For the second week in a row the New York Giants had a lead in the fourth quarter, and for the second week in a row, they blew it as they were defeated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25-23.
In Week 3, the New York Giants defense blew leads of 21-14 and 24-21 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The scores may have changed, but the issues remained the same in Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Once again, Big Blue‘s defense twice gave up fourth-quarter leads. Up 17-16 heading into the game’s final frame, Tampa Bay tight end Cameron Brate scored on a 14-yard reception to put the Bucs up 22-17.
This should have motivated the defense to end the game on their terms and secure New York’s first win of the season. It did not. They allowed Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston to lead a nine-play, 59-yard drive downfield, setting up Nick Folk to kick the game-winning, 34-yard field goal as time expired.
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On that final drive, the Giants defense—which is supposed to be one of the best in football—couldn’t muster any pass rush. In fact, the pass rush was non-existent most of the game as they only recorded one sack.
The secondary failed miserably on the final drive as well. All-Pro cornerback Janoris Jenkins gave up a 14-yard completion to Mike Evans and then Cameron Brate beat All-Pro safety Landon Collins on a 26-yard completion down the right sideline that put the ball at the Giants 13-yard line. Three plays later, the Bucs kicked the game-winning field goal.
No, you can’t blame this loss solely on the defense, especially when the offense had some crucial drops and Aldrick Rosas missed a 43-yard field goal. But when your defense has multiple Pro Bowl-caliber players, you expect them to make a stop with the game on the line.
Last season, the Giants won close games due to their defense making those critical stops and forcing turnovers. This season, they’re allowing their opponents to drive down the field and win games in the closing moments.
On Sunday the Giants defense gave up 434 yards to the Buccaneers, didn’t force a turnover, and only came up with one sack. This is unacceptable for a team that desperately needed a win.
The Giants have one more chance to keep their season on life support. If the defense steps up next Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, they’ll have a chance to at least finish with a respectable record.
If not, they can officially kiss the season—and any hope of sneaking into the playoffs as a Wild Card team—goodbye.