In a game in which Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley combined for 239 yards of offense, you’d expect the Giants to score more than one touchdown. But no, and mostly because of some missed opportunities. The Giants were 0-for-2 in the red zone and 0-for-2 on fourth-down attempts. If just one of those four plays goes a different way the game likely would have had a different outcome. Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard each had a dropped pass in the second half that led to stalled drives; Engram said he counted three passes that he should have caught but didn’t. The offensive line scuffled early and throughout the game. Giants fans have come to expect such breakdowns from Ereck Flowers, but it was shocking to see Nate Solder flagged for a costly holding flag in the fourth quarter. Take away Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown run and the Giants averaged exactly 2.0 yards per carry (46 yards on 23 runs). Barkley’s run inflated that overall average to 5.0 per carry.
Having Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette leave the game early with a hamstring injury certainly helped their cause, but the Giants’ defense did seem to come together better in the second half. They allowed just 93 yards on seven meaningful possessions in the second half, 41 of those coming on a Blake Bortles run. Janoris Jenkins made a nice interception, keeping his balance along the sideline, and later nearly had a second when he tipped away a pass in the end zone. The Jaguars converted only 4 of 13 third downs. As expected, it was hard to produce a pass rush with Olivier Vernon sidelined but rookie Lorenzo Carter had a few pressures, S Michael Thomas had a big hit or Bortles, and Kerry Wynn and Kareem Martin combined for the Giants’ only sack.
Special Teams: D-minus
Kaelin Clay had one job: Catch the ball. He didn’t. His muff on the final punt of the game robbed the Giants of the chance to at least put the ball in the hands of their big play-makers and try to find the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown. Clay had three other punts he did catch and return for a total of 4 yards and Cody Latimer’s opening return for 15 yards to the 15 was uninspiring. Those were enough to sink the grade on a unit that did have some bright spots including Aldrick Rosas’ three field goals with a long of 44 and a nice special teams tackle by newcomer Nate Stupar on the opening kickoff coverage. Punter Riley Dixon had five punts, none of which pinned the Jaguars inside the 20. By comparison the Jaguars did that four times to the Giants.
The Giants were unable to move the ball up the middle for most of the game, yet in two critical situations Pat Shurmur called for such a running play with 2 yards required. The first was on fourth-and-2 in the third quarter when Saquon Barkley tried to leap for a first down and came up about six inches short. The second was on a two-point conversion attempt after Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown. Again, Barkley was turned back (nevermind the logic of handing off to a player who’d just run two-thirds of the field for a score). After verbally flirting with using Odell Beckham Jr. as a punt returner, Shurmur did not in some critical situations in the fourth quarter. Shurmur was 0-for-1 on challenges. With the radio in Eli Manning’s helmet acting funny in the first half, someone should have switched it out rather than waiting for it to fail completely and cost a valuable timeout before the first snap of the second half.