Giants vs. Redskins: What We Learned from Big Blue's 17-16 Loss in D.C.
Losses like the one the New York Giants suffered on Monday night always frustrate me.
They frustrate me because I know if one or two plays had gone differently, they'd have ended up winning the game.
Yet, the Washington Redskins were able to hold off the current Super Bowl champions 17-16 at FedEx Field on Monday night.
The loss made the Giants 7-5, while the Redskins improved to 6-6 and are now just one game behind the Giants in the NFC East along with the Dallas Cowboys, who are also 6-6.
So now the Giants will try to hold on to their very minimal one-game lead in the division as they prepare to battle in their final four games of the season, one of which is against the New Orleans Saints this coming Sunday.
What did we learn about the Giants from their 17-16 loss on Monday night?
They Had Trouble Stopping Alfred Morris
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I think Alfred Morris should get a game ball from Mike Shanahan after his gritty performance against the Giants.
Morris had 22 carries for 124 yards and really frustrated the Giants' defense with a lot of solid runs.
He did have the one fumble in the game which got recovered by the Giants.
However, his biggest run of the game was on 3rd-and-3 with less than a minute left that sealed the game for Washington and gave them another first down.
The Giants came close to stopping him behind the line, but Morris kept his feet moving and got enough yards.
The Giants have struggled against some of the really good running backs during 2012, including LeSean McCoy, Trent Richardson and now Morris.
Sean Locklear's Knee Injury Is a Tough Blow to O-Line
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Last week, the Giants lost Andre Brown for the season.
Now, there's a very good chance that starting right tackle Sean Locklear may soon join him on the injured reserve list.
During the second half, Locklear's knee got twisted underneath Ahmad Bradshaw; he went down in a heap and even grabbed Bradshaw's leg as he grimaced in pain.
There hasn't been any official news regarding Locklear's knee injury and how severe it is, but the early reports are it is not good.
And that would be a major blow to an offensive line that has played well all season long.
If in fact Locklear is done for the rest of the season, that means David Diehl is back in as the right tackle, and he must step up his play.
Penalties Killed the Giants All Night
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There is nothing that Giants head coach Tom Coughlin hates more than bad penalties.
The Giants made a lot of them, which is very uncharacteristic of a Coughlin-coached team.
On Monday night, the Giants had nine penalties for 73 yards.
The referees didn't have to call the one delay of game on Eli Manning, so it really should have been eight, but I won't be that nit-picky.
A lot of the penalties fell on the offense, and whether it was holding calls or false starts, it was a sloppy effort in D.C.
In any NFL game, penalties kill momentum, and they certainly killed a lot of the momentum that the Giants had in the game.
During practice this week, the Giants will need to work on not making so many bad penalties that kill key drives.
David Wilson Continues to Be Unimpressive in His Rookie Campaign
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I know David Wilson has looked rather decent as the Giants' kick returner.
But the Giants did not use their first-round pick in hopes of a kick returner. No, they wanted a speed back who would make an impact.
And thus far, Wilson has yet to be that guy for the Giants.
Against the Redskins, Wilson had four carries for just nine yards. Just brutal.
There's a reason why the Giants were using more of Andre Brown in the running game with Ahmad Bradshaw instead of Wilson, and we're all seeing why.
Wilson has the speed, sure. But he has yet to show the maturity of an NFL running back who knows how to hit holes and make plays.
Yet, because of the injuries, Wilson is going to be needed out there as the second running back. Hopefully, it clicks for him late in the season.
The Giants Need to Capitalize More on Red-Zone Opportunities
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What drives me nuts a lot of the time is when the Giants get into scoring position and have to settle for a field goal because of bad play-calling.
Yes, Kevin Gilbride, I am calling you out on that one.
The Giants have such an explosive offense that was doing well when they were throwing the ball down the field and attacking, and yet they only scored one touchdown on Monday night.
You would never know that Eli Manning had 280 yards passing against the Redskins because of how they were kept to under 20 points in the game.
Why? Four field-goal attempts, one of which was missed by Lawrence Tynes.
Sure, I could say that if Tynes doesn't miss the one field goal in the first half, the Giants are actually winning 19-17. But it's the old case of "would have, could have, should have."
In the end, the Giants blew four chances to put seven points on the board against Washington.
Just think, take away the field-goal tries and put touchdowns in place of them; that gives the Giants 35 points, which is absolutely enough for them to win the game.
Going forward, the Giants need to start figuring out a better way to make the most of their red-zone opportunities and find a way to put seven points on the board instead of just three.
There's No Need to Panic for the Giants
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A loss is a loss in the NFL, but I don't feel demoralized as a Giants fan after that loss to the Redskins.
The Giants did only lose the game by one point and easily could have won if a few things had gone differently.
But "could have" doesn't make them 8-4 instead of 7-5 and keep them two games ahead in the NFC East.
However, this loss gives the Giants and Coughlin a lot to learn from and gives them motivation during the week to get better.
Coughlin knows that his team's final four opponents are no cake walk and that they must play up to the level of their opponents if they want to stay in first place in the division.
And I think they will. The Giants are a well-coached team that has been in this situation before.
Remember, last year the Giants lost 23-10 in Week 15 to the Redskins, and following that game went on to win their final two games en route to winning the NFC East.
I think the Giants will be able to rebound from this game, come home, have a great week of practice and give the struggling New Orleans Saints a fight at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
The loss sucks, but it's in no way the end of the world regarding the Giants' 2012 season.
Stay tuned, Giants fans.