Unfortunately for fans, the New York Giants’ 2015 season has been marred by way too many questions of “what if.”
“You are what your record says you are” –Bill Parcells
By Justin Weiss
So close, yet so far…
For the sixth time in 14 games, the New York Giants were outplayed in the last minute of the fourth quarter as they fell to 6-8 on the season.
That leads us all to wonder: What if Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t go off on Panthers CB Josh Norman? What if Josh Brown doesn’t miss a 49-yard field goal in overtime against the Jets? What if Landon Collins doesn’t drop a critical interception that would have handed the previously undefeated Patriots their first loss?
Week 1: Dallas Cowboys 27, New York Giants 26
New York squandered a 23-13 lead with 5:47 remaining on Opening night. With 1:43 left on the clock and Big Blue up by three points with the ball at Dallas’ one yard line, Tom Coughlin’s squad elected to pass on third down instead of run (and they, of course, failed to score a TD), therefore stopping the clock with an ample amount of time for Tony Romo to engineer a comeback. He put the icing on the cake with an 11-yard TD strike to Jason Witten with 0:07 remaining, as a helpless defense could only watch in dismay.
“The decision to throw the ball on third down was not a good decision,” Coughlin said. “It should have been a run, whether we scored or not.”
Week 2: Atlanta Falcons 24, New York Giants 20
Somehow, the G-Men managed to become the first team in NFL history to blow two double-digit leads in the first two games of the season. This time they would fall to the then 1-0 Falcons, after leading by two scores with 12:50 left in the game. With the Giants in clear control of the contest, Eli Manning fumbled, then Matt Ryan led his team downfield for a touchdown, and then Manning somehow got a delay of game penalty following a Falcons timeout that pitted the Giants back five yards and made a manageable 3rd-and-7 a much more difficult 3rd-and-12.
“We talk every week about finishing. That wasn’t a finish for me,” Coughlin said. “We talk about don’t keep score, I’ll keep score, and let you know when the game’s over. That’s not what happened.”
Week 8: New Orleans Saints 52, New York Giants 49
In a must-win matchup with the New Orleans Saints, the two teams combined for the third most points ever, over 1,000 yards and a record 13 touchdown passes. Knotted at 49 with 20 seconds left, the game appeared poised to head into overtime. That was until Brad Wing managed a weak punt, allowed a fumble recovery that was picked up for a positive gain by the Saints, and then capped it all off with a brutal face mask that placed Drew Brees into field goal range. Of course, a 50-yard field goal attempt split the uprights to send the Giants home again with a loss.
“We punted it for distance. We got some distance. They would have had 5 seconds left had we covered it,” Coughlin said. “We didn’t expect the guy to run the punt back. And then, of course, I didn’t expect the penalty.”
Week 10: New England Patriots 27, New York Giants 26
Hanging in all game with the then-undefeated defending champs, the Giants had a 26-24 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the contest. But then a dropped touchdown (Odell Beckham Jr.) happened. And then a dropped interception (Landon Collins) happened. And then the Giants’ historically awful defense happened. And then Stephen Gostkowski won the game with his leg.
“Just finish the game,” Coughlin said. “You don’t win, they are all miserable. I don’t look at it in terms of degrees. I look at it in terms of frustration that goes along with it because of what could have been. It’s not that far away from being a win. Just finish the thing off.”
Week 13: New York Jets 23, New York Giants 20
Possessing a ten point lead with 4:25 left in the game, the Jets capitalized on an Eli Manning interception on fourth-and-two (that Coughlin got absolutely drilled for) by kicking a critical field goal. After forcing a quick three-and-out, Big Blue’s Big Apple brethren marched downfield for a touchdown to send the game into OT, where the Giants, looking tired and battered, surrendered a field goal and then missed one themselves.
“If we scored there and fourth-and-2, then we push the score up to where maybe they can’t beat us with whatever,” Coughlin said. “So we’re up 17. I stand by it.”
Week 15: Carolina Panthers 38, New York Giants 35
In one of the craziest games in franchise history, Odell Beckham Jr. bizarrely lost his cool as New York went down 35-7 at the halfway point in the third quarter. But after scoring 28 unanswered points via a field goal block, OBJ TD, quick three-and-out and fumble recovery, Graham Gano hit a field goal as time expired to propel Carolina to 14-0 and send New York home with yet another loss.
“To go out there and just let them drive down the field is just mind-boggling,” said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.