LANDOVER, Md. — Ben McAdoo decided to make Eli Apple inactive for Thursday night’s game against Washington and instead rely heavily on cornerback Ross Cockrell in the secondary. It was not a decision that paid off for the Giants.
Cockrell was flagged for two key penalties and allowed a key third-down pass on the go-ahead touchdown drive as the Giants lost, 20-10, at FedEx Field. Would Apple have made those plays? Who knows? What is known is that Cockrell did not.
The first miscue from the veteran cornerback came in the second quarter when he was flagged for pass interference against Josh Doctson on a deep pass. That moved the ball 37 yards to the Giants’ 11 and set up a field goal that made it 3-3 at halftime.
Then, with the score tied at 10 in the fourth quarter, Cockrell again found the spotlight. The Giants seemed able to halt a Washington drive with their seventh sack of the game on a third-and-3 from the Washington 47, but Cockrell was flagged for holding to give up the first down. Four plays later, on third-and-6 from the Giants’ 33, Cockrell gave up a 17-yard pass to Jamison Crowder that put Washington firmly in field-goal range and led to a touchdown.
“Obviously, I want to be a contributor to team victories,” Cockrell said. “I don’t want to detract from anything, and penalties detract.”
As for the Crowder reception, he said: “I just have to hold my inside leverage better.”
McAdoo said he did not play Apple, last year’s first-round pick, because of the practice time he missed last week while his mother was undergoing surgery. Apple missed Sunday’s game against the Chiefs because of those absences, but McAdoo said earlier this week that he would have a “normal” week leading into Washington. That normality ended when the Giants announced their inactives and Apple was among them.
“Eli missed a lot of time last week with practice and the ballgame,” McAdoo said after Thursday’s loss. “It was a short week without any speed [in practices]. That was the reason for it.”
The consequences, though, were dire.