The New York Giants have continually found new ways to lose this season, but on Monday night they went back to an old faithful: Daniel Jones heart-wrenching turnovers. Big Blue lost 25-23 in a game they had every opportunity to win over the heavily favored Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants went toe-to-toe with the Buccaneers in every aspect of the game, outgaining them in total yardage 357-344. They narrowly lost the time-of-possesion battle by ten seconds. The two teams even managed an identical 5.2 yards per play. The difference, for New York between winning and losing were two inexcusable second-half interceptions by the quarterback Jones.
The first came with New York leading 14-6 on the opening possession of the third quarter. A terrific kickoff return by Dion Lewis gave the Giants great starting field position at their own 44-yard line. But on a second-and-8, Jones was pressured in the pocket and short-armed a pass intended for Sterling Shepard on the far sideline. The ball never came close to Shepard, and was easily picked off by Carlton Davis. Darius Slayton had broken away from coverage on the play, but Jones had already come off that progression and didn’t spot his open receiver. The Buccaneers would capitalize on the turnover by kicking a field goal and cutting the lead to five.
The second came with just over 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter. New York had the ball up 17-15 at Tampa Bay’s 34-yard line, in a position to at least attempt a field goal to take a five-point lead. On a second-and-5, Jones was harrassed by Shaquil Barrett as he scrambled out of the pocket. Instead of throwing the ball away or just taking the sack, Jones forced a late pass behind Golden Tate that was intercepted by Sean Murphy-Bunting. The Buccaneers would cap their ensuing drive with a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Mike Evans to take a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
Jones also missed on a number of deep balls that could’ve resulted in touchdowns or at least big gains. Not all of those misses were entirely his fault, but they’re the kind of opportunities an undermanned team like New York can’t afford to let slip away.
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In fairness to the second-year quarterback, he made a number of impressive plays in the game as well. Both of his touchdown passes were beautifully thrown balls into tight windows, and he led a last minute touchdown drive down eight to try to force overtime. However, he threw the ball late to an open Dion Lewis on the two-point conversion attempt, which allowed safety Antoine Winfield Jr. to close on the pass and break it up. The play was initially flagged for pass interference on Winfield Jr., but upon further discussion the officials decided to not call any penalty.
Such has been the rollercoaster of Jones’ young career so far. He makes enough high-end plays to instill belief, but also makes more than enough poor plays and decisions. Right now, the bad is far outweighing the good, and it’s been largely responsible for New York’s 1-7 record on the season.
The Giants also got the short end of the stick from the officials. Aside from the aforementioned non-call on the game’s last play, New York was called for seven penalties totalling 73 yards. Three penalties for 20 yards were called against Tampa Bay. Add in a defensive letup from Big Blue in the second half, which allowed the Buccaneers to score 19 of their 25 total points, and the Giants once again wound up on the losing side of a close game.
Here are your Week 8 “Podium/Sodium Players”, i.e., three players Giants fans would like to reward for their efforts, and three they’re feeling real salty about.
Gold Medal: WR Sterling Shepard
Shepard earned the gold medal in his return from injury last week. He took it again this week with another “sterling” performance, if you will. The Oklahoma product caught eight passes for 74 yards and once again proved to Jones’ most reliable target. He did misplay a deep ball on a double move in the third quarter that could’ve been a huge play, so his night wasn’t perfect. Still, it’s no coincidence that New York’s offence has improved drastically since he came back.
Silver Medal: S Jabrill Peppers
Peppers was a player some fans were giving the goat horns last week, as he in coverage on Philadelphia’s game winning touchdown. The second-year Giant responded with a brilliant performance Monday night. He somehow managed to beat out Blake Martinez for the team lead in tackles with 10, inculding nine solo. Peppers was everywhere for this Giants defense, pressuring Brady on blitzes and tackling backs on screen plays in the open field. He was even strong in coverage, registering 2 passes defended.
Bronze Medal: RB Wayne Gallman
Gallman is in his fourth year with Big Blue. He had yet to have his chance at being the team’s lead ball carrier. With Saquon Barkley out for the year and free-agent acquisition Devonta Freeman dealing with an ankle injury, Gallman took advantage of his opportunity Monday night. The 2017 fourth-round pick ran hard all game, rushing for 44 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown, and catching a screen pass on a trick play for 18 yards. He gashed Tampa Bay’s defense for a few big runs up the middle. The Clemson product is making a strong case to be New Yor’s feature back even when Freeman returns.
Salty: DT Dexter Lawrence
As a first-round pick in his second season, the mammoth Lawrence should be establishing himself as one New York’s top defensive players. Unfortunately, he’s been making less of an impact than backup B.J. Hill recently. Lawrence was touted as powerful interior presence with high pass rushing upside. He’s yet to show that type of game consistently. An immobile target like Brady in the pocket should’ve played right into Lawrence’s ability to push the pocket. Instead, he was mostly invisible.
Saltier: CB James Bradberry
It’s hard to be too mad at Bradberry given how well he’s played all year, but he fell shy of expectations this game. He let Evans have a solid day against him with five catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. He also committed two crucial pass interference penalties that extended Buccaneer scoring drives. Bradberry wasn’t bad by any means, but he played well below the standard he’s set for himself as a Giant.
Saltiest: QB Daniel Jones
The reasons for some major saltiness towards Jones have been documented above. But here’s a stat that ESPN ran during their broadcast that should set alarm bells off in Giants fans’ heads.
Daniel Jones has 34 turnovers in 20 career games.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 23, 2020