This was the unofficial end of the Giants’ season. A 27-22 comeback victory by the 0-4 Los Angeles Chargers doesn’t sound well. It surely didn’t look any better either.
Sure, there is a smidgen of a chance they could still make a run at the playoffs as well as the mathematical theories, but everyone has to be realistic about it.
They let the must-win game and playoff thoughts slip away. Considering the talent on this team, it is hard to imagine them being 0-5.
The Giants showed some life in the early going on both sides of the ball. Orleans Darkwa was getting the holes and ran the ball well. He broke free on a 23-yard touchdown gallop that gave the G-Men a 9-0 lead after their defense rattled Chargers’ quarterback Phillip Rivers and his line into committing a safety.
Brad Wing can’t be a goat from this game, as his punts pinned the Chargers back to numerous drives that began from behind their 20-yard line.
On a sulky, August-like day at Met Life, those visions during the summer of playoff grandeur and beyond slowly resurfaced.
Then, things fell back to their recent disastrous state in the second quarter.
Eli Manning over- and under-threw his receivers on eight different occasions. Los Angeles began the move the ball on the ground and in the air on the Giants’ defense, which quickly lost its newfound luster. The Chargers’ touchdown in the opening half was aided by an unsportsmanlike penalty by the Giants’ B.J. Goodson, who bumped an official along the sidelines.
You knew what was eventually coming.
Manning would regain his form and bring his team back. There was another classic touchdown hookup with Beckham that looked like the game-changer.
Yet, Manning still encountered more pressure from the Chargers’ defense that sacked him five times, causing a fumble on the final one that would lead to the game-winning score. Contrarily, Rivers began to find receivers wide open and behind the Giants’ secondary.
There is plenty of blame to go around, and fate also hand its hand in the mix. How many times does a team in one season lose consecutive games because of field goals in the final seconds, and also lose four wide receivers to injuries in one game?
I can’t recall seeing either of those incidents in all of my nearly 50-plus years watching the NFL.
Now, the Giants likely have lost Beckham, Dwayne Harris, and Brandon Marshall for an extended period of time. Sterling Shepard appears likely to return the soonest to the lineup. Beckham’s broken ankle likely means we won’t see him until 2018.
Life won’t get any easier on a number of fronts. For one, they travel to Denver next Sunday night for a nationally televised game and then return home against Seattle. Those games are followed by matchups with the Rams, 49ers, Chiefs, Redskins, Raiders, Cowboys, Eagles, and Cardinals before Christmas.
The offensive line showed some moxey in the opening quarter even though Ereck Flowers was beaten by Joey Bosa for a pair of sacks. They then again looked like a group that is constantly being patched together and is often overwhelmed.
The defense remains the enigma. Yes, they also showed some flash in the opening quarter and some in the second half, but they are still shadows of themselves from last year. Again, too many missed tackles that turned routine yardage into longer yardage. Discipline issues again surfaced, as the Giants were penalized 11 times.
Playcalling has been labeled as being overrated, but the Giants went away from Darkwa in the second quarter after he had 58 yards in the opening quarter. However, rookie Wayne Gallman’s scatback moves did provide a good balance.
Still, the Giants seemed to reach for the pass too much after moving the ball on the ground. And where was rookie tight end and top pick Evan Engram, who only was targeted once? Engram will now have a target on his back with a depleted and restructured receiving corps.
So what’s ahead? Gallman and Darkwa may develop into an effective backfield tandem. Manning hopefully will survive behind the line and avoid a major injury over the next 12 weeks. Engram will be available to reach his potential and beyond as one the game’s elite receivers. Damon Harrison, Jason Pierre-Paul and Landon Collins and the rest of the unit regains some of their mark as one of the league’s elite defenses.
A bounce-back to where they should be remains a faint possibility, but the Giants likely will have to scout some of the nation’s top offensive linemen when they draft ahead of the Jets next April.