INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Here’s all you need to know about Sunday’s Giants game:
Their best play of the afternoon, one that felt as if it could keep them competitive in the game and possibly turn the momentum in their favor, was a fourth-down stuff of a quarterback sneak on which the Chargers were penalized . . . and it hurt them.
That’s the kind of day (season? decade?) it has been for the Giants, who were drubbed, 37-21, at SoFi Stadium. Because the Chargers were flagged for a false start on that snap, the play by linebacker Benardrick McKinney to push Justin Herbert back and force a turnover on downs technically never happened. Instead of being stopped at the Giants’ 5 and having to settle for a seven-point lead, Los Angeles simply walked back 5 yards and kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 17-7.
That was about as close as this embarrassingly lopsided game got. The Giants trailed 37-7 at one point but scored twice in the final 4:33 to somehow make a 16-point loss seem better than it actually was. They even recovered an onside kick with a little more than a minute to play, but Mike Glennon’s pass was behind Sterling Shepard, tipped in the air and intercepted.
Not even Joe Judge could whitewash this one with positive spins.
"It wasn’t good enough to have success," he said of his team’s error-plagued performance. "Simply put, you have to go out and execute . . . You can’t afford with how fine a line it is between success and coming up short in this league to go out and make mistakes."
Said safety Logan Ryan, who was trailing on a key 59-yard touchdown pass late in the first half: "It’s not OK how we came out and performed today."
While the Giants have been used to inept offense and had minimal expectations with Glennon playing in place of Daniel Jones for a second straight week, it was the failures of a defense that had been keeping them in most games this season that was so glaring.
Justin Herbert shredded the Giants for 275 yards and three touchdowns, zipping the ball all over Southern California. The Chargers registered an astounding 26 first downs, one for every two offensive plays run by the Giants.
Glennon finished the game 17-for-36 for 191 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a TD. A big chunk of those passing yards came on one 60-yard catch-and-run by Kyle Rudolph in the first quarter that set up a touchdown pass to fullback Eli Penny that tied the score at 7. Glennon also hit Saquon Barkley for an 18-yard garbage-time touchdown with 4:33 left.
The Giants fell to 4-9, which, in this 17-game season, secures their fifth straight losing record and eighth in the past nine years.
The dispiriting loss came at the end of a long week spent training at the University of Arizona between the games in Miami and Los Angeles. The last time the Giants actually were home in New Jersey, they were coming off a victory over the Eagles that gave them a semblance of relevance. They will return there on Monday evening losers of two straight and an NFL afterthought with a month remaining. They’ll face the first-place Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
In the third quarter, the Giants started pulling out as many tricks as they could muster to try to spark anything positive. None of it worked.
They attempted a fake punt, with Riley Dixon trying to throw a pass to Keion Crossen, but the ball sailed over Crossen’s head and incomplete. They tried a double-reverse-screen — a play just as hyphenated as it is obscure — with a handoff to Barkley, a flip to Darius Slayton, a pitch back to Glennon and then a throw to Barkley. All that effort, and it was incomplete (not that Barkley had any room to move had he caught the low throw).
How about a flea-flicker? Yeah, tried that, too. Gain of 2 yards to Devontae Booker that didn’t even matter statistically because the Chargers were offside. The Giants gave them back those 5 yards with a false start on the very next play.
As the Giants entered desperation mode late in the third quarter, they couldn’t even muster the dignity of a turnover on downs on fourth-and-10. Glennon was sacked by Joey Bosa and fumbled, and the ball was recovered by the Chargers with 23 seconds left in the period. They wound up scoring a touchdown on that possession to go ahead 37-7.
So the Giants have four games remaining this season to do . . . something. Maybe.
"I expect the players to fight through these last games of the season the way they fought to finish the game today," Judge said. "I expect to see them come to work. I expect them to be positive. I expect them to be good teammates, take coaching and make plays on the field . . . We’re going to finish everything, guys. We’re not going to quit, we’re not going to give up, we’re not going to stop fighting."
Not a word about winning, though. In the immediacy of Sunday’s game, that concept seems too foreign to even mention.