new york giants
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New York Giants defense failed to keep Baker Mayfield and the Browns passing attack in check amid a 20-6 loss on Sunday Night Football.

You could say what you want about the decision to go for it on fourth down early in the game instead of kick the field goal and take the points. You’re entitled to your own opinion when it comes to Freddie Kitchens’ play calling, Colt McCoy’s performance, or the inability of the run game to find a spark.

But at the end of what was an ugly night for the New York Giants, this loss came down to the defensive unit’s failure in containing Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns passing attack.

The front seven, which has been very strong in recent weeks (and especially was when it recorded five sacks against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense), just could not get to Mayfield on a consistent basis whatsoever.

Big Blue ended the 20-6 loss with one sack of the third-year quarterback, a play made by Dexter Lawrence on the opening drive of the second half.

But other than that, Mayfield possessed a significant amount of time in the pocket for much of the night, something the Giants couldn’t afford to allow in the absence of star cornerback James Bradberry.

Taking advantage of an above-average situation, Mayfield threw for 297 yards and a pair of touchdowns on an overly impressive 27-of-32 passing. Isaac Yiadom and the rest of the Bradberry-less secondary failed to contain wideouts Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins. The former caught seven balls for 61 yards and one touchdown while the latter recorded four receptions for 76 yards.

On a brighter note, the Giants kept star running backs Nick Chubb (15 carries for 50 yards) and Kareem Hunt (seven carries for 21 yards) in check. Nonetheless, the main keys to what would’ve been a massive victory in the midst of the current NFC East title race were getting pressure on the quarterback and stepping up when it came to defending the pass.

The Giants, unfortunately, didn’t succeed in either aspect of the game amid falling to 5-9 and remaining a game back of the division lead (Washington is 6-8). Mayfield’s success was the story of the night, and the Giants defense is at fault for letting the pen hit the paper.

Zero turnovers were forced by Big Blue’s defensive unit as well — another notable reason for Cleveland’s success. The Giants needed to produce in that area in order to keep the Browns’ strong offense off the field, but of course, that didn’t happen.

So what’s next for the G-Men?

Well, they’re still alive in the NFC East title race and will take on Baltimore in Week 16 followed by Dallas in Week 17. All they’ll need to do is finish with the same record as Washington —  they own the tiebreaker due to a pair of wins over the Football Team.

That could still occur, but a win on Sunday Night Football would’ve greatly helped the Giants in terms of this race.

Five wins. Nine losses. Off to Baltimore to face Lamar Jackson and the Ravens next Sunday afternoon.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.