Giants head coach Tom Coughlin preached all week his team needed to “play above the Xs and Os,” but as the Big Blue faithful saw firsthand in a deplorable 40-24 loss to the Colts, the team played down in most every category.
The Giants (3-5) were coming off the bye week, after dropping its two previous contests to divisional rivals, and should’ve came out determined to not lose its third straight game. But they came out flat, never showed any fire and never responded in a loss that wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated.
“The third quarter was obviously important, as they took advantage of our errors and we couldn’t match them. We had a couple of late scores, but the three points in the first half aren’t gonna allow you to beat a team that was No. 1 in the league [in points scored],” Coughlin said. “They didn’t do it all alone, as we helped them of course. We knew full well of the explosiveness of this team and the production of their quarterback. We still felt pretty good in the first half with our defense, but they came out and scored two touchdowns to start the [third] quarter. I think we played hard, but we had a little bit of a lull. … Everything was just too little, too late.”
Indianapolis registered three touchdowns in a span of seven minutes in the third quarter to ultimately doom the Giants.
Coughlin was obviously disappointed in the way his team responded to the early tribulations, but even he wasn’t to be absolved, as his slow reaction time might’ve cost his team seven points.
The veteran coach hesitated to challenge a call which led to the Colts’ first touchdown. Andrew Luck hit tight end Coby Fleener for a 32-yard score as the duo caught the Giants napping while their sideline deliberated about whether to challenge the previous play that was ruled a completion, but looked otherwise. The Colts wisely hurried to the line of scrimmage and scored, just seconds before Coughlin was able to throw down his challenge flag.
“They go fast and we knew that. But when you’re not prepared, all of a sudden you’re out of place,” said Coughlin. “I wasn’t sure of the [previous] play, but they were able to take advantage of it. We worked on working that fast all week and to line up properly when they went uptempo, but we didn’t get it done. I don’t know if he caught the ball. I felt he did, but I wasn’t sure. I was trying to do anything I could to stop what took place, but it didn’t work out that way. Fourteen points came off our mistakes. We prepared ourselves to not allow them to go so fast and to keep up, but we didn’t.”
That first Colts’ touchdown could be placed on Coughlin’s uncertainty, but the rest of the evening’s blame had to fall at the feet of his players.
The final dagger came when Luck hit Reggie Wayne for a 40-yard touchdown just one play after linebacker Jacquian Williams failed to bring down the burly quarterback for a sack, as he avoided what would’ve been damning field position.Cornerback Jayron Hosley got beat on the play, as he failed to get a finger on the perfectly thrown out-pattern when he gambled by trying to jump the route.The Colts’ lead ballooned to 30-10 with six minutes remaining, and effectively ended the game.
Coughlin said lost opportunities like the aforementioned are what have troubled his team all season.
“We have to get turnovers. When we have hands on the ball or lose fumbles on the turf, we have to get to those,” said Coughlin. “Not all was bad. There were some good plays out there, but we needed more — from both sides of the ball. We need to score some points. It’s been three weeks where that’s not enough points.”
Quarterback Eli Manning also lamented lost opportunities for a Giants squad that used to make its own luck during their Super Bowl-winning days. Manning looked as good as Luck did, statistically, but the veteran signal-caller knew better than to think he played evenly with the burgeoning superstar.
Manning went 27-of-52 for 359 yards, two touchdowns and no picks, while Luck went 25-of-46 for 354, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We got into too many third-and-longs. I wasn’t very sharp early. I missed some throws — especially high on a few throws, and I don’t know how that happened,” said Manning. “They did a good job in pressuring us. There weren’t a lot of things that we weren’t prepared for. We just didn’t win [one-on-one battles] and didn’t take advantage of their press-man [coverage].”
About the only New York receiver who did any damage was rookie Odell Beckham Jr., who had eight receptions for 156 yards. Both numbers were game-highs. But Beckham, like most of his teammates, failed to reach the end zone — with fellow rookie wideout Corey Washington and tight end Larry Donnell securing meaningless touchdowns late in a game that was already decided.
Big Blue notes …
»The time of possession favored the Colts, but not as badly as the game might’ve indicated. Indianapolis held a slight 33:03 to 26:57 advantage. The real killer were the third-down inefficiencies.
“We were just were leery of the time of possession. But it wasn’t that bad,” said Coughlin. “But if you’re not able to do that [control the clock], then you’ve gotta convert on the third downs when they come, and we didn’t.”
»The news got worse for a secondary that was already riddled with injuries, as cornerback Prince Amukamara injured his biceps and is likely lost for the season.
“It seems like we’ve lost a player or two each game and Prince was playing well,” said Coughlin. “It’s a blow to lose him.”
» Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan was honored at halftime with a ceremony, as he was surrounded and greeted by as many as two-dozen former Giants’ legends, including Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter@TBone8.