3 Takeaways from Giants' Week 2 Loss
The football went wide right of the uprights, the clock ran out and the visiting fans donned in blue erupted in cheers. It seemed the New York Giants had just notched their first win of 2021 on Thursday night, while continuing their recent domination of the Washington Football Team.
That didn't end up being the case.
As Washington's Dustin Hopkins missed a 48-yard field goal as time expired, a penalty flag hit the field because New York defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence had jumped offsides. Hopkins didn't miss when given a second opportunity, kicking a 43-yard game-winning field goal to send the Giants to a 30-29 loss.
It's the first time New York has lost to Washington since Week 8 of the 2018 season, as the Giants had won the previous five meetings between the two teams. Quarterback Daniel Jones was 4-0 in his career against Washington before this heartbreaking defeat.
Now, the Giants are 0-2 and will have 10 days to prepare for their Week 3 home matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
Here are three takeaways from New York's Week 2 loss.
Too Many Mistakes, Missed Opportunities Doomed Giants
Clearly, Lawrence's offsides penalty was costly. If he doesn't jump, the Giants win the game when Hopkins misses his field-goal attempt. But it was far from the only blunder made by New York on Thursday night, with the earlier miscues allowing the game to still be close late.
The Giants committed 11 penalties for 81 yards. Prior to the final seconds, the most impactful one had been a holding call on wide receiver C.J. Board in the second quarter that took a touchdown off the board. Jones had an incredible run that would have resulted in a 58-yard score, but after Board's penalty, New York settled for a field goal. Washington followed with a touchdown on its ensuing drive and took a 14-10 lead into halftime.
But the Giants' biggest missed opportunity wasn't a penalty, but rather a dropped pass. Late in the fourth quarter, Jones heaved a deep pass to Darius Slayton, who was wide open downfield for what would have been an easy touchdown. However, Slayton couldn't haul in the throw, which came at a time when New York was leading 23-20 and could have put away Washington for good.
Add it to the list of key plays that could have swung the end result in the Giants' favor.
"It comes down to the small details and obviously we didn’t get those done today," New York wide receiver Sterling Shepard said, per Noah Trister of the Associated Press. "It’s something that we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get corrected."
Barkley Still Isn't the Running Back He Was Pre-Injury
On the Giants' second drive of the night, Saquon Barkley broke off a huge run, bursting through Washington's secondary and gaining 41 yards. It was the first time this season that the 24-year-old running back looked like the explosive playmaker he was prior to suffering a torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season.
However, Barkley's other 12 carries resulted in only 16 yards, as Washington bottled him up at the line of scrimmage nearly every time he touched the ball. There was progress after he had only 26 yards on 10 carries in New York's Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos, but only slight progress in terms of his offensive output.
"I was able to go out there and play a full game. My body and my knee responded well. Kind of knocked that rust off and was able to find one type of run to get open a little bit," Barkley said, per Peter Botte of the New York Post. "It was an explosive run, I guess. But got to continue to trust it, trust the knee, trust the system. Hopefully, I’m going to continue to get better."
The Giants need Barkley to be better, or else their offense is quickly going to get one-dimensional. Washington's secondary has been struggling, so Jones aired it out for 249 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 95 yards and a score. But that is unlikely to be a formula for success every week.
New York's offensive potential is limited until it can establish its running game, and it would be huge for the team if that came in the form of Barkley getting back to full speed.
NY's 0-2 Starts Haven't Ended Well in Recent Years
An 0-2 start isn't anything new for the Giants. This is the fifth straight season in which they've lost back-to-back games to open the year, and it's the eighth time it's happened in a span of nine seasons.
Over the previous four seasons, New York never finished with more than six wins. It's made the playoffs only once over the past nine years, and that was in 2016, the one time during that span it didn't start 0-2. And according to CBS Sports, teams that have started 0-2 since 1990 have gone on to reach the postseason only 11.6 percent of the time.
"I’ve seen it go one of two ways: We can either fix it now and not do like we’ve done in the past and wait until half the season and try to turn it on," Shepard said, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. "We have to fix it right now. This loss doesn’t define our season."
But if the Giants fall to 0-3, the next loss might. Even though the regular season now has an additional week with a 17th game for each team, three straight losses would be extremely difficult for New York to overcome. Fortunately for the Giants, they'll be facing the Falcons, who are likely to also be 0-2, at home.
New York's schedule gets quite difficult after that, so things could quickly spiral further out of control if it ends up losing to Atlanta.