The New York Giants are twelve days removed from the worst season in franchise history.
Everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong for the Giants in 2017. Injuries, in-house bickering, a lack of leadership from the front office, and incredibly putrid play on the field contributed to an NFC-worst 3-13 record.
For better or for worse (definitely for worse), these are the four most memorable games of the Giants’ 2017 season:
Both the Giants and Rams were coming off bye weeks. The Rams were 5.5-point favorites as a West Coast team playing an early game in the Eastern time zone.
Eli Manning was sacked by the incomparable Aaron Donald and fumbled the ball on the game’s opening possession. This was followed by a four-play Rams touchdown drive that took one minute, 52 seconds with little to no Giants resistance. The Giants answered back with a 14-play, 67-yard touchdown drive of their own.
Los Angeles followed the Giants touchdown with 17 unanswered points. The Giants couldn’t get it together. After their initial touchdown, they lost a fumble and was forced to punt before a field goal made the score 24-10. The Rams responded with an interception of Manning and a field goal before the half. They put their foot on the Giants’ necks in the third quarter with 21 unanswered points and the Giants unable to stop them.
The final score was 51-17. Rams quarterback Jared Goff set career highs in passing yards (311) and touchdowns (four). Wide receiver Robert Woods made mincemeat out of the Giants’ secondary with a 67-yard touchdown reception on third-and-33. The Rams defense forced three turnovers and their special teams owned the Giants with a blocked punt and a blocked field goal.
The only positive to come from this game is Manning becoming only the seventh quarterback in NFL history to eclipse the 50,000 passing yards milestone. Unfortunately, this game is primarily remembered as one of the worst home losses in franchise history.
It was the first time since Nov. 14, 2004 that Manning didn’t start for the Giants, ending the second-longest consecutive start streak by a quarterback in NFL history. Manning spent the day walking the sideline with no helmet and listening to plays with an ear piece. Instead of No. 10 behind center, Geno Smith got his first start in perhaps the Giants’ final game at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
The Giants didn’t have a good afternoon. Smith lost two fumbles before connecting with Evan Engram on a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. The Giants marched inside the Raiders 30 twice in the first half but came away with nothing because of strip sacks by NaVorro Bowman and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. Landon Collins also dropped an interception on a drive that eventually led to a Raiders field goal.
Marshawn Lynch, playing in his 12th game after his 2016 sabbatical, lived up to his name Beast Mode. Playing in front of his hometown, Lynch gained 101 yards and a touchdown on just 17 carries. His 51-yard touchdown run on the Raiders’ opening drive pretty much did the Giants in, even though the game was close throughout.
Derek Carr put the fork in the Giants with a perfectly executed touchdown drive that included a 59-yard pass to Cordarrelle Patterson. Carr finished 22-of-36 for 287 yards and the go-ahead touchdown. The Giants’ ineptitude is even more blaring considering the Raiders were without wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
Final Score: Raiders-24, Giants-17
The Giants haven’t had much success against the Eagles in the 21st century on the road. Of the 18 Giants/Eagles games played in Philadelphia, the Giants lost 11 of them coming into this game.
The Giants looked out of sorts for much of the first three quarters but were still in the game. They just couldn’t get out of their own way. In the final minute of the first half, Manning hit Sterling Shepard for what appeared to be a two-yard touchdown pass that would have tied the game but Shepard was ruled out at the one. Later in the drive, Orleans Darkwa was stopped by Joe Walker and Vinny Curry on fourth down. Manning also threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-2 late in the third quarter.
The Giants entered the final quarter down 14-0. Then, something happened. The offense sprung to life for the first time. Odell Beckham Jr. scored two touchdowns and Shepard added another to give the Giants a 21-14 lead, their first lead of the entire season. The Eagles responded with a touchdown run by Corey Clement to tie the score at 21.
After a Giants three-and-out, the Eagles got the ball on the game’s final possession. After Carson Wentz hit Alshon Jeffrey for a 19-yard pass, Elliott comes on the field to attempt a 61-yard field goal. He had already missed one from 52 yards earlier in the game. There’s no way he’s going to make one from 61 yards…right? Wrong. Elliott hits the field goal which was the longest field goal by a rookie placekicker in NFL history. Eagles win 27-24.
This is the game that psychologically destroyed the Giants. In spite of a slow start, the Giants offense put up 24 points in the fourth quarter and showed a glimpse of what they could do. It was the first time in eight games the Giants scored more than 20 points. Even Beckham’s dog celebration penalty wasn’t that costly as the Giants recovered the ball on the ensuing Eagles possession. In the end, the Giants’ fourth quarter rally wasn’t good enough. This was the type of loss they couldn’t recover from as evidenced by them dropping 10 of their final 13 games.
This game, regardless of what Manning and Philip Rivers will say in front of microphones, is deeply personal. Manning didn’t want to play for the Chargers. The Giants drafted Rivers and traded him to the Chargers for Manning. The Chargers are one of two teams Manning has never defeated in his NFL career but the story of the day was the injury bug infecting the Giants’ receiving corps.
The game was a sloppy, error filled mess played on a wet field by two teams who were winless at the time. There were a combined 21 penalties for 154 yards. The Giants got a safety in the first quarter after the Chargers snapped the ball at the 7-yard line before Rivers was ready, forcing him to toss the ball out of the end zone. It was the first time all season the Giants scored in the first quarter.
Besides the injuries to the receiving corps, this was the game where the chinks in the Giants’ armor became visible for the first time. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was pulled out of the game, leading to a shouting match on the sideline with head coach Ben McAdoo. Eli Apple, who was benched for the game’s first three series, later vented to the media. Janoris Jenkins was conspicuously absent during the game’s final two snaps.
The Giants lost 27-22. If the loss in Philadelphia two weeks earlier put the Giants’ 2017 season on life support, then the loss to a winless Chargers team at home pulled the plug on it altogether.