BY Marvin A Azrak
As a Giants fan, there are light losses that you can flush away quickly even if they end dramatically because you know they couldn’t have put themselves in a more comfortable position than they had in that contest. On the other hand, we have the “Giant” losses which are ones you don’t forget unless they make it to the dance, or fall into the league’s infamous “Tank race” for the top draft pick. Last season, that 6-10 brought hope and excitement to a fanbase that was starving for meaningful football games in December, which is what they got by finishing just a game shy of the “NFC Least” title in week 17. However, there was that one divisional battle in Philadelphia, where the G-Men blew a 10 point lead on national TV with just two minutes remaining, allowing the Eagles to walk away with just one of their four victories on the season. The same events took place in week five in Dallas, meaning the 4-2 record in divisional play wasn’t good enough when it was all set, and done. Had New York polished off one of those wins, they would’ve been playoff-bound, but instead were left all offseason wondering what could’ve been.
Then came week one of this year, where Big Blue expectedly fell 27-13 to the Denver Broncos at home, but Giants fans were hopeful that an NFC East win over the reigning division champions who they swept last season would get them back on track.
On Thursday night Football in our nation’s capital, this was one where the Giants lost it 30-29, more than Washington won it.
The Giants came out with a great game plan and were firing on all cylinders, with the Daniel Jones running TD, and put pressure on QB Taylor Henickie from the get-go. But as expected, Washington made adjustments and started to get more aggressive, especially in the passing game where Terry Mclaurin burned the Giants on back-to-back plays for a TD that tied the score, beating James Bradberry to the spot twice.
A couple of drives later, Jones burst for a 58 yard TD run that would’ve been his second one of the game, but it was negated due to a holding penalty on CJ Board, and they needed to settle for Gano 31st straight field goal.
Entering the second half, I was hoping the Giants would get star RB Saquon Barkley more involved aside from the 41 yards run earlier in the game, but Washington was ready for him. This meant DJ would need to carry the freight which he did, crushing the football team with his legs as he has so many times throughout his three-year career. It kept the drive alive and got them in good enough range, for another Graham FG from 47 yards out, cutting the deficit to one.
At this point in the game, I felt confident in this Giants team because they were holding their own overall, and raided the WFT o-line on the ensuing drive giving the ball back to Jones with a chance at the lead.
Once again, they tried to get Saquon involved, but it only set them back as Washington was glued to him like white on rice all game long. They were heavily aided by the Football team’s PI on 3rd and 15, but after Sterling Shepard was brought down for a loss of nine(Pretty predictable they were going short there too), it seemed that it would all be for naught. However, it was at that moment where Jones went into “Danny Dimes” mode, and hit Kennedy Golladay for 12 down the sideline to bring up third and short, before lining one up the middle to Shepard for a fresh set of downs. On the proceeding play, Danny had his best throw of the evening, dropping it 33 yards right over the shoulder to Darius Slayton on the left side of the end zone for a 20-14 NY lead after the successful Ganoextra point.
Graham’s kicks were also perfect all night long, all booming through the uprights for touchbacks, not giving Washington anything to work within their return game.
Taylor Henickie would once again rescue his bunch when all seemed lost, finally setting screen to throw off the Giants defense, and it worked as Antonio Gibson got free for a couple of big runs, while the passing attack continued to haul incompletions from their QB who was finding his men when he was required too.
But it would be Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham making adjustments on the fly, as creeping towards the red zone in Giants territory, Graham decided to send pressure each of the next few plays, and it worked holding them towards a Field Goal.
With the game in the final frame, Terry Mclaurin would get more chances to burn the G-men, and he did getting Washington into deep into the opponent’s territory. But this could’ve all been negated if not for the Bradbury flag on third and seventh, which would keep the drive alive, and later lead to another Dustin Hopkins FG.
It took only two plays, and 17 seconds for Henickie to put what I honestly thought was the Giants out of their misery, finding Jared Mckissic for 56 yards down the right sideline, before slinging it to the back of the endzone for Rickey Seal-Jones, on a questionable decision by Adore Jackson to go low, instead of high on 1 on 1 there, but I couldn’t blame him for that was a superb throw by TH, and an even better tip-toe catch by “The Seal” to put the Football team up 27-26.
After getting bulldozed on offense for a quick punt, I thought that it would be the ballgame, for Taylor would run the clock down, and put this one to bed with either an FG or a score. They ran it with Gibson who used his sheer size, and strength gobbling right at Xavier McKinney, forcing New York coach Joe Judge to use his first timeout with 2:22 remaining. But for all he had done to hurt them, Bradbury recused the Giants when they needed him the most, stepping in front of Mclaurin to intercept the pass, and would Rome free for five yards to the Football team 20, with 2:12 left on the clock.
There was no better time for Jones to try one more time to let Saquon dance, but he just didn’t have it, and Ron Rivera would smartly use up two of his timeouts to stop the clock, making the G-Men settle for Gano ‘sfifth Field Goal of the game, accounting for 17 of New York’s 29 points.
As TH took the field with 2:00 remaining, my mind(And then the broadcast) shifted back towards the offensive miscues that would’ve put the game out of reach already, except here was the G-man defense needing to play the defense of their lives to wrap up the win. Taylor once again came up when he needed to, finding Jared again on third and eighth, before finding Logan Thomas for a gain of nine to put WFT at their own 47. However, they were still short of Hopkins range which was at best 55 yards, so they needed about 6 yards to set up their kicker. Luckily for them, the visitors were kind enough to do so, with a neutral zone infraction on Logan Ryan, bumping WTF up five yards, giving them a fresh set of downs with 39 seconds remaining before a five-yard floater to Deandre Brown hit the magic number. For insurance yards, Heinicke found Adam Humphries for a gain of five yards, ultimately setting up a Hopkins 48 yarder for the win with five seconds remaining.
Having been videoing my reaction to the game down the stretch, I said “You never want to put the game into the hands of the other team’s kicker”, but Hopkins would give the NYG a lifeline by missing it wide right, to seemingly end the contest. But wait, the Giants had their gift-wrapping plans, as an offside penalty on Dexter Lawrence bumped everything up five yards, giving Dustin Hopkins a do-over which he nailed for the now victorious Washington Football Team 30-29.
The Giants are now 0-2 for the fifth straight year and eighth in the past nine seasons. This loss is a divisional loss that will likely come back to haunt the G-Men, just like last year’s late loss to the Eagles did. When I predicted them to go 9-8, this was one I had them winning, with the only divisional loss coming in Dallas. Well now 0-1 in NFC East play, the Giants will likely need to win out vs the Boys, Eagles, and WFT to have a shot at the division, and must take down the Falcons in nine days at home to set up a matchup with the Saints that may have wild playoff implications down the road.
As for Washington, they now got the Bills next, but face off against the Falcons in week four. It will take the Giants a couple of weeks to overcome the magnitude of this loss, and if you think I’m overreacting then look at what happened last season.
The Giants played well(Jones especially going 22/32, 249 yards, 1TD, ran for 95 yards, and a TD) but beat themselves, and now the hope is they don’t beat their season as well. Honestly, I think they will bounce back but what worries me is how this game can come back to crush them later on.