The New York Giants got blown out once again, and yet, their season is still not over. Despite losing 27-13 to the Baltimore Ravens, the 5-10 Giants have a chance to win the NFC East. Thanks to losses by the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Big Blue can actually host a playoff game if they beat the Dallas Cowboys and Washington loses to the Eagles next week.
New York got outclassed in every imaginable way in their demolition at the hands of Baltimore. The Ravens racked up an astounding 249 yards rushing, which is especially embarassing for a Giants run defense that is supposed to be a strength of the team. Baltimore controlled the ball for over 22 minutes in the first half, scoring on each of their first five possessions.
With their defense unable to get off the field, New York’s offense had precious little opportunity in the first half. Big Blue squandered the few chances they did have with mistakes and unforced errors. After Baltimore’s extended opening touchdown drive, the Giants finally got the ball with 6:48 left in the first quarter. A three-yard run by Wayne Gallman and an incomplete pass put New York in a manageable third-and-7, but consecutive false start penalties by Cam Fleming and Kevin Zeitler backed them up to third-and-17. The Giants were forced to punt following a 10-yard catch and run by Evan Engram.
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On the Giants’ next possession, after another inevitable Ravens touchdown march, they actually got a first down before shooting themselves in the foot. Austin Mack dropped a five-yard pass on a third-and-4 from New York’s 36-yard line, killing another Giants’ drive before it started.
The Giants actually executed an eleven-play, 64-yard drive on their last possession of the half, but it stalled in the red zone and New York settled for a field goal. By the time the second quarter ended, the Ravens led 20-3, effectively ending the game.
If anything, this dismantling by an elite opponent shows just how far Big Blue still has to go. New York’s lack of talent and experience at receiver, EDGE, linebacker, cornerback, and offensive line was terribly apparent. The Giants gave plenty of work to do over the offseason, regardless of whether they make the playoffs or not.
Here are your Week 16 “Podium/Sodium Players”, i.e, three Giants players fans want rewarded for their efforts, and three they’re feeling pretty salty about.
Gold Medal: WR Sterling Shepard
For as woefully as the Giants’ receivers played overall on Sunday, Shepard actually had his best game of the season. The fifth-year pro reestablished the connection he had formed with quarterback Daniel Jones earlier in the year, as he hauled in nine catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. With Golden Tate having to miss this game with a calf injury, Shepard resumed his more befitting role in the slot, and flourished as a result. He even showed more burst after the catch than he usually does. At this point, Shepard is probably the only Giants offensive skill player than can feel comfortable about keeping his starting job for next year.
Silver Medal: QB Daniel Jones
Jones wasn’t great, but for a lack of better options, he gets silver medal honors for this game. The second-year pro went 25 for 41 for 251 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over once, which is a sign of progress for the young quarterback who has struggled with fumbles and interceptions. Jones was clearly lacking his typical mobility after returning from hamstring and ankle injuries. The blitz-heavy Ravens defense sacked Jones six times, none of which were his fault. His numbers could’ve been better had it not been for crucial drops by Mack and Darius Slayton.
Bronze Medal: TE Evan Engram
Engram has been a popular whipping boy for Giants fans this year, but the newly minted Pro Bowler had one of his better games of the year. The tight end caught seven passes for 65 yards, and picked up five more yards on an end-around. Engram was nothing special, but he was a key cog in moving the chains when the Giants were able to mount dirves. For all of his flaws, his speed and explosiveness can still be valuable assets for an offense when used correctly.
Salty: DL Leonard Williams
It may be unfair to ask an interior lineman like Williams to spearhead a team’s pass rush. With the state of the Giants’ roster right now, however, that is his task. He fell well short today, only registering one tackle with no sacks. The Ravens’ offense did whatever they wanted, and Williams, who’s supposed to be a disruptive force on the line, looked invisible. The former New York Jet has had a strong season overall, but he’ll be wanting top-of-the-market money this offseason. Games like this will give Big Blue brass pause about giving it to him.
Saltier: WR Darius Slayton
When this season started, there was some hope that Slayton could develop into a number-one receiver. That notion has now vanished. The second-year fifth-round pick had another disappointing game, catching just two passes for 26 yards. He had a bad drop on a deep ball along the left sideline with just under six minutes to play, when the Giants were down two touchdowns and could conceivably get back in the game. Slayton is just too inconsistent to be a reliable primary option.
Saltiest: CB Isaac Yiadom
The second cornerback spot had been a position of great concern coming into the year. During the middle part of the season, Yiadom had played it reasonably well, which quelled much of that anxiety. The last couple games, however, have exposed Yiadom as the sub-starter-level player he really is. The former Denver Bronco’s inability to cover one-on-one has forced New York to play plenty of soft zone coverage, which teams have begun to pick apart. He missed multiple tackles on running plays to the edge against Baltimore. The Giants have had to hide his weaknesses all year, and it’s starting to catch up to them.