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For Giants' defense, it's about big plays and third downs

Lions wide receiver Marvin Hall beats Giants defensive

Lions wide receiver Marvin Hall beats Giants defensive back Michael Thomas on a 49-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of the Giants' 31-26 loss Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Detroit.   Credit: AP/Rick Osentoski

DETROIT — The Lions had four plays that covered 25 or more yards in Sunday’s 31-26 victory over the Giants, and three of them came in the following situations: third and-15, third-and-8, third-and-8.

So not only were they ineffective in stopping Detroit, but their timing made the failures even crueler.

“They threw it into the soft spots in the coverage,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “We have to play tighter pass coverage, we’ve got to get a better pass rush, make plays on the ball. That’s all it comes down to.

“We knew the type of quarterback [Matthew Stafford] was, and he came out and proved that. It’s on us, though. We have to make the plays.”

Stafford was 25-for-32 for 342 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, and the Lions were 8-for-14 converting third downs.

The two most galling plays were touchdown passes of 49 yards to Marvin Hall and 41 yards to Kenny Golladay.

On the first, which gave the Lions a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Hall lined up in the slot and simply blew past the entire defense on third-and-15. Safety Michael Thomas came over to try to help, but it was far too late.

After the play, linebacker Alec Ogletree appeared to be upset with rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker. “It’s third-and-forever; you can’t give up however long of a touchdown it was,” Ogletree said later. “You can’t do that. It’s bad ball.”

Safety Antoine Bethea added: “That’s soft, just knowing the situation and knowing what they like to do. And like you said, third down has been one of our Achilles’ heels, and to give that third-and-15 up, that was soft.”

Coach Pat Shurmur said: “We probably should’ve had a little bit better presence on the outside. They made a good throw and catch.”

The Giants still were in the game, trailing 24-19 after three quarters, when the Lions broke it open with a gimmick play. Stafford pitched the ball to running back J.D. McKissic, who threw it back to him. Stafford then found Golladay behind Bethea for a touchdown.

Asked about the play, Shurmur said: “What about it? It was a throw-back, right? It was a throw-back and Bethea was in coverage. He was just behind. That’s what happened.”

Bethea was asked if it was a helpless feeling. “A helpless feeling?’’ he said. “No, like I said, it was a good play call and they made a play.”

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