The Giants are making history for all the wrong reasons.
Fresh off another late-game meltdown, Big Blue has to endure the ignominy of not being able to hold a 10-point fourth quarter lead for the second straight week. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time in Giants history that they’ve lost consecutive games after leading by 10 or more points in the fourth quarter. This is also the first time in franchise history that the Giants have started a season 0-2 in three straight years.
It’s safe to say that home has not been too sweet for Big Blue, either, as they’re now 2-4 in MetLife Stadium home openers – including four straight defeats at their relatively new digs.
That’s not the type of stretch head coach Tom Coughlin had in mind to open the season, especially for a team that already had a small margin of error in hopes of ending its three-year playoff drought.
But the coach told his players that their goals can still be met if they manage to shore up fixable mistakes.
“There’s little things that you can grab ahold of [and correct]. The [Atlanta] pass rush was severe at that time [the Giants’ final drive]. Plenty of pressure. They had their ears pinned back. We also had some misfires and delay of games that can’t happen,” said Coughlin, who then tried to accentuate the power of positive thinking. “It’s all positive going forward. We’ll continue to be positive and use our meeting times with positive reinforcements. But sooner or later, you’ll have to learn to make it happen in critical moments. The fourth quarter was 14-0 [in Atlanta’s favor]. By and large, you have to make it happen … The opportunity is there. It’s just a matter of getting over the disappointment as fast as you can.”
Whatever good mojo that Coughlin is trying to instill into his team needs to work quickly, because these days, not even the coin toss has gone right for Big Blue. The Giants won the coin toss Sunday and opted to defer, which meant they took possession to start the second half. But not even that strategy worked, continuing a trend since 2012 that has New York sitting at 0-7 in games in which it won a coin toss and chose not to go on offense after the opening kickoff.
It may be a matter of luck and coincidence, but the Giants could use a reversal of fortunes. Thankfully, noted linebacker Devon Kennard, his team is in such a terrible division, that there’s still a realistic shot at winning the NFC East. And that quest begins on Thursday night, when they host division rival Washington on a short week of preparation.
“It’s a division where anyone can win it. We feel we can compete with all the teams. All the opportunity in the world is still there,” said Kennard. “It just comes down to finishing plays, finishing games, and making plays in critical moments. I think we have a resilient team. It [the losing streak] didn’t kill anyone’s confidence. It’s a short week and we’re already on to Washington. We have a chance to win a divisional game on Thursday.”
Eli Manning echoed Kennard’s sentiments. And while he didn’t channel his inner Aaron Rodgers and tell the masses to “r-e-l-a-x,” he noted there’s still plenty of time to turn around the season.
“A lot can happen in the next 14 games. There’s still a lot of games. We need to find a way to win. Everybody’s play has to improve – myself also,” said Manning, adding that he feels the issues he and his team are having are all correctable. “Everybody’s working hard, [and] we’re not having a lot of mental errors. But execution can be improved, and the preciseness of the offense. We need to keep challenging ourselves. I understand when I play well and when I don’t play well. I’m aware of the plays I’d like to have back. My confidence comes from knowing that I’ve made plays before, made comebacks. I still feel good about this offense.”
Coughlin noted that while the way his team has lost games is irksome, there’s still a lot of which to build confidence that he and his coaching staff can use to rally the team and boost morale.
“It’s hard, and the fourth quarter diminished any good thoughts [even though] Shane Vereen really gave us a boost, Dwayne Harris was really good in the return game, and the fact we rattled off 17-straight points,” Coughlin reasoned. “But ultimately, we were 1-for-4 in the green zone, and the fact we didn’t get any turnovers. There were lots of yards by both teams, but when it mattered most, I was disappointed with how it turned out.”
Big Blue won’t have much time to pity themselves or mourn the Falcons game, as there is a bitter rival coming into MetLife Stadium in a couple of days, anxious to continue the Giants’ disappointment.
Big Blue notes:
– The Giants are 49-39-3 in home openers.
– Manning is the 15thplayer in history to pass for at least 40,000 yards. Manning hit the 40,000 mark on a 26-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr. in the second quarter.
– Manning has not thrown an interception in either of the first two games, the first time that has happened in the 11 years he has been the Giants’ season-opening quarterback (not including his 2004 rookie season, when he took over in the 10thgame).
– Not all was lost for Big Blue, as their run defense rapidly improved. Atlanta’s 56 rushing yards was the lowest total by a Giants opponent since Philadelphia ran for 48 yards on Oct. 27, 2013. The Falcons averaged just 2.5 yards a carry.