The red-hot Giants entered Lumen Field in Seattle — twenty-eight hundred miles away from home — with a fifth straight win on the mind.
A quick glance at the schedule could’ve led you to believe a shoo-in victory was on deck, too. The opponent was a 4-3 Seahawks team in the post-Russell Wilson era for crying out loud.
But realistically, this was not supposed to be an easy matchup for Big Blue. And it wasn’t. Seattle came into the game with a talented rookie running back in Kenneth Walker, a surprisingly productive quarterback in Geno Smith, and the 12th Man in attendance. As a result, the Giants were overwhelmed and Brian Daboll’s men suffered their second defeat by a score of 27-13.
With gloomy Pacific Northwest weather, a dark sky, and six punts, the first quarter was the perfect scene for a nap. While the Giants’ defense kept the Seahawks off the board, the Daniel Jones-led offense was terrible. The Giants gained only 15 total yards in the first 15 minutes, with zero first downs.
The scoring didn’t commence until two minutes and 53 seconds into the second quarter, when the Giants’ secondary had one of its first lapses of the day. To conclude a 15-play, 69-yard drive that lasted nearly six minutes, Smith found star receiver DK Metcalf in the back of the end zone from three yards out. The fourth-year wideout was wide open to make the easy scoring play. A Jason Myers extra point gave the Seahawks a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Giants then found a small spark in the run game on their ensuing drive and picked up a few first downs but ultimately couldn’t cross midfield. But a Jamie Gillan punt to the Seattle two-yard line preceded an Adoree’ Jackson strip of Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett.
The Giants recovered the ball at their opponent’s 2-yard line. Two plays later, Barkley crossed the plane for his fifth touchdown of the year, with Nick Gates making a key block in his first game since 2021 (the interior lineman broke his left fibula and tibia in Week 2 of last season). Following a Graham Gano extra point, the game was tied at seven with just under six minutes remaining in the first half.
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams and safety Xavier McKinney each sacked Smith on the following drive to force a Seattle punt. But on a short return, the Seahawks’ punt cover team engaged on Richie James, forcing the Big Blue returner to cough up the football. Seattle recovered to set its offense up at the Giants’ 19-yard line.
Thanks to an illegal formation, however, the Seahawks’ drive stalled. They settled for a Myers’ 35-yard field goal, which hit off Dexter Lawrence’s fingertips but sailed over the crossbar for a 10-7 halftime lead.
The Giants got right to work to begin the second half, with Jones executing a 14-play drive that took up nearly nine minutes and featured five first downs. Eventually, two short Jones runs and an incompletion stalled the drive, and the Giants tied the game with a 31-yard Gano field goal.
Seattle didn’t take long to respond though, and only needed three plays to get from their 25-yard line into Giants territory. But on a 3rd-and-3, a perfect pass from Smith down the right sideline hit off Lockett’s helmet. The Seahawks settled for a 51-yarder from Myers to take a 13-10 lead with 2:42 left in the third quarter.
The Giants were able to enter Seattle territory on their next drive but a Barkley loss of eight (on what looked to be a busted play) stalled the possession. Gano thus answered the call again, this time from 45 yards out to tie the game at 13 nearly four minutes into the final frame.
But Seattle didn’t hang its head. Neither did Lockett, who got his revenge on the very next drive. Following the aforementioned fumble and drop, the veteran receiver beat Jackson on a double-move and was on the receiving end of a 43-yard touchdown pass. Smith was 5-for-5 for 75 yards on the drive, picking apart a secondary that looked lost on various occasions. With the subsequent PAT, Seattle took a 20-13 lead with under 10 minutes to play.
With the Giants’ offense needing to punt shortly thereafter, Wink Martindale’s defense responded with a huge three-and-out to get the ball back…until James lost a second fumble that Seattle recovered at the Giants’ 32-yard line. Two plays later, the Seahawks were in the end zone. Walker, the rookie sensation, avoided a number of would-be tacklers on a 16-yard touchdown run.
With 5:22 left, the Seahawks were up 27-13 and never looked back.
While the Giants showed some light with a few first downs on the following possession, a sack and two incompletions forced a turnover on downs. Seattle retained possession with just over two and a half minutes remaining and only needed to chew some clock and make another defensive stop for a crucial 27-13 victory.
Some thoughts as the Giants drop to 6-2:
James’ disaster. So it seems Richie James won’t be returning punts for the Giants anymore. The receiver fumbled a second-quarter punt return that led to a Seahawks field goal and 10-7 Seattle halftime lead. He then earned another chance in the fourth quarter with the Giants down 20-13 but lost a fumble on that return, too. The Seahawks scored just two plays later to go up 27-13.
The Giants will need to try out other players for the role — two fumbles from a return specialist is two too many. See if safety Jason Pinnock, cornerback Darnay Holmes, or maybe even receiver Darius Slayton could provide some value.
WR shortage. It’s clear the Giants’ lack of true talent at receiver is catching up to them. This team needs someone who can constantly produce for Jones and the offense. Because right now, it’s basically Slayton’s here-and-there moments and not much else.
Slayton finished with five catches for 66 yards, but all other receivers combined for just 23 yards on four catches.
With the NFL Trade Deadline this Tuesday, and Odell Beckham Jr. still on the market, general manager Joe Schoen needs to make some sort of move to improve this unit. The lack of talent is coming back to haunt the Giants in a major way.