Turnovers and special teams breakdowns costly
The Giants dominated every aspect of the first half, save for the scoreboard and two plays.
Following a methodical nine-play opening possession to jump out to a 7-0 lead, the typically stellar Giants special teams broke down in a big way.
Bengals kick returner Brandon Wilson took Graham Gano’s ensuing 68-yard kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown to tie the score on the longest play in Cincinnati franchise history. Later, Wilson took the second half kickoff 23 yards to the Bengals’ 38.
On a pivotal Riley Dixon punt with :57 remaining, the Giants allowed a return to the 50-yard line.
Special teams have been a hallmark for the Giants the past two seasons, but that was not the case on Sunday.
Later, the Bengals turned an Evan Engram fumble that Bengals defensive back Von Bell punched out of Engrams hands, into a Randy Bulloch 44-yard field goal with 3:37 remaining in the second quarter.
The game was tied at halftime, despite the Giants out-gaining the Bengals (223 yards to 66), picking up more first downs (12-4), and converting more third downs (55 percent to 40 percent), but the first half was a microcosm for how costly mistakes can be during a stretch run towards the postseason when margins for error become slimmer.
The impact of turnovers works both ways, as the Giants’ pair of turnovers forced in the second half turned out to be game altering.
From defensive end Niko Lalos’ third quarter interception to Logan Ryan’s forced fumble and fumble recovery, the Giants’ defense made two more plays Sunday that make it fair to wonder just how high this team’s ceiling has the chance to be.