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Giants grades: Sloppy play mitigates decent performance

Eli Manning of the New York Giants hands

Eli Manning of the New York Giants hands the ball off to Shane Vereen against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium on Sept 18. 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Mike Stobe


The turnovers are officially an issue. Shane Vereen fumbled one away for the second straight week and Eli Manning threw two interceptions. Vereen’s fumble negated what was an otherwise strong game for him replacing Rashad Jennings as starter: 67 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, including a 25-yarder. Both Giants running backs had high averages per carry (Vereen was 6.1 and Orleans Darkwa was 5.3) behind good run blocking. They gained 457 total yards, 337 of them passing, but managed just six points on two field goals in the crucial second half.


After the Giants had not allowed any plays of more than 23 yards in their first two games, Washington had five of them. Two were back-breaking touchdowns: A 44-yard pass to DeSean Jackson and an inexcusable 55-yard catch and run by Jamison Crowder on a screen pass on third-and-15 in the third quarter. Playing without three starters in the secondary by the end of the game, the Giants allowed 327 passing yards (403 yards total) and did not have a takeaway for the third straight game. They did, however, hold Washington without a TD on four red zone possessions and gave the ball back to the offense with just under two minutes remaining and a chance to win.


Things started out great when Washington muffed a punt and Dwayne Harris recovered it to set up the opening touchdown. After that it went from bad (Josh Brown’s kickoff sailing out of bounds) to worse (a 50-yard punt return by Jamison Crowder) to embarrassing (a fake punt that the Giants had covered but still was completed for a 31-yard gain) to indefensible (a blocked punt by Romeo Okwara negated because of a dumb rookie penalty against Andrew Adams that had nothing to do with the play). Harris had one punt return for 14 yards that was brought back after a penalty against rookie Paul Perkins.


Ben McAdoo said he knew the officials would be flag-happy but his team still committed 11 penalties for 128 yards and seemed to lose its cool at several key moments in the second half. He should have challenged the long punt return when it looked like Crowder stepped out of bounds early in his run. After a big third-down pass to Victor Cruz the Giants called timeout with 1:09 remaining. That gave Washington time to settle itself for an interception on the next snap. A fade pass in the end zone for 5-8 Bobby Rainey? Give them credit for being unpredictable at least. And it almost worked.


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