Eli Manning couldn't lift his Giants above the Chiefs.
It's beginning to feel like this team isn't supposed to win.
The New York Giants, still winless through four weeks of regular-season play, dropped their Sunday afternoon matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-7. It was the third consecutive game in which the Giants fell by at least three scores. Collectively, the Giants have been outscored 110-30 in those games.
It's funny; I never thought I'd find myself longing for the Week 1 Giants, who committed six turnovers in a mere five-point loss to the division rival Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 8, but I do. At least those Giants were still in it at the end. The ones we see now have seemingly forgotten what it feels like to be competitive.
It was more of the same in Week 4, as the Giants were completely blown out yet again.
Was there anything new to take away from this particular pounding?
So, this is what 0-4 feels like.
Forget about the playoffs; it's time to start wondering if this team will even win a game in 2013. The last time Giants fans have experienced any semblance of victory elation was on August 10, when the Giants were the lesser of two evils in an 18-13 preseason stinker with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers, by the way, have lost every single contest—pre- and regular season—since then.
You have to go back to last December for the Giants' most recent regular-season win, a 42-7 thrashing of the Eagles in a Week 17 matchup with no playoff implications. Since the Giants' 2012 season ended after that game regardless of its outcome, it ultimately served as nothing more than a moral victory. You have to go back three more weeks for the last time the Giants celebrated a meaningful triumph.
On Dec. 9, 2012, the Giants beat the New Orleans Saints, 52-27, in front of a home crowd. David Wilson had a career day, rushing for 100 yards, returning kicks for over 200 yards and scoring three total touchdowns. During that game, the Giants made a promise to their fans. A promise that Wilson was a talent worth building around. It was a promise that the team was only going to be better with time.
That vow has since vanished. The 2012 Giants collapsed in the two games directly following their win over the Saints, and the 2013 Giants have yet to win a game. Twenty-five percent of the season is now in the rearview mirror, but New York has hardly left the starting gates. It looks like those fans at the Saints game were duped, and they're probably just finding out now.
No, it's not the one you're used to. The Giants are suffering from a different type of second-half slump.
The Giants have been outscored 96-35 in the second half of games this year. Although, in some games, like Sunday's versus the Chiefs, New York has been in contention at halftime, this team hasn't come close to playing a full 60-minute contest. In the second half, the Giants hit the brakes while their opponents only seem to speed up.
It's no recipe for success. In fact, the Giants under Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning have always made hay when the time runs short. Coughlin's teams rode fourth-quarter comebacks all the way to two Super Bowl titles, as his quarterback once possessed the most envied late-game magic at the professional ranks. Manning and the Giants, who would regularly escape with a "W" through a trusty trap door, are now laughed off the stage before the final act even ends.
We've watched each of the last four games slowly slip from Manning's grasp, as each breath behind his desperation heaves holds a bit less hope. The once-unfamiliar grows slightly more recognizable every time we see the Giants begin to sputter. You can almost predict the exact moment in which implosion becomes imminent.
The bright side (if there is one) is that, at this rate, it'll be nearly impossible for the Giants to have their usual second-half slump in the final eight games of the 2013 season.
In each game, there has been a single play that absolutely crushes any chance at a Big Blue victory.
This play is called the backbreaker.
Down by six in the waning minutes of the Giants' Week 1 bout with the Cowboys, New York was driving toward what would presumably be a game-winning score. That's when a Da'Rel Scott-tipped dump pass landed in Brandon Carr's waiting arms, where he carried it in for a 49-yard score, giving Dallas a 12-point lead with less than two minutes to play.
A week later, while battling Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the Giants pulled to within one point of the lead in the third quarter. That's when the Broncos scored three touchdowns in the span of five minutes, the last of which being a completely demoralizing 81-yard punt return touchdown by Trindon Holliday.
In Week 3, versus the Carolina Panthers, the Giants needed to set the tone early in the second half. The Panthers held a commanding 17-0 lead at halftime, but New York could effectively strike back with a quick counterpunch at the start of the third quarter. That notion was cut short when Carolina's Brandon LaFell caught a 20-yard touchdown pass, making the score 24-0 less than four minutes into the second half.
Then, finally, against Kansas City in Week 4, the Giants were hanging with the undefeated Chiefs late into the third quarter. That is until Dexter McCluster returned a Steve Weatherford punt 89 yards for a touchdown just before the fourth quarter began. The game was decided at that point, as the final two touchdowns proved to be nothing more than icing on Kansas City's barbecue-flavored cake.
Yeah, it tasted that bad.
The Giants had the right game plan to beat the Chiefs, and, for much of the game, it was executed.
The Chiefs hadn't turned the ball over once leading up to their matchup with the Giants. Then, New York was able to force three, including two interceptions of the tidy Alex Smith, who's not exactly a tightrope walker when it comes to taking risks.
The Giants couldn't run the ball before Week 4. However, against the Chiefs, they almost gained 100 yards despite limited reps. David Wilson averaged over four yards per carry, as the young back found room to run for the first time all season.
New York worked hard to keep Manning upright, allowing just three sacks behind a hodgepodge offensive line. Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, who entered the game as the league's leading sacker with 7.5, did not bring down Manning once.
For the majority of the game, Jamaal Charles, Kansas City's biggest offensive weapon, couldn't find any room to run. The Giants linebackers actually looked good, and Manning was even able to connect on a deep touchdown with Victor Cruz. If so many things went right for the Giants, how did the score end up so lopsided in the opponents' favor?
Quite simply, New York didn't capitalize upon the opportunities it was afforded.
The Giants did not score a single point off any of their three takeaways. They attempted passes twice as often as they ran since they were constantly playing from behind. The line gave Manning a decent chance to throw, but he completed less than 50 percent of his tosses. The defense managed Kansas City's biggest threat to score in Charles, but the special teams allowed McCluster to break free for a punt return touchdown.
Until this team proves it can put it all together, it will be a long time before the Giants get that elusive first win.