new york giants
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Red zone inefficiency, a lack of a pass rush, and dropped passes all contributed to the New York Giants’ 20-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Jason Leach

With Washington losing to the Seattle Seahawks 20-15 on Sunday afternoon, the New York Giants had a chance to move back into first place in the NFC East if they defeated the Browns in primetime.

But instead, they suffered their second consecutive loss, this time by a score of 20-6.

Many issues affected the Giants on Sunday night, such as a lack of a pass rush, dropped passes, and the wide receivers’ inability to create separation.

But what plagued the Giants more than anything was their lack of inefficiency in the red zone.

The Giants were able to reach that portion of the field on each of their first three drives but came away with just three total points combined.

The first drive of the game ended on downs — Big Blue attempted a fake field goal on 4th-and-6 from the Browns eight-yard line with punter Riley Dixon throwing an incomplete pass intended for center Nick Gates. Considering how the Giants struggle to score points, having your punter attempt to complete a pass to your center is mindboggling.

On the Giants’ second trip to the red zone, they were able to convert a Graham Gano 37-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Their third trip to the red zone, however, concluded in another turnover on downs; Wayne Gallman was stopped short on a 4th-and-2 handoff from the Browns six-yard line.

Cleveland was much more efficient with its red zone opportunities.

After the Giants defense forced a turnover on downs during the Browns’ opening possession, Cleveland executed a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Baker Mayfield two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Austin Hooper. The Browns thus took a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.

On their following drive, the Browns traveled 95 yards on 10 plays and concluded the possession with a Mayfield two-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry that extended their lead to 13-3 (the subsequent extra-point attempt was no good).

The score would remain 13-3 at halftime, and you got a sense the points the Giants squandered would play a huge role in the outcome (they should’ve been down by only one score).

Cleveland would then extend its lead to 20-3 on a Nick Chubb one-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that essentially put the game out of reach.

With 4:11 remaining in the game, head coach Joe Judge made another surprising decision from the Browns 21-yard line by electing to kick a field goal to cut the deficit to 20-6. Following the field goal, an onside kick try by the Giants was recovered by the Browns, a play that sealed the deal.

This loss puts a serious dent in the Giants’ playoff chances; they can be eliminated next week with a loss to the Ravens along with a Washington win over Carolina.

Whether the Giants make the playoffs or not, it was evident Sunday night that they’re going to need to acquire a true No. 1 receiver and top-tier edge rusher in the offseason. Mayfield had all day to throw on Sunday.

Everyone knew it would be tough for the Giants to win with Colt McCoy starting in place of Daniel Jonesย and James Bradberry missing the game due to his placement on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Regardless, fans were expecting a better performance than this.

Two weeks ago, the Giants were atop the NFC East and in control of their own destiny. Now, they’re in a tie for second with the Cowboys and on the brink of elimination.