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Giants Q&A: Should refs have picked up that flag?

Tampa Bay's Antoine Winfieldm right, breaks up a

Tampa Bay's Antoine Winfieldm right, breaks up a two-point conversion attempt to Dion Lewis with 28 seconds left. The referees threw a flag for pass interference, then conferred and picked up the flag in the Giants' 25-23 loss on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, at MetLife Stadium.   Credit: AP/Corey Sipkin

A penalty flag for pass interference against Antoine Winfield was initially thrown on the two-point conversion play at the end of the game, which would have given the Giants a second chance at tying the score. Why was it picked up?

Referee Brad Rogers, in a postgame pool report, said that side judge Nathan Jones initially threw the flag but then conferred with down judge Jerod Phillips. "The communication between the side judge and the down judge was that the defender contacted the receiver simultaneously as the ball came in," Rogers said. "In order to have defensive pass interference, it has to be clearly early and hinder the receiver’s ability to make the catch … In our communication on the field, the down judge and the side judge communicated about the action and believed that it was appropriate to pick that flag up."

What did Joe Judge say about that?

At the time, some fairly colorful words that could be lip-read by anyone watching on television. After he’d cooled off, he was less volatile but no less certain that the penalty should have stood.

"I thought Nate made the right call when he threw the flag," Judge said. "We had a pretty clear view of it. I know you can’t use the (video boards in the stadium) as a replay, but we had a pretty clear view on that, as well. I thought Nate made the right call the first time. Normally your first instinct is the right one."

Replays did show Winfield hit running back Dion Lewis before the ball arrived. But they also showed that Lewis was wide open and Daniel Jones was late getting him the ball.

Said Daniel Jones: "It was a great play call. I have to get the ball out there sooner to him."

What did Golden Tate yell into the camera after his touchdown reception in the final minute?

"Throw me the ball!"

Tate, despite a pair of touchdowns in the past two games, has been targeted just six times in the past three. The 32-year-old, who is among the players the Giants might consider trading with the NFL deadline approaching on Tuesday afternoon, appeared to be frustrated with his diminished role in the offense. Judge said he has not seen evidence of that frustration from Tate in practices or game preparation.

Was that Alfred Morris at running back for the Giants at times? The Alfred Morris who had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons for Washington?

It was. Morris has been on the Giants’ practice squad for about a month and was elevated for this game when starter Devonta Freeman was unavailable with an ankle injury. Morris, 31, had played just one NFL game since the end of the 2018 season, but on Monday he had eight carries for 28 yards.

How did the Giants function without Will Hernandez?

Pretty well. With Hernandez sidelined by a positive COVID-19 test, rookie Shane Lemieux started at left guard and played every snap. Despite any concerns that he and fellow rookie Andrew Thomas would be lined up next to each other, and the fact that at times the Giants inserted Matt Peart at right tackle to give them three rookie offensive linemen on the field at the same time, the unit had one of its best games of the year.

"I saw some good improvement from all three of those guys tonight," Judge said. "Some of the good things are when you don’t notice them being out there. That means that things are going in the right direction."

Thomas and Peart had played and started before. How did Lemieux, who had three offensive snaps in his career before Monday, do?

Again, pretty well. "Shane is not afraid to mix it up," Judge said. "We know that from him. He’s a tough dude. He got in there and played with some nastiness and we liked that about him."

What could that mean for the offensive line alignment?

It may be the impetus the Giants need to trade veteran Kevin Zeitler, who would certainly be able to help a contending team in the second half of the season.

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