LANDOVER, Md. — The Giants’ holiday spirit was gone in a virtually silent postgame locker room on Thanksgiving night. Almost no one was speaking when the doors opened so that the wounds could be re-opened on a 20-10 loss to Washington at FedEx Field.
A few players shuffled out of the shower slowly wearing scowls while others dressed quietly at their stalls, many heads down. This is what constant losing does to a team. It beats people down.
“It definitely does,” Eli Manning said as the Giants slipped to 2-9. “It’s no fun losing. It’s no fun not scoring enough points offensively. So yeah, it can wear you out, it can test you, but we’ve got to keep going to the drawing board to find ways to play better and move the ball and score some points.”
If only it were that easy. On prime-time national television Thursday evening, Ben McAdoo’s offense was unconscionably lifeless and inept. Janoris Jenkins even returned an interception 53 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to tie the game at 10 apiece, but it didn’t matter because the offense had nothing to offer.
Manning’s offense managed 170 total yards, averaging 3.1 yards per play, including 84 yards rushing and 86 yards passing. The 170 yards were the fewest yards gained by the Giants in a game since they gained 150 yards in a Week 3 loss in 2013 to the Carolina Panthers, per ESPN Stats and Info. And Washington’s defense frankly isn’t that good.
“It’s frustrating,” running back Orleans Darkwa said. “We’ve got to figure out how to get the offense going. We’ve got to get some points on the board. Can’t expect the defense to do it for us all the time. Just gotta get it going. We’ll get it right.”
But will they? Can they? The Giants haven’t scored more than 24 points in 16 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL, which will date back more than a full calendar year by their next game to Nov. 27, 2016, last season’s 27-13 Week 12 win in Cleveland.
They haven’t scored 30 points in any of McAdoo’s 28 games as head coach, including playoffs, in which he has a 13-15 overall record.
Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense were dreadful on Thanksgiving.
(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Losing to Washington (5-6) on Thursday was tough because last Sunday’s win over Kansas City had given the Giants four days of hope. It was also embarrassing because Jay Gruden’s team was one big blooper reel.
Washington linebacker Pete Robertson ran an early downed punt into the end zone for a touchback. Wideout Josh Doctson had a chance to move the chains on a third down and simply stepped out a yard short.
And in the fourth quarter, Washington planned to punt, called a timeout to go for it on 4th-and-1, and then put the wrong personnel on the field and committed a delay of game penalty. Quarterback Kirk Cousins actually tried to call a second consecutive timeout, which is illegal.
And yet even as Washington’s fans lustily booed the home team after that seemingly catastrophic delay of game error, the Giants’ offense was worse. There was actually a stretch of six drives from late in the second quarter to late in the fourth in which the Giants gained 13 total yards in 20 plays.
There were plenty of culprits.
Rookie tight end Evan Engram, who was coming off a tougher than usual individual outing in Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, dropped three passes in Thursday’s loss.
“I just gotta be better. There’s no excuses for it,” Engram said. “I’ve just got to make some plays. I’ve got to be better.”
Janoris Jenkins had an interception that tied the game up in the third quarter, but he got beat in the fourth quarter.
The offensive line didn’t hold up, either.
Rookie right tackle Chad Wheeler, making his second career NFL start, was beaten for two sacks by Ryan Kerrigan after a strong debut on Sunday in Kansas City.
He was playing next to right guard Jon Halapio, making his first career NFL start, and the bloom came off the rose for left tackle Ereck Flowers in a big way in the second half, too.
Manning was under constant duress late.
“He’s a good player,” Wheeler said of Kerrigan. “He worked my edge and he was the better man tonight … We’ve just got to wipe the last play off the table and understand the moment, that’s all that counts.”
Manning missed throws, too, the biggest being a dump-off for Shane Vereen that looked headed for a touchdown. Manning lofted the pass too high and Vereen couldn’t adjust and the Giants had to settle for a field goal, their only offensive points of the evening.
“It’s a throw and a catch we have to have,” McAdoo said. “It should’ve been a touchdown.”
Jamison Crowder had a big day for Washington, including a 15-yard touchdown catch.
(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
“Yeah,” Manning said. “I gotta hit Shane on that.”
Then there was the absence of Sterling Shepard, out a second straight game with migraines.
Washington’s slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, dominated with seven catches for 141 yards and a touchdown, while Shepard, the Giants’ version of Crowder, was not at Manning’s disposal at all after testing himself out early Thursday.
“Thought he was gonna give it a shot today, kind of went through a drill this morning and was in there and then I got word he wasn’t gonna go,” Manning said. “So we’ve got to make sure he’s healthy. Dealing with anything with the head is scary, but we definitely miss him.”
Think of this, though. The Giants are averaging 15.63 points per game. Manning did not seem to appreciate a question of whether he had ever thought that were possible for this Giants season.
“Uh, no, I didn’t think that,” Manning said. Why not?
“Well we’ve lost a lot of players. We’re missing our three starting receivers for a lot of the season,” Manning said of Odell Beckham Jr., Shepard and Brandon Marshall. “We’ve got some new guys in doing some good things, we’re missing some linemen, so we’re missing some key players on offense, and it’s tough to catch up and make up and make some of those plays with the playmakers that we lost.”
No one is coming to rescue the Giants, and that seemed to hit them all Thursday night. Five more games of this.