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Upset in KC was oh so close for Giants

Darnay Holmes #30 of the Giants intercepts a

Darnay Holmes #30 of the Giants intercepts a pass intended for Byron Pringle #13 of Kansas City that was later overturned during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium on November 01, 2021 in Kansas City,. Credit: Getty Images/Jamie Squire

KANSAS CITY, Mo.

They were this close to pulling off a major upset of the two-time defending AFC champions . . . on the road . . . on Monday Night Football . . . with their season on the line.

Darnay Holmes had the ball locked securely in his arms, with his teammates celebrating his interception of Patrick Mahomes inside Kansas City territory with the clock winding down in the fourth quarter.

All that was needed was a short, time-consuming drive from a Giants offense that had been just good enough to keep pace with a once-dominant Kansas City offense.

A touchdown wasn’t necessary. A field goal by Graham Gano would have put the finishing flourish on a 20-17 upset win at one of the NFL’s toughest places for road teams.

And then — poof! — the moment was gone.

And so was the chance for victory.

And, for all practical purposes, so was their season.

Just before Holmes made what appeared to be a huge play to give the Giants a chance to get to 3-5 and help erase at least some of the season’s first-half gloom, a yellow flag flew skyward and effectively doomed their chances. Oshane Ximines had jumped offsides a nanosecond before the snap was delivered to Mahomes, and Holmes’ late-game contribution was erased.

Just like that.

Hopes of an upset effectively were extinguished, too.

Mahomes guided his team down the field, helped along by a facemask penalty on Tae Crowder, for the deciding field goal in a 20-17 Kansas City win.

Yes, Daniel Jones had one last chance, but the final play on the final drive ended with a crowd of Kansas City defenders surrounding him and the ball stripped out of his hands on fourth-and-15.

Done.

The game and the season.

There’s simply no realistic hope of stringing together a winning streak long enough to catch up to the Cowboys or even compete for a wild-card spot. By the distance of a foot or so — or just how much Ximines stepped over the line on his penalty — that was that.

It was another game of missed opportunities. Like the end of the Washington game, when Dexter Lawrence jumped offsides on a missed field goal to give the WFT one more chance to win it. Like the end of the Falcons game, when the Giants couldn’t put away Matt Ryan. Another close game on Monday Night Football, and another loss.

Bad football teams play like this, and right now, the Giants are a bad football team. They’re not epically bad like this year’s Lions or Texans, who are simply incapable of winning from week to week. But at 2-6, the Giants are worse than mediocre, which is saying something in a league built on parity.

Daniel Jones had it right when he offered a reasonable explanation for all that went wrong on Monday night. And on most other occasions when the Giants have lost this season, especially in the close games.

"I think when you’re in tight games and you don’t win," he said, "it’s going to come down to one or two plays. That’s how this league works. Winning comes down to one or two plays. We have to execute at critical points of the game."

Yet they simply haven’t been able to execute in those situations. It happened again against a Kansas City team that was there for the taking.

With Mahomes struggling against the Giants’ simple cover-2 defense, which has two safeties playing deep to prevent the long ball, the Giants kept him in check for most of the night. Mahomes doesn’t have the patience to play dink-and-dunk all game, and it showed against the Giants, who did a good job of keeping everything in front of them on defense.

But the Giants just didn’t have enough on offense to outlast Mahomes, who took advantage of Ximines’ costly penalty and drove his team to set up the winning field goal.

"This game hurt," cornerback James Bradberry said. "We really needed this game, and it was against a really good team. It would have boosted our morale, [but] we made some mistakes."

When is it too late to fix things?

"I don’t know when it’s too late," Bradberry said. "It’s too late when they say we’re out of playoff contention."

They are not officially out of contention, not with eight games remaining.

But let’s face it. This team is just not good enough to make any kind of a run the second half of the season. Monday night’s game, especially down the stretch, proved yet again that there simply isn’t enough there.

Another close game, another close loss.

And so it goes . . .

New York Sports