GREEN BAY, Wis. — Ben McAdoo said the Giants were due for a “breakout.” All they gave him were the same old breakdowns.
Despite facing a Packers defense that entered the game ranked 27th in passing yards allowed and was playing without either of its starting cornerbacks, the Giants’ supposed high-powered attack was unable to exhibit any sign of potency.
Instead, Eli Manning had to rush his throws because of pressure from the Packers, the receivers never managed to get behind a secondary that lacked stars but was stacked up with bodies, and the Giants fell to Green Bay, 23-16, at Lambeau Field on Sunday night for their third straight loss.
“We just have to do more,” said Odell Beckham Jr., who scored his team’s only touchdown on an 8-yard pass with 2:54 left. “On offense, we have to sustain drives. We have to be more than one-dimensional.”
That they have been unable to figure out how to beat a basic defensive scheme — the cover-2 — for almost three straight weeks is both frustrating and confounding.
“Yup, pretty much the same thing,” Beckham said of the scheme that was used by Washington and Minnesota before being employed by the Packers. “They came out with a game plan and they stuck to it. It was effective and they got the W.”
“They’re just clouding the outside and making us win on the inside,” said Victor Cruz, who was targeted only twice and left the game without a catch. “That’s basically it. We just have to figure out a way to beat it.”
Manning was 18-for-35 for 199 yards, with only one pass gaining more than 20 yards. He didn’t throw an interception but coughed up a critical fumble in the second quarter. The Giants’ offense managed only 219 yards and went 4-for-13 on third-down conversions.
Meanwhile, the rest of the NFC East continues to roll along. Dallas and Washington won earlier in the day (the Eagles took their first loss of the season) and the Giants (2-3) took sole possession of last place in the division.
It wasn’t only offensive failure that led to the loss. The defense had two chances for takeaways in the fourth quarter that literally slipped through their fingers.
Rookie safety Andrew Adams missed an interception on a drive that ended with a Green Bay field goal and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard had a fumble by running back James Starks hit him in the arms before it bounced right back to Starks with 2:30 left. The Packers converted a third-and-10 on the next play to get to the two-minute warning and ran out the clock without giving the ball back to the Giants.
“We see them cough the ball up and we might have a chance to go down and tie it up,” Beckham said. “I was very excited. Or maybe third down making a stop and being able to get a punt return and put ourselves in a position to score. It just didn’t turn out that way.”
Just before the half, Josh Brown kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it 14-6 with 1:51 left and the Giants’ defense forced the Packers to punt. But Will Tye dropped a seam pass that would have gone for an easy 60-yard touchdown, Manning was pressured to his left and sacked by Kyler Fackrell for a fumble with 1:15 remaining, and the Packers kicked a field goal as time expired in the half to go ahead 17-6.
The half was what has become typical Giants football, defined by penalties and turnovers. Manning’s fumble was the most glaring example of the latter, but the Giants were flagged six times for 51 yards in the first half (and had no penalties enforced on them in the second half). Even after Janoris Jenkins registered the Giants’ first defensive takeaway of the season with an interception on the final play of the first quarter, the Giants were called for an illegal hit on the return, a holding call on the first snap after the pick and a false start later in the drive that forced them to punt.
Jennings’ second interception at the Packers’ 40 led to the field goal that made it 14-6.
Asked about believing that the Giants’ offense would come to life, McAdoo said: “I still do.” It just wasn’t Sunday night.
“All of it was frustrating, not just the fact they had their corners out,” Cruz said. “We couldn’t get points on the board, we couldn’t get into a groove. Just all of it in general.”
Said Beckham: “It’s unfortunate. That’s all I can say is it’s unfortunate.”