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Grading the Giants: Struggles all around in season opening loss

Daniel Jones #8 of the Giants throws a

Daniel Jones #8 of the Giants throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sep. 14, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac


As Saquon Barkley goes, so go the Giants, and neither of them had much going on Monday night. Barkley had a decent night as a receiver (six receptions, 60 yards) but was abysmal carrying the ball for 6 yards on 15 carries. Here’s what you need to know about the night: The Giants had their longest drive since 2014, but it was a 19-snap trip to nowhere that ended with an unsightly interception thrown by Daniel Jones. He threw a pick earlier in the game, too. Jones did throw two touchdown passes to Darius Slayton, one of them with the game already out of reach. And on a night when Jones did not fumble, the Giants might have been helped if he had. On their first drive, T.J. Watt hit his arm on a pass that was ruled incomplete, but had it been a fumble, Nick Gates would have recovered it for a touchdown.


They allowed a quarterback who hadn’t played a competitive snap in a year (Ben Roethlisberger) to throw for three touchdowns without an interception and a backup running back (Benny Snell Jr.) to rush for 113 yards. In between, they made a few plays. Blake Martinez was active and led the Giants with 12 tackles in his debut with the team. The front line created some chaos and Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence each registered a sack. But there were a few too many breakdowns in a secondary that is still getting to know each other. Each of the first two Steelers touchdown passes came against a defensive back who had not been on the field with the team at any point in training camp.


Devante Downs recovered a muffed punt at the 3 that should have led to a Giants touchdown in the first quarter. Instead, it set up the only field goal of the game by Graham Gano. Jabrill Peppers brings more excitement to the punt return game than those who preceded him. In this game, he had three returns for 37 yards with a long of 20 and one fair catch. The one nitpicky play was the 33-yard kickoff return by Ray-Ray McCloud.


The Fightin’ Joe Judges seemed to live up to that moniker, embodying their head coach’s attitude and demeanor. Patrick Graham took some chances as defensive coordinator, such as the blitz he sent at Roethlisberger in the second quarter. Too bad it left Isaac Yiadom exposed in one-on-one coverage against JuJu Smith-Schuster for an easy touchdown. Offensively, Jason Garrett needs to figure out how to get the ball to Barkley without just handing it off to him. When Barkley was involved in the passing game, he was much more explosive. This was the first time the play-callers had a chance to use their pieces in real action, so there still is some feeling out when it comes to personnel.

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