These five plays may have slipped under the radar, but they have had lasting effects on the New York Giants woebegone season.
You thought a bye week spared you a Sunday of New York Giants silliness? Think again!
The Giants are spared a loss thanks to their annual week off, but all that does is give us time to reflect on what’s gone oh so horribly wrong for the Giants this season. The list of lowlights … or highlights, if you’re a hater of the boys in blue … is packed to the brim. There’s Jason Witten‘s touchdown on opening night that ended the annual showdown in Dallas before it even began. Perhaps you witness Jamal Agnew‘s 88-yard kick return for a touchdown that sealed a prime time match for the Lions in East Rutherford.
The hypothetical 30 For 30 on the game against the equally winless Los Angeles Chargers would be really, really bad, as Giants fans witnessed both Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall suffer season-ending injuries.
However, we pinpoint five plays in this Giants season from hell, that define their 1-6 start. Five plays that slipped under the radar, plays that didn’t have the biggest impact when they first happened, but have had lasting effects on Big Blue’s exploits …
Week 2: Evan Engram‘s Touchdown
How could a first-round pick’s first touchdown in the home opener be on this list? Simply because it only goes to show that even when the Giants score, disaster ensues.
Engram celebrated his first NFL score with an elaborate dance number, one that happened to involve a crotch grab. While the NFL has been more lenient on celebrations this season, “lewd gestures”, no matter how brief, are still verboten. While the career-opening score tied the game, it killed off any momentum the Giants were looking for in a comeback victory, as they only mustered a field goal afterward en route to a 24-10 defeat. Engram has since recovered to become the Giants’ top receiver in the absence of Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, but it still puts a bit of an asterisk by his first career touchdown.
The Giants’ second touchdown of the season was also marred by a “lewd gesture”…but my head may explode if I write another article involving the phrase “Beckham pretended to urinate”, so let’s move on.
Week 2: ‘Sloppy Quarterback Play’
We could probably make an entire list of how the home opener against the Lions foreshadowed what was to come for the Giants, but we’d probably be here all day. This example of poor coaching, however, is too egregious to ignore when discussing the failures of the 2017 Giants.
It was bad enough to watch the Giants, armed with all three of their timeouts, allow Detroit run down the clock and ace a long field goal at the end of the first half, but the end of a 10-play, 68-yard drive in the early stages of the second half was on a whole new level. Down 17-7, the Giants faced a fourth and goal, two yards from the end zone, but a delay of game rendered the exercise moot, forcing an Aldrick Rosas field goal. After the game, head coach Ben McAdoo cited the penalty as an example of “sloppy quarterback play,” but defended tackle Ereck Flowers, who struggled all night with Detroit defensive end Ziggy Ansah, mentioning several times that Flowers “did some good things”. Manning had a solid evening, going 22-for-32 for 239 yards, but it was an early sign that not all was well in the New York locker room.
Week 3: Stuffed At the Goal Line
The Week 3 visit to Philadelphia is another game that books can be written about. Two egregious errors, however, stand out, the first one being another questionable coaching decision on fourth down.
The Giants had just stopped a Philadelphia drive on downs and had momentum as they drove to the Eagles two. Whether Sterling Shepard had a touchdown on the previous play is entirely different debate, but the Giants, who had just 13 points on the season up to that point, desperately needed to score in any way shape or form on fourth and goal. Rather than go for the Rosas chip shot, McAdoo and Co. opted to go for six, lining up in a single back set, fullback-free despite keeping Shane Smith on the roster. The stout Eagles defensive line stuffed Orleans Darkwa, sending the Giants into the locker room scoreless. The Giants’ hoped that the decision would change the momentum of the game. It did … just not the way they intended.
Smith, by the way, was released mere days later, ending the Giants’ highly anticipated fullback experiment before it truly began.
Week 3: The Loss Before The Loss
By now, you know how that the showdown with the Eagles ended, but in case you missed it (spoiler alert), undrafted rookie Jake Elliott sailed an improbable 61-yard winner through the uprights for the win. But the Giants lost the game, or at least overtime, one play earlier.
Seemingly channeling his inner Matt Dodge, Brad Wing‘s poor punt sailed only 28 yards to the Philadelphia 38. The Eagles chose to go for the immediate win, and you made it this far, so you know that it worked out. But the vital piece of this losing puzzle is not Elliott’s legendary boot, the longest by a rookie in NFL history, but a 19-yard Carson Wentz pass to Alshon Jeffery one play before. The Philadelphia line gave Wentz time to throw, and Jeffery quickly scurried out of bounds, given time to do so when bamboozled cornerbacks Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins bumped into each other. Failing to take the Eagles’ final attempt for the win seriously, the Giants were caught looking ahead to overtime. An overtime, they soon discovered, would never happen.
Week 7: Fail Mary, Part 2
The 24-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks wasn’t going to make or break the Giants’ season, but it broke the will of the MetLife Stadium faithful.
In a scene that brought back unpleasant memories of the replacement refs, the Seahawks again benefitted from a “simultaneous possession” situation in the end zone, awarded a touchdown from Landon Collins that more or less put the game out of reach. Those clad in blue began to make their way to the exits, shades of neon green and the number 12 in their place as MetLife Stadium transformed into CenturyLink Field, as audible pro-Seahawks chants rose from the stands. Giants fans pride themselves on sticking with their team through good times and bad, but they abandoned their team as 1-6 became a reality, leaving their seats to joyous Seahawks fans. Based on the remaining home slate, the opposing invasions may only get worse.