The Giants and Cardinals has at least one factor in common Sunday afternoon – both should have been playing for pride.
The Cardinals did and the Giants didn’t.
Arizona looked crisp and rolled out two trick plays that worked to perfection, while the Giants looked flat and like a team playing out the string in the Cardinals’ 23-0 shutout in the desert.
It was Arizona’s first shutout in 25 years, and the Giants suffered their first since Philadelphia blanked them, 27-0, in 2014. The loss also left New York (2-13) with its first 13-loss season in club history.
The way the season has been, should you have expected anything different? It should have been different, though, as the Giants let this one get away.
Ironically now the Giants will be better off losing their season finale at home next week against Washington to secure them the No. 2 pick in April’s draft. If they win and Indianapolis (3-12) loses at home against Houston, the Giants pick third. If Indianapolis wins and the Giants lose, New York will get the second pick.
It could be a miniscule point, but the Giants will be better with the No. 2 pick. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen wants to play in New York. Who knows what the Browns will do with the No. 1 pick. Will another quarterback be in their offing?
With the way things went in Arizona, the Giants may not have to worry.
Eli Manning, who had an effective passing game against Philadelphia a week earlier, never could find a consistent rhythm all afternoon. Manning looked shaky and tenuous, completing 27 of 45 attempts for 263 yards with an interception.
He also was under more pressure as the game progressed and lost a fumble that resulted in a touchdown that sealed the win.
But the Cardinals didn’t appear to be in trouble at any point.
The Giants again had another clumsy effort on the ground, accumulating just 43 yards on 20 carries.
Evan Engram left with a rib injury in the first half, and Sterling Shepard has an adequate day among the remaining receivers.
Defensively, the Giants’ basic replacement secondary gave Larry Fitzgerald a likely parting Christmas and retirement gift, failing to stop his nine catches for 119 yards with a touchdown on his possible final home game.
The Giants did register two sacks on backup quarterback Drew Stanton, but gave him too much time to have a two-touchdown afternoon.
So, it should be an interesting day at Met Life next Sunday.
Manning will get the start, but there is increasing interest to see Davis Webb.
It’s too late to evaluate whether he will be the Giants’ future unless the team already has committed to him without any on-field play. They certainly could use the No. 2 or 3 pick in other areas.
Maybe the Giants will give their fans a parting victory as a post-holiday gift next week and even unveil Webb.
If they do, it may not be the right response for their future. Go figure.
Like their snake-bit season, playing for pride could hurt the 2018 season and beyond.