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The Giants surprised their fans with an unexpected push for the playoffs this season, but in the end, they proved what they probably already knew.
They’re not ready. Not yet.
That was made crystal clear by the way they were thoroughly outclassed on Sunday in a must-win game against the Baltimore Ravens. Their defense was pushed around. Their offense, as usual, was a no-show. And in the end, they lost 27-13, stepping to the edge of elimination.
And now the Giants (5-10) wait for the late afternoon games. If either Washington (6-8) or Philadelphia (4-9-1) wins, the Giants are out.
Regardless of that, the Giants have locked up their fourth consecutive season of double-digit losses – something they had never done before. That won’t obscure the progress they made in Joe Judge’s first season as a head coach, but it certainly will put a damper on the enthusiasm. So will the way they melted down with their season on the line.
And this was a complete meltdown. It was 14-0 before they got their first first down. It was 20-3 before they ran their 20th play. Their defense provided no resistance to the revived Ravens’ attack. And not even the return of Daniel Jones (24 of 41, 252 yards, one touchdown) could save an offense that has been mostly miserable all year.
Here’s a deeper look at what went wrong …
The Giants’ defense was just overmatched, especially in the first half of this game. They gave up two touchdown drives to start the game that used up 23 plays and more than 13 minutes of the clock. Sandwiched around a three-and-out by the Giants’ offense and it looked even worse. By the end of the first half, the Ravens were out-gaining the Giants 282-95, and had held the ball for 22:38 of the first 30 minutes. That is a dominant performance. When it was over, Baltimore had out-gained the Giants 432 to 269 and held the ball for 35:09.
One big reason for that? The Ravens are the NFL’s No. 1 rushing team, and they were clearly not afraid of the Giants’ sixth-ranked rushing defense. And they established that early, getting 95 rushing yards on 16 carries on the first two drives alone. They finished with 249 rushing yards, led by Gus Edwards’ 85 on 15 carries. The most rushing yards the Giants had given up in a single game this season before this was 159.
Jones wasn’t bad in his return from hamstring and ankle injuries, but he also clearly wasn’t himself. He ran only once (for three yards on a scramble with a minute remaining in the game) so he again was one-dimensional. He also looked stiff in the pocket, which was definitely a factor as the Ravens’ pass rush got going in the second half. Was he healthy enough to play? It was worth the risk in a must-win game for the Giants. He wasn’t the reason the Giants lost this game.
How out of sync was the Giants’ offense at the start of this game? They had back-to-back false starts on third down on their opening drive – the first by right tackle Cam Fleming and the second by right guard Kevin Zeitler. That’s inexcusable
It’s probably easier to say that nothing went well for the Giants’ defense, but the pass rush was particularly poor. They couldn’t get near Lamar Jackson. They didn’t sack him once, barely touched him and they certainly couldn’t contain him as he ran 13 times for 80 yards
The Giants’ offensive line had a decent first half, though it came with a big asterisk since Jones only dropped back to pass 13 times and they only tried to run five times. In the second half, it all fell apart, especially with the Ravens knowing the Giants had to throw it. It was made worse by the fact that Jones was clearly limited in his ability to escape trouble or even slide up in the pocket. It wasn’t as bad as he was two weeks ago, but he was still a sitting duck. On one drive in the fourth quarter he was sacked on three consecutive plays. In all, he was sacked six times.
Judge famously passed on two easy field goals early in the game last week against the Browns in favor of two, risky, fourth-down plays because “field goals weren’t going to win this game”. It was 0-0 the first time he did it and the Giants trailed 7-3 the second time he did it. So why, then, did he not go for it on a 4th and 6 from the Ravens’ 13, trailing 17-0 late in the first half? Field goals weren’t going to win this game either.