It doesn’t seem too hard to score 30 points in an NFL game these days. Twenty nine of the 32 teams in the league have done it at least twice since the start of the 2016 season, two teams are averaging at least that many points per game this year, and it has happened in 106 of the 448 times a team has taken the field this season. It’s not exactly the sound barrier or the four-minute mile, obstacles that at one point seemed impossible to break through.
It’s not that difficult.
“It’s not that easy, either,” Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard said on Thursday. “Ain’t nothing easy in the NFL.”
Shepard knows this because during his two years in the league the Giants have never scored 30 points or more in any game. They’ve won 13 times in that span, they went to the playoffs. But when it comes to scoring 30-something, they are 30-nothings.
Only the Browns and the Giants have failed to reach that scoring total in a game over the past two seasons. The Bears were among them until two weeks ago when they put up 33 against the Bengals. It’s become a frustrating barricade that the Giants can’t seem to traverse.
“Isn’t that something,” running back Orleans Darkwa said of the shortcoming.
The Giants came as close as they possibly could without reaching 30 on Sunday against the Eagles. They scored 29 points and left six points on the field in the form of a blocked extra point, a blocked field goal, and a failed two-point conversion. They had the touchdowns in that game. It was the other stuff that got in the way.
“Sometimes it just comes down to execution, little things,” Darkwa said. “Giving Eli [Manning] a half a second more to throw the ball, somebody running the correct route, us breaking that extra tackle as backs. Little things like that can go a long way into scoring points. We just haven’t been able to put that together as a complete unit.”
Shepard admitted that it is surprising not to have been able to touch 30 given the talent that the Giants have on their offensive roster. Some of that talent has been sidelined by injuries this season, but last year it was fully functional and still failed to top it.
“But there’s a lot of stuff that goes into that too,” Shepard said. “To be able to use the weapons you have to have a lot of stuff in place.”
Offensive line woes have curtailed the offense into a short-passing system that rarely extends the field. The Giants focused on establishing the run under Ben McAdoo for most of this season.
There is, however, hope. The Giants upped the tempo of their offense last week against the Eagles, and that seemed to help things. The greener receivers the Giants have relied on to fill the roles left vacant by injuries to Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall appear to finally be catching on (although Tavarres King and his two touchdowns from last week are in the concussion protocol and may not play on Sunday). And the Giants’ final two opponents — the Cardinals and Redskins — are averaging 24.1 and 25.6 points allowed per game.
“I feel like we took a huge step last week,” Shepard said. “Just use what we did last week and build on it.”
Manning cautioned that it might not happen. The Giants, after all, scored 24 points in the fourth quarter of their first game against the Eagles in Week 3 and didn’t score that many in any game afterward until last week.
“You learn quickly in football that nothing carries over from week to week,” Manning said. “Last week, guys made some great individual efforts. We’ve got to continue to do that and then just find a lot of completions.”
It’s not really about scoring 30 points, anyway.
“As far as any magic number, at the end of the day we want to win,” Darkwa said. “The goal as an offense is to score as many points as possible, but as far as the number is concerned we don’t sit here and say ‘Oh, we need to put up 30.’ We want to win. Whatever it takes, that’s what we want to do.”
And if it takes 30, well, Shepard thinks the Giants are in position to do it.
“I think it’s possible,” he said. “I see no reason why not if we prepare the way we should and do what we’re capable of.”