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Giant Takeaways: Giants Snapped Back to Reality By Saints

Oh, there goes the winning streak. The New York Giants fell to the New Orleans Saints by the score of 33-18 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

When it looked as though the Giants had finally turned things around in Week 3 against the Houston Texans, they fell down the same path that haunted them in recent memory. Inconsistency. As a result, the Giants fall to a 1-3 record.

Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s action.

Offense is…Offensive

It seemed like the Giants found the solution for their offensive woes last week. In Week 4, New York is back to phase one.

The playcalling was suspect, with the Giants failing to take advantage of a favorable matchup against a bottom-tier defensive squad in the Saints. Quarterback Eli Manning didn’t even target any receivers deep downfield against a pass defense that had surrendered 336.7 yards per game through the air entering the game on Sunday. While Manning did complete 31-of-41 pass attempts, it only equated to 255 passing yards. It was hauntingly similar to their Week 2 performance against the Dallas Cowboys…complete with checkdowns.

New York looked to continue their strong offensive play from the week prior on the opening drive, with Manning finding wide receiver Sterling Shepard in the end zone. After that, it was like Pat Shurmur and the Giants hit the reset button, as they failed to score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter on a goal-line dive by rookie running back Saquon Barkley.

Perhaps the biggest sticking point is the Giants failed to net 300 yards of total offense on the day. With the amount of expectations on paper, the inability to break that threshold is growing tiresome. The offense needs to go back to the drawing board, and fast.

Shurmur’s Clock Management Blunder

While the offense was the main point of criticism for Shurmur, his clock management skills was a close second.

The Saints were threatening in the red zone late in the second quarter. Shurmur had three timeouts at his disposal in order to stop the clock and help give the Giants the ball and the opportunity to put points on the board before halftime. New York would stop an Alvin Kamara rush on second-and-goal, but Shurmur allowed the Saints to run the clock all the way down from 1:05 to 21 seconds.

Even though the Giants would stop the Saints from scoring a touchdown, the Giants had a chance to make a statement just before the start of the second half, considering they had three timeouts at their disposal. Instead, Manning kneeled down, allowing the clock to run out inn the first half.

In any sport, the name of the game is to make the most of your opportunities. Pat Shurmur had an opportunity to give the Giants one final chance to shift the momentum before heading into the locker room, but he squandered it.

Poor Officiating

The enemy on the field did not turn out to be the Saints, but rather the officiating crew lead by Pete Morelli. There were plenty of flags on the field, and many of them were questionable.

One penalty in particular came early in the second quarter. During a run by Alvin Kamara, cornerback Janoris Jenkins made a tackle by the running back’s shoulders to bring him to the ground. However, Morelli would give Jenkins a penalty, saying the corner made a horse collar tackle, giving the Giants a 15-yard penalty and keeping New Orleans’ drive alive. The more times the replay was shown, the worse the call was. Even CBS commentators Phil Nantz and Tony Romo said the officials got the call wrong.

It only got worse in the third quarter, as  Sterling Shepard was grabbed by the shoulders and taken to the ground after catching a pass. However, no yellow flag hit the field. Nope, it was considered a clean play in the most glaring form of irony you’ve possibly ever seen.

Not to mention a missed facemask penalty on Barkley, and Morelli’s crew picking up an offensive pass interference call on Saints tight end Josh Hill, stating his block was made at the line of scrimmage (it was actually two yards past the line).

Linebacker Alec Ogletree shed light on the performance from the officiating crew and revealed after the game that a referee told him after an unspecified play, “they wouldn’t make that call in the Super Bowl.”

While the calls were frustrating, it was not the main catalyst for the Giants loss. The lack of offense was the reason New York suffered their third loss on the season.

Defense Not to Blame

Let’s make this clear, the late scores the Giants defense surrendered do not speak for the strong day the squad had against New Orleans.

New York did what many thought was unthinkable, and that’s hold Saints quarterback Drew Brees to 217 passing yards and zero touchdowns on the day. That is the least amount of passing yards Brees had in a game since Week 10 of the 2017 season against the Buffalo Bills. Ironically, it was also the last time Brees was held without a passing touchdown. James Bettcher’s game plan worked early on, as Brees had difficulty creating some early damage in the game like he normally does.

The Giants defense also managed to contain star wide receiver Michael Thomas, as he was limited to just 47 yards on four receptions, whihc was in part due to the coverage from Jenkins.

Captain Landon Collins had arguably the best game of his career, as he recorded 14 total tackles and one pass defensed, which came as the free safety prevented a would-be touchdown pass to tight end Benjamin Watson.

Yet, the defense could only hold back the Saints offense for so long. Specifically, the brunt of the damage came from Kamara, who rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, as well as catching five passes for 47 yards. The defense could only do so much, especially with the lack of scoring from their offense.

A strong day from the defense was marred by the same offensive issues we’ve seen over the past couple of years. Deja vu, anyone?

What’s Next?

The Giants will now have to go back to the drawing board, as they face go down to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers. New York will face off against Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey, who make up the league’s best rushing offense. As for the offense, they will have to find their offensive mojo once again, as they have to try and score on the Panthers defense which ranks in the top-15 in the NFL.

It will be another tough test for the Giants, as they continue to chase after their elusive second win of the 2018 season.

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Scott Rogust
General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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