The Giants’ new offensive reality of being efficiently unproductive has one damning flaw. It is contingent on playing with a lead. If the Giants are forced to play from behind, asked to move the ball on a long drive or need to score points in a hurry, they do not have the manpower to accomplish it.
So when the Seahawks took a three-point lead in the third quarter Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it was insurmountable. Game plan over. Game over.
The result was a 24-7 loss for the Giants, dropping them to 1-6 as they head into a bye week that will be filled with reflection on their miserable season and looking ahead to a rather meaningless final nine games.
They already have more regular-season losses in 2017 than they had last year, and this game ended with most Giants fans in the parking lot while the Seahawks fans’ victory chants echoed through MetLife.
In their second game without any of their top four wide receivers, the Giants had few options for moving the ball. They managed only 177 yards and had a three-and-out on five of their 11 full possessions (they let the clock run out on the half after two snaps). Their time of possession was 24:34.
“We weren’t sharp on offense today,” Ben McAdoo said.
They were limited to 42 yards in the first half, yet their magic (but clearly temporary) formula yielded a 7-3 lead at the intermission. That touchdown came on the heels of a takeaway. Rookie defensive end Avery Moss forced a fumble that Landon Collins caught in the air and returned 32 yards to the Seahawks’ 17. Two plays later, Eli Manning hit Evan Engram, one of the few viable playmakers, with a 5-yard pass for a 7-0 lead.
The Giants’ defense in the first half was outstanding and made a goal-line stand that included nine plays after Seattle had first-and-goal from the 5. The Seahawks didn’t score until Blair Walsh kicked a field goal with 42 seconds left in the half.
“It’s difficult,” Collins said of the Giants’ new blueprint since they lost Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and, essentially, any hope of an explosive offense. “This defense has to win games.”
That’s not going to change.
“It’s definitely long-term,” Collins said. “It’s just our mindset. We have to do that.”
On Sunday they couldn’t.
The Seahawks took the lead with 7:30 left in the third quarter on a four-play, 59-yard drive. The possession began with a 29-yard reception by tight end Jimmy Graham on which Collins missed a tackle and ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass down the seam to Doug Baldwin with Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie trailing.
That drive was a result of the defense feeling pressure to make game-changing plays. On the Graham catch, Collins was trying to make an interception. On the touchdown pass, Rodgers-Cromartie was in the slot.
“The few times I was in, they kept running pick routes to that side, so I said in my head that I would jump outside. And as soon as I jumped outside, [Baldwin] took it upfield,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “I gambled and I got burned on it.”
The Giants’ offense still had a few chances to get back in the game. An apparent 72-yard reception by Engram was called back for an illegal touch because the rookie tight end was out of bounds before he made the catch. Early in the fourth quarter, the Giants drove to the 29, but Aldrick Rosas missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt that would have tied it at 10.
The Giants’ last opportunity to stay in the game fizzled when Manning was sacked by Jarran Reed and fumbled with 9:49 left. Frank Clark recovered, and a play later, the Seahawks hit a 38-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson on a flea-flicker from Russell Wilson.
Collins appeared to have control of the ball in the end zone for an interception after Richardson tipped it, but the play was ruled a simultaneous possession. By rule, it was awarded to the offense for a touchdown that made it 17-7 with 9:34 left.
The Seahawks (4-2) tacked on a 1-yard touchdown pass to Graham with 2:14 left to seal the win.
The rest of the Giants’ season? It looks as if it’ll be as bleak as this game was.
The new offensive philosophy worked last week because the Giants were able to run the ball (they had 46 rushing yards against Seattle) and the defense was able to keep Denver off the board. McAdoo refused to use his undermanned offense as an excuse, though.
“We had 46 today,” he said defiantly, referencing the number of Giants players in uniform, the same as the Seahawks.
They just aren’t the 46 the Giants need.