it wasn't.
The right end pushed vertically to occupy the safety from coming over to Golladay. Barkley’s sit route out of the backfield occupied the linebacker so that he couldn't drop underneath Golladay.
Unfortunately for the Giants, right tackle Nate Solder allowed Dante Fowler Jr. to use a speed rush (really his only consistent pass rush skill) to get by him for the sack of Jones before he was able to throw the ball.
This sack resulted in a 3rd-and-19. Once again, the offense went into a conservative play call (see a pattern yet?).
When the Giants punted the ball away, they could not pin the ball deep inside the 20-yard line. That gave the ball to Atlanta with a shorter field and hence fewer plays needed to get into field goal range, which they did to win it.
Not capitalizing when the victory was squarely in your hands is why the Giants are 0-3 today. These first three games were very winnable; the Giants' schedule takes a turn toward the more challenging starting this weekend against New Orleans and then against Dallas, both back-to-back road games.
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