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Giants' offense fails to make the grade

Giants running back Saquon Barkley runs against the

Giants running back Saquon Barkley runs against the Titans' Kevin Byard at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Mike Stobe


Turned out the lack of logos in the end zones at MetLife Stadium wasn’t an issue; the Giants never reached them. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Giants’ offense be this inept, probably since the last time they were shut out, in Week 16 last season in Arizona. Considering how drab the first half of the season was, that’s saying something. Saquon Barkley couldn’t find anything to work with in the running game, finishing with 31 yards on 14 carries. He had a 17-yard run, meaning that on his other 13 carries, he managed only 14 yards. Eli Manning looked awful in the wind and rain, completing 21 of 44 passes and turning it over twice. The Giants converted only 3 of 16 third downs and reached the red zone only once.   


It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t effective, either. The Giants allowed 215 rushing yards, 170 of them to Derrick Henry, and did not come up with any of the takeaways that had been so helpful in recent victories. Nor were they able to get much pressure on Marcus Mariota when he did pass, sacking him only once. They came close to holding the Titans out of the end zone from the 1 a number of times. The first touchdown Tennessee scored was on fourth-and-goal from the 1, the second set up after a facemask penalty against Josh Mauro on what would have been a third-down stop to likely force a field goal. The Titans’ longest play of the game was a 22-yard run by Henry.   


It was a strange day for a  unit that was on the verge of disaster at several points but managed to come away pretty much unscathed. Ukeme Eligwe nearly produced an unwanted touchback when he knocked the ball into the end zone while downing a punt, but a challenge by Pat Shurmur saved that embarrassment. Then Riley Dixon bobbled a snap on a second-quarter punt. Luckily for the Giants, the Titans were dropping back to set up for a return, so he was able to run for a first down. A penalty in the fourth quarter against Eligwe cost the Giants return yardage they could not spare as Jawill Davis struggled to gain positive yardage on punts. He had three returns for a total of 2 yards.   


The Giants have made a commitment in the second half of the season  to running the ball, but in this game, they could not figure out a way to be successful doing it. They were overmatched by the Titans’ defense, which was able to control the line of scrimmage, and Shurmur and the offensive staff couldn’t scheme their way around them. The Giants had been doing a very good job of limiting their penalties this season but were flagged 10 times for 58 yards. Shurmur showed good knowledge of the rules in challenging the touchback on the Eligwe goof, but he was burned when he lost an obvious challenge on a long run by Derrick Henry in which it looked as if  he stepped out of bounds.

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