Giant Takeaways: Defense Fails to Hold on to Late Lead, as Colts Escape With Win
The New York Giants fell to the Indianapolis Colts 28-27 at Lucas Oils Stadium on Sunday, thanks in part to a Andrew Luck touchdown pass to Chester Rogers in the final seconds of the game.
Many entered the game thinking the Colts would have their way with the Giants, but that wasn’t the case. The Giants took an early 14-0 lead, thanks to a one-yard touchdown run by Saquon Barkley and a three-yard reception from tight end Scott Simonson.
However, the defense struggled to keep down Luck and the Colts offense, as they continously found their way into the red zone. Even with a 27-21 lead, the defense faltered, albeit with some penalty help to set Indianapolis up for the game-winning score, leaving the Giants in stunned silence.
Here are some takeaways from the Sunday afternoon matchup.
A Bit of Retro Eli in Indy
Manning returned to the stadium where he and the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI, and he gave viewers a throwback performance on Sunday.
The 15-year veteran completed 25 of his 39 pass attempts for 309 yards and one touchdown. He attacked the Colts passing defense, which entering the game, he had a bit of an advantage. Between the 55 yard deep pass to Sterling Shepard to the 32-yard throw to tight end Evan Engram. Heck, Manning even scrambled for a one-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 24-14 in the third quarter.
Manning’s huge statistics were attributed to the Colts defense smothering Barkley, as he finished with just 43 yards on 21 carries. Barkley’s longest run of the day was an uncharacteristic six yards. As a result, Manning had to step up and he did…until the bitter end.
While many will point to Manning’s late interception, he can not be blamed for the loss. In fact, he played his strongest game of the season. It very well could help him keep his job entering the 2019 season.
Engram Emerges as Offensive Leader
The Giants didn’t have their normal pre-game motivatonal speech from Alec Ogletree, as he was ruled out with a concussion earlier in the week. Many speculated who would step up, and it turned out to be second-year tight end Evan Engram. He would follow up his fiery speech by turning in a strong performance against the Colts.
Engram was selected in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft as a dynamic tight end, who had the unique build of a wide receiver. Well, he used that to his advantage in Indianapolis. Engram hauled in six of his targets for 87 yards, including the aforementioned 32-yard catch. He didn’t limit his performance to just receiving, as he also contributed on the ground. Engram would log two carries for 26 yards as well.
This is why the Giants drafted Engram, as he provides the Giants a hybrid option that could do a bit of everything in the offensive scheme. While he was limited due to injuries for a majority of the year, give credit to head coach Pat Shurmur to utilizing his potential on Sunday.
James Bettcher’s defense started the game off strong, as they held the Colts scoreless into the second quarter of the game. In fact, they forced Luck to throw a lame duck pass in the endzone to Giants safety Curtis Riley, who looked like a receiver standing on his own island.
Yet, that’s where it would end, as the Giants had no answer for the Colts offense. Indianapolis would score three touchowns in the second half, and plenty of blame can be passed around.
Firstly, New York didn’t put enough pressure on Luck, as they recorded just one sack on the day. They had the opportunity in the second half, as outside linebaker Olivier Vernon forced a sack fumble on Luck,where rookie B.J. Hill would recover. Yet, the call would not stand, as cornerback Janoris Jenkins was called for holding, thus negating the turnover. Just two plays afterwards, running back Marlon Mack would score a three-yard touchdown.
Let’s not forget about B.W. Webb’s crucial pass interference penalty inside the endzone, and would gift the Colts seven-yards, and allow Rogers to score his game-winning touchdown.
While it does sting for the defense to surrender the lead, let’s not forget the injuries New York had on that side of the ball. Ogletree was ruled out of with a concussion. So, the Giants had to rely on Tae Davis, who struggled in pass coverage. Not to mention on that same final Colts drive, Davis was called for interference and reversed an incomplete pass call. Kerry Wynn was ruled out prior to kickoff with a finger injury. Finally, Landon Collins’ presence is sorely missed, as Luck and the Colts receiving corps picked apart the Giants defensive backfield.
Giants Rise Up the Draft Board
For those of you looking at the Giants potential draft position, well here’s your post-Week 16 update.
With the Giants loss, they moved up to No. 7 in the draft order. If the plan for the Giants is to take a future quarterback, they got some help. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ win over the Miami Dolphins forced them to drop down to ninth overall. It will remain to be see if they rise or fall from that position, as they face the 2018 NFC East Champion Dallas Cowboys next Sunday. One thing is for certain, they are in prime position to take a quarterback in a defense-heavy draft class.
Or they can take a pass rusher, defensive back, or offensive tackle, all of which the Giants need as well.
The Giants return home for the final game of the season, as they face off against the Cowboys, who appear fixated at the No. 4 seed in the NFC side of the playoffs. Will the Giants end the season on a high note? Or will the Cowboys impose their will on New York to enter the playoffs with momentum?
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