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Giants grades: Outsmarted by a bad team

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur walks on the

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur walks on the sidelines in the first half against the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac


Forget for a moment that the Giants scored only two touchdowns against one of the NFL’s worst defenses. Consider what that defense did to them, sacking Daniel Jones eight times, forcing three fumbles (one recovered by the Giants) and an interception, and limiting them to four third-down conversions on 12 tries. Saquon Barkley scored a late TD but was held to just 72 rushing yards on 18 carries and stopped at or near the line of scrimmage on most of those plays. The Giants had just one play that went more than 20 yards.


The runner the Giants needed to worry about wasn’t Kyler Murray but Chase Edmonds. The Fordham product trounced them for 126 yards and touchdown runs of 20, 20, and 22 yards. Allowing 17 points in the first 16:30 of the game set the Giants in a deep hole. They did a fairly good job of containing Murray, who threw for just 104 yards, was sacked twice, and ran for just 28 yards on 10 carries. And the coverage was tight on the receivers; no one caught more than four passes and Larry Fitzgerald was held to one catch for 12 yards. But they allowed the Cardinals to convert on 7 of 15 third downs and their one fourth-down attempt.


Michael Thomas blocked a punt in the end zone that was recovered by Eli Penny for a touchdown in the second quarter, the first special teams TD scored by the Giants this season. But two plays in the second half burned the Giants: First was a missed field goal by Pro Bowler Aldrick Rosas that plunked off the right upright with 1:07 left in the third, points that would have changed the outlook of the game in the fourth quarter; and after the Cardinals took a 27-21 lead, rookie returner Darius Slayton decided to take the ball out of the end zone. Not only did that burn valuable clock with no timeouts remaining, it was ineffective and pinned the Giants at their 12-yard line to begin their last-gasp drive.


Using a draw on third-and-18 from your own 30 when you know you have two plays to get a first down is fine, especially with Saquon Barkley in the backfield. But once that handoff went for just 3 yards, the Giants should have punted on fourth-and-15 with two-and-a-half minutes left. If you trust your defense to hold the opposition to a field goal, trust them to force a punt. At some point coach Pat Shurmur needs to come to grips with the fact that the NFL will not overturn pass interference calls. He is 0-for-4 on such challenges. Defensively, it took far too long for the Giants to figure out that the Cardinals were running the ball straight at them, resorting to some power football rather than their usual spread look.

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