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It wasn’t an ideal night for the Giants defense, and the unit’s struggles played a crucial role in the team’s loss to Washington.

Last year, all we heard about was how great this Giants defense was. How James Bradberry had become one of the league’s top cornerbacks and how Leonard Williams’ success in the pass-rushing department had made such a difference.

It’s been a tad bit different of a conversation this year though.

This unit failed to show up against Denver in Week 1; the same story repeated itself in Week 2 against Washington.

Thursday night at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, the Giants defense had a chance to construct a bounce-back game against backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke. The primary reserve signal-caller made the start due to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hip injury.

And the Giants made him look like a franchise quarterback.

Heinicke threw for 336 yards and two scores on 34-of-46 passing. New York failed to consistently pressure him all night, which would’ve forced him into making more mistakes than he actually made.

James Bradberry and the secondary also failed to blanket top target Terry McLaurin, who caught 11 balls for 107 yards and one touchdown.

Washington (again, led by a second-string quarterback) finished the night with 407 total yards and didn’t even win the time-of-possession battle (28 minutes, 16 seconds).

Repeating a strong defensive performance from one year to the next is always tough — this Giants unit in 2021 isn’t on its way to reviving its 2020 success…at all.

But it wasn’t just the defensive failures that played a role in this loss — a significant offsides penalty additionally carried weight.

On the final drive of the game, placekicker Dustin Hopkins lined up for a 48-yard field goal to give Washington the 30-29 victory.

The ball was pushed to the right of the upright; the kick was no good.

However, the referees eventually called what was an offsides penalty on Giants defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence. Hopkins subsequently made the pending 43-yard try to give Washington its first victory of the year.

It’s mistakes like these that kill a team and ruin momentum. It’s mistakes like these that separate the elite teams from those that are last-place-caliber squads.

It’s mistakes like these that lose games…exactly what we witnessed from Big Blue Thursday.

Missed Opportunities

Oh wait, there are more reasons for the Giants’ loss?

Sadly, there are.

The Giants could’ve put 14 more points up on the board Thursday, but crucial mistakes took those valuable opportunities away from them.

In the second quarter, with the game tied at seven, Daniel Jones executed a fabulous zone-read keeper to the left side of the line, used his speed to cut upfield, and set up his blockers for a long touchdown run…which was negated by a C.J. Board hold.

You could argue the call as much as you want — but the call was made and the touchdown was taken away.

The Giants ended up with three points on that drive. The possibility of scoring seven instead really stings when you look at the 30-29 final score.

There was also the Darius Slayton drop in the fourth quarter, a crucial mistake in the end zone that would’ve propelled the Giants to a 10-point lead if the subsequent extra-point attempt was made.

Jones stepped up in a not-so-clean pocket and delivered a beautiful ball to the third-year receiver…who couldn’t reel it in with nobody around him.

A busted coverage from the Football Team indeed — the Giants failing to execute off the opponent’s mistake surely cost them in the end.

Moving forward

Pressuring the quarterback is crucial in a passing league. The Giants haven’t succeeded in this department on a consistent basis through two games and the lack of a pass rush will come back to bite them even against a team like Atlanta in Week 3.

Say what you want about the Falcons and how they looked putrid against the Eagles, who are supposed to be one of the worst teams in the NFL.

If Matt Ryan has time, which is what Teddy Bridgewater and Taylor Heinicke had, he will pick the secondary apart. That’s how it works in this league.

Zero wins. Two losses. Back at MetLife Stadium next Sunday for the Falcons matchup at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY

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