The NY Giants’ offense struggled mightily as Daniel Jones was sacked six times in a 26-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals
They NY Giants had the chance to build momentum in the NFC East race, and drive a stake through the Cardinals’ flickering postseason hopes on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, but instead face a rude awakening following a 26-7 loss.
Sunday was the equivalent of the Giants losing two games, in the sense that there’s an outside chance that the Cardinals and Giants could both be in the mix for the NFC Wild Card and Arizona now owns that tiebreaker.
The Giants’ defense couldn’t have been put in much worse of a position for much of Sunday’s game, and largely withstood the onslaught as the offense and special teams sputtered.
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ offense began three first half possessions in Giants’ territory, and just one inside of their own 40-yard line. Meanwhile, the Giants did not run a single play in Cardinals territory in the first half.
Murray and the Cardinals opened up possessions from the Giants’ 9 (fumble recovery return), Giants’ 38, Cardinals’ 47, Giants’ 21, and Cardinals’ 43 in the first half, dramatically winning both the field position and time of possession battles in the first 30 minutes.
Somehow, the Giants’ defense only allowed one first half touchdown and held Arizona to a 13-0 lead.
The defense, at this point forward, is going to be the backbone of any postseason charge the Giants mount, and the offense did Patrick Graham’s unit no favors on Sunday.
But, it was evident on several third downs where Daniel Jones had the chance to run and either took a sack or threw the football away that he was not fully confident — and perhaps not fully healthy — in his right hamstring.
Jones was sacked six times, including twice on a fourth quarter drive where it seemed as a result he was hobbled and struggled both to elude pressure as well as hit a wide open Wayne Gallman on a screen pass where it appeared he couldn’t fire off his plant-leg.
The Giants’ commitment to the running game and RPO-centric scheme that were the hallmark of New York’s offense during a four-game winning streak were replaced by Jones dropping back to pass 21 times on 43 plays against the Cardinals.
Here’s a look at what what went wrong in SUnday’s loss:
Special teams woes continue
For the third consecutive week, the Giants’ special teams were a liability rather than a strength, giving up a pivotal play.
As the Giants’ defense stonewalled Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and the Cardinals’ defense through the first half, Dion Lewis fumbled a kickoff at the Giants’ 21-yard line that Arizona recovered.
What for the better part of two-plus seasons had been among the Giants’ strengths, the special teams have struggled mightily the past three weeks despite solid coaching from coordinator Thomas McGaughey and the influence of Joe Judge.
If this team is going to wind up winning the NFC East, or win a playoff game, special teams are going to need to dramatically improve over the final three games of the season because New York’s dominant defense can’t be the only fully-functional unit.