NY Giants studs and duds vs. Browns: Dexter Lawrence shows out, offense disappears

New York Giants quarterback Colt McCoy (12) under pressure against the Cleveland Browns during a game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, December 20, 2020, in East Rutherford.Nyg Vs Cle
New York Giants quarterback Colt McCoy (12) under pressure against the Cleveland Browns during a game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, December 20, 2020, in East Rutherford.Nyg Vs Cle /
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The NY Giants’ playoff hopes took a significant ding after a second consecutive disappointing home loss, this time to 20-6 to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night

Two of the other three teams in the NFC East lost on Sunday afternoon, opening the door for the NY Giants to sneak back atop the division standings with a victory over the Cleveland Browns in the NFL nightcap, but instead, Joe Judge’s depleted team was cut down to size.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was absolutely surgical from the pocket, completing 27-of-32 passes for 297 yards and a pair of touchdowns on his way to a 126.2 passer rating while leading the surging Browns to an effortless 20-6 win at MetLIfe Stadium.

“Obviously, if the other team has that kind of success,” Giants coach Joe Judge said afterward. “They’re going to be able to move the ball on you.”

This is now two weeks in a row that the Giants offered a listless effort, though this time with backup Colt McCoy at quarterback and a defense that was missing its best player — cornerback James Bradberry — in a game that exposed just how far this team is away from consistently hanging with playoff caliber competition.

Sunday also marks the fourth consecutive game the Giants’ offense has failed to score 20 points.

It is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, in today’s NFL that is geared toward pinball offenses to win when you are averaging fewer than 17 points per game.
“We have to go ahead and finish drives,” Judge lamented.

Two weeks ago, the Giants pulled off one of the most stunning upsets of the NFL season, going into Seattle and besting Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. But, while the Giants’ defensive line was downright dominant in the Emerald City, Sunday night’s home defeat showcased the dire need for an outside pass rush, particularly when the secondary was down two starters and relying on a second-round rookie playing in his third career game to play key contributions.

Where once, the Giants’ thoughts raced to breaking a three-year playoff drought, it seems this season is more destined to looking ahead to the 2021 NFL Draft and plugging holes along a defense in dire need of consistent playmakers and adding game-altering talent on offense.

Still, the Giants still have flickering postseason hopes, that largely rest on beating the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday and hoping the Washington Football Team falls to the Carolina Panthers.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us, and we have to get our eyes on Baltimore,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. “We aren’t completely out of this thing. That’s where my focus is.”

Before looking too far ahead Sunday’s game against the Ravens, or to the offseason, here’s a look back at the studs and duds from Sunday night’s loss:

DL Dexter Lawrence – STUD

One of the most consistently dominant Giants defensive players on the field Sunday night, with 13:07 remaining in the third quarter Lawrence bull-rushed into the Browns’ backfield and tossed Baker Mayfield to the ground like a rag doll for his fourth sack of the season.

Lawrence, chosen by the Giants with the No. 17 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, acquired by the Giants as part of the blockbuster Odell Beckham Jr. trade with the Cleveland Browns, continues to be a disruptive force along the interior of the defensive line. Sunday night, Lawrence was almost unblockable.