CHARLOTTE, N.C. — All that talk about the Giants’ heart, only to have it broken.
On a day that began with Odell Beckham Jr. questioning the energy and desire of the team in a prerecorded television interview, saw him catch and throw for touchdowns, featured several questionable officiating calls, and had the Giants clawing back to go up by one with 1:08 left, the final emotion from a wild afternoon at Bank of America Stadium wound up being just about the same as the one the Giants have been feeling all season.
Graham Gano kicked a 63-yard field goal with one second remaining to give the Panthers a 33-31 win and gut-punch the Giants to a 1-4 record.
“We probably felt like we deserved to win that game,” said Eli Manning (22-for-36, 326 yards, two TDs, two interceptions). “Obviously, to lose on a 63-yarder is tough to swallow.”
Pat Shurmur, keenly aware of the aspersions cast on his squad by his star wide receiver, was quick to point out that he liked what he saw from the Giants . . . right up to the final seconds. In fact, for the first time in his tenure with the Giants, he himself let a few of the flames from his own mostly muffled passion lick out.
“We played the way that I know our team is,” Shurmur said firmly. “For the record, our team is tough. They play hard. And I’ve got no issues with the way they play.”
It looked as if they had played well enough to win. The Giants had the ball at their own 25 with 2:16 remaining and in need of a touchdown to take the lead. Eli Manning hit Russell Shepard for a 40-yard gain to the 15 with 1:23 remaining and then threw a short pass to Saquon Barkley for a 15-yard touchdown. That play, with the running back leaping into the end zone over the pylon, plus the extra point gave the Giants a 31-30 lead with 1:08 remaining.
It was the first time the Giants scored as many as 30 points since the last game of the 2015 season, and — with their season on the verge of crumbling — it couldn’t have come at a more important time.
But the 1:08 remaining was the number on the scoreboard that many nervous Giants fans were staring at. That left the Panthers plenty of time to set up the winning kick.
“You would expect us to close the game out, and we didn’t,” defensive tackle Damon Harrison said. “We just didn’t finish.”
Shurmur did not entertain the idea that the Giants made a mistake by scoring too quickly. “I’m not playing that [expletive] game,” he said.
The loss left a lot to digest and not much time to do so. The Giants host the Eagles on Thursday night in a game critical to both teams. The Eagles are 2-3 after losing to the Vikings on Sunday.
Beckham, as is his wont, was in the midst of a lot of action. He dropped a fourth-down pass, had a punt bounce off his leg for a Panthers touchdown and threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley . . . all in the first half.
Manning’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Beckham and a two-point conversion pass to tight end Rhett Ellison made it 27-24 with 8:08 remaining in the game. The Panthers kicked a field goal with 2:16 left to go up 30-24 and set the stage for what appeared to be the Giants’ winning drive.
Instead, it was simply a prelude to a much more dramatic field-goal attempt a few minutes later.
“It’s tough,” Beckham said of the loss. “There’s no worse position to be in than to be on the sideline and just have to watch the kick go up and up.
“They put it together at the end, they came out with the win, but I’m proud of where we stand. Even though we’re 1-4, this game today is going to be monumental for our season, in my eyes.”
Longest FGs in NFL history:
Matt Prater, Denver vs. Tennessee, 12/8/13
Graham Gano, Carolina vs. Giants, 10/7/18
Tom Dempsey, New Orleans vs. Detroit, 11/8/70
Jason Elam, Denver vs. Jacksonville, 10/25/98
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland at Denver, 9/12/11
David Akers, San Francisco at Green Bay, 9/9/12