GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Giants finally got their first defensive takeaways of the season Sunday night. They just couldn’t get them when they needed them the most.
Twice in the fourth quarter, the defense had a chance to end a key Packers drive that would have given the Giants a chance to cut into their deficit and even tie the score. Instead, the ball remained with the Packers and the Giants lost, 23-16.
“It’s tough,” linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “We need that ball to bounce our way sometimes. Population at the ball is key, and I feel like on those plays, we had guys there and guys at the point. It just didn’t bounce our way.”
The first missed opportunity came with 12:17 remaining when rookie safety Andrew Adams had a chance to make an interception but the ball went through his hands.
On the next snap, the Packers converted a third-and-9 with a 17-yard pass to Randall Cobb in which he was stopped behind the line of scrimmage but squirmed through a hole for the second-effort yardage. That play was early in what became a 13-play, 73-yard drive that ate up 6:22 of the game and resulted in a field goal that made it 23-9 with 6:39 remaining.
After the Giants scored their first touchdown to get back to within a touchdown of the lead, they again had an opportunity to get the ball back. Running back James Starks caught a short pass and fumbled the ball into the arms of linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. The ball bounced off Sheppard, though, and right back into the hands of Starks.
“I was just breaking to make a tackle, get us to a third-down situation,” Sheppard said. “As I was going to hit him and make contact, the ball popped out kind of simultaneously. It bounced right back to him. We were just prying, scratching and clawing trying to get the ball.”
“There were a lot of bodies in there scraping for the ball,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said, “but they [Packers] came up with it.”
Janoris Jenkins had two first-half interceptions, accounting for the defense’s first two takeaways of the season.
“Jackrabbit made incredible plays early in the game,” Casillas said. “You want them to come. We think they’re going to come in bunches, like they say, but we gotta get off the field on third down [the Packers were 9-for-19]. That hurt us bad today. And turnovers are definitely one of our focal points for the rest of the season.”