(Neil Miller / Sportsday Wire)
The Giants lost a heartbreaker on Sunday in New Orleans to the Saints, 52-49, throwing away one of the best games of quarterback Eli Manning’s illustrious career.
Manning threw for six touchdown passes, and 350 yards on 30 completions on 41 pass attempts. Three of those touchdowns went to Odell Beckham, Jr., who had eight receptions for 130 yards.
the problem for the Giants was that their defense could not stop Drew Brees, who it’s remarkable to say, outdid Manning and threw for seven touchdowns. Brees threw for 511 yards and completed 40 of 50 pass attempts.
The game came down to a Giants punt with 12 seconds left after a three-and-out. Giants punter Brad Wing took a 15-yard facemask penalty on the return and that gave the Saints the ball in field goal range at the Giants’ 32-yard line. Kai Forbath hit a 50-yard field goal as time expired to seal the victory.
Manning said of it being kind of maddening that the offense had that kind of day and yet they couldn’t win, “That’s just football. Somedays the offense, everything is clicking; somedays, the defense is clicking. It’s a team and we’ve got to help each other out. We knew we were going against a good offense in the Saints, they’re going to be high-powered at home, they’re going to score some points—that’s just the way it’s going to be. We knew we were going to have to be productive offensively. As good as we were, we could have been better, we left some plays out there on the field and some possessions where we had three and outs and could have been even more productive, even as well as we did play.”
Manning said of being able to step back and appreciate what he was part of on Sunday, as he and Brees set an NFL record for touchdown passes in a game, “Yeah. It was a fun game to play in. Offensively, we felt good, we were moving up and down the field and had some big series where we knew we had to score and we were able to score. Kind of being down 14 a few times and firing back and tying it up. Defense gets the interception, take the lead. It was fun to be part of that, a high scoring game and back and forth and knowing we’ve got to keep going and feeling that we could keep scoring. Obviously we would have liked to have been on the winning side of it. But as an offense, you look at what you can control and we did a lot of good things, but it wasn’t enough. We could have been better, we needed to make a few plays we needed to make that we didn’t that could have been the difference. So we’ve just got to get back and get back to work and try to do better next week.”
Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin said on Monday, “I think, for one thing, it’s very important for everyone to understand we win and we lose as a team. There is none of this pointing the finger, there’s none of that. I don’t believe in that. What we spent last week trying to do, obviously, our goal—well not obviously, but our goal and our objective last week was to raise the level of our execution on all fronts, on all three phases, knowing full well that when you get to this time of the year, you better be playing your best football as you go through these more difficult games versus divisional, non-divisional, conference, non-conference opponents as you go through the meat and potatoes of your schedule here right in the middle of the year. You’ve got to be playing your best football or approaching that. So that was our goal. We did not accomplish that, obviously. We had some difficulty on the defensive side of the ball, no doubt, and some errors did occur, but we played hard and their passing game was very sharp, they had the ball right on the money, right where they needed to, they did rush the ball when they needed to, as well, but I can tell you that we continued to battle. I really felt when we scored our defensive touchdown that we were going to win.
“The end of the game pointed out another lesson for us, and we do come by our lessons in a very difficult and hard manner, we managed not to finish. We’ve always talked about finish, finish, finish and we needed to finish the game. We tried, even with 36 seconds left, we were trying to move the ball down the field to get our chance for a last-second field goal attempt ourselves. We had a couple of opportunities right there in that last three-and-out drive where the ball was very close, it was right on the finger tips twice, one would’ve given us a big play probably to midfield, another one would’ve given us a play to get us out-of-bounds and keep the ball, but that didn’t happen either.
“Then the only special teams thing, which I didn’t like in the game—well, there were a couple things—for them to have a 24-yard punt return at that time of the game and then to have a penalty, a face mask penalty adding another 15 yards, that’s a very, very difficult way to lose and a difficult way for us to have gone in there to a very tough place to play, battled, and yet not be able to come away with a victory,” said Coughlin.
Coughlin said of ever envisioning that this game would go the other way with all the points that your offense, with Manning’s six touchdowns, and defense, Trumaine McBride’s fumble return for a touchdown, all scored, “You wouldn’t, unless you were standing on the other sideline watching them put points on the board, too. I mean, remember we’re down three scores twice and we battled back. Obviously, a very, very good score right before the half and then coming back after the half and making the big play to Odell down the middle of the field to give us the tying score, those things were outstanding. We had to scrap and we did. We scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, which normally you’d be in celebration. You’d be talking about an accomplishment that, I don’t care who you are, is very rare for a professional or any other football team to be able to score of that nature in the fourth quarter. We did and we lost the game. There are a lot of reasons to be shaking your head.
“So what I spoke to our team about this morning was we’re still in first place in our division and we’ve got the Tampa Bay team coming up that just won a football game in overtime, obviously playing much better themselves than they had at the beginning of the year, and so we’ve got to get ready to play a very good Tampa Bay team,” said Coughlin.
Coughlin said of how they can regroup defensively, “You go back to fundamentals, you go back to some basics that obviously we struggled with a little bit. A couple times we didn’t line up properly or quickly enough, our communication sometimes was not as good as it should’ve been. I thought our guys basically did a nice job in a domed stadium, especially one of that nature where the noise level is such, but I thought we handled that very well. I just think there were a couple empty sets that they threw at us, a couple times we were late to the line. I think that happened a couple times in the game and those are the things that bother me the most. Get yourself lined up, get your eyes where they belong, play the technique you’re supposed to play, be ready to be a reactionary football player on the snap of the ball, definitely know what your assignment is, whether it be zone or whether it be man, and try to be at the right spot at the right time. So those are the things when issues arise, you’ve got to deal with them. So we will make sure those things get ironed out.”
Manning said of what the difference was for them this week in the passing game, “I thought we protected well, the offensive line played well. Thought we had a good down and distance, had some good play action, receivers were winning their one-on-ones. When the number one wasn’t open, had time to get to my second receiver or check down. I think it was a lot of first and second down production and we also had a lot of opportunities. Had a lot of possessions and we were able to take advantage of it. I thought in the Cowboys game we did some good things, had some big plays. In the Cowboys game, just didn’t have any possessions, only two possessions in the second half. It’s tough to do much on two possessions where you’re trying to score. So I thought we had a good game plan, good week of practice, and also having our receivers practice. Two weeks prior to that, Rueben and Odell did not practice all week, so it makes it tough. The other guys, the other receivers are running a lot of reps, they’re also maybe running positions that they’re not actually in in the game. They might doing other spots and moving all around. Come game time, they’re back to their original spot, which maybe they hadn’t been working at as much all week.”
Manning said of there being a concern that this season is kind of evolving into a one step forward, one step back a little bit where they can’t get on a roll at all, “No. I think we’re going to play in some close games and we’ve just got to find ways to get better. Just have great preparation for the next team we’re playing and just find ways to win. However way it comes up, you never know in this game which way it’s going to be. It’s going to be a high score and a low score or what plays or what series is going to make the difference. You’re giving yourself an opportunity to win and so we’ve just got to take advantage of those situations. We’re still in a good spot in the division and got a good bit of football left to play and all we can worry about is getting ready for Tampa this week and going down there and trying to play our best football.”