It was nearly a perfect game for a Giants defense that had been manhandled through much of the first three losses.
They had given up only 10 points to a Rams team averaging nearly 30 coming into the game and looking more like the high-flying offense that had gone to the Super Bowl after the 2018 season.
And then . . . one play.
On third-and-3 from the Rams’ 45-yard line, clinging to a 10-9 lead, Jared Goff found his favorite receiver, Cooper Kupp, over the middle for the first down. But the Giants suffered their only blown coverage of the entire game, and Kupp took advantage by racing up the middle of the field for a 55-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 17-9 lead with 8:04 left in the fourth quarter.
The Giants’ comeback fell short in the final minute when Daniel Jones was intercepted near the Rams’ goal line.
"If they don’t score there, they don’t win," cornerback James Bradberry lamented afterward. "We try to limit the offense to zero points on the board. We have to keep getting better."
Bradberry blamed himself for the lapse, although there was a clear miscommunication in the defensive backfield involving other players.
"I stopped my feet," he said. "It was bad technique by me. I should have been able to get him down. Just a miscommunication on the back end. That’s what led to the touchdown."
It was at least a credible effort by the Giants’ defense against one of the league’s most potent offenses. And it left linebacker Blake Martinez convinced that the team’s problems are entirely preventable.
"We’ve been saying each and every week, and I think a lot of people didn’t take it seriously, but we’ve been hurting ourselves," Martinez said. "We can go and compete against anybody. Today, we showed that. But we also showed the things that are hurting us. We’ve just got to keep fixing those things and minimizing those things as much as possible."
This was more indicative of what the Giants can become, Martinez said. The Giants gave up only 58 rushing yards and held Goff to 200 passing yards.
"Our game plan was making that type of team keep having to snap the ball," Martinez said. "Overall, it’s something we’ll hold our hat high on."
Bottom line, though, is the Giants’ 0-4 record.
"At the end of the day, it’s a production league, and it’s about getting wins," Martinez said. "That’s what we want. We’re not going to be satisfied unless it happens."