CLEVELAND – Eli Manning chucked his Gatorade cup to the ground in disgust on the sideline early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s nerve-wracking 27-13 win over the winless Cleveland Browns.
That should say everything about how unacceptably close the Giants (8-3) kept this eyesore at FirstEnergy Stadium due to a limited-at-best offense and poor execution persisting in their sixth straight win.
“When it comes to teams like this (0-12 Browns team), we’ve been on that side of the ball, and you can’t take a play off,” said Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants’ best player on its best unit week-in and week-out, their defense. “I feel like we came out and we were kind of sloppy all together. We played on their level. We’re gonna correct it, but us guys know: (linebacker) Kelvin Sheppard told us it wasn’t a great win and we’ve got to get better, which we do.”
Playing on their level? Good grief. It’s not like Pierre-Paul needed to say that, though. The Giants’ warts were on display for the national television audience to see. Ben McAdoo likes to “flush” games, well for Sunday’s he’ll need to call a plumber:
Nine penalties for 100 yards, a muffed Bobby Rainey punt to give points back in the second quarter; several Manning misses and miscommunications, including an overthrow on a sure Odell Beckham Jr. touchdown on the opening drive; inconsistent pass protection; no explosive running game; another Robbie Gould missed extra-point in the fourth quarter, a Mark Herzlich holding infraction that negated a Beckham punt return for a touchdown in the fourth, too.
Despite two touchdowns to Odell Beckham, Eli Manning and Giants offense struggle moving the chains.
(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The Giants escaped on the backs of stars such as Pierre-Paul (three sacks, fumble return for a touchdown, forced fumble), Beckham (six catches, 96 yards, two TDs) and Manning (15-of-27, 194 yards, 3 TDs with some timely throws. But the Dallas Cowboys (10-1) are two games ahead in the NFC East, the Giants’ remaining schedule is daunting, and they know this level of play won’t get it done.
“It was just tough,” Manning said of showing frustration early in the fourth. “It was tough to move the ball consistently. They had a good plan for us … It was one of those days where they’re giving us some of those shots down the field, and you’ve got to hit. We hit a couple of them, but we’ve got to hit more of those, find completions, run the ball consistently, move the ball better than we did today.”
Personnel shortcomings fall on GM Jerry Reese, but these recurring negative trends fall on McAdoo, the rookie head coach whose team has most of the same problems it exhibited at the start of the season. Primarily, the offense fizzles into “too many three-and-outs,” as Manning put it, “too many times when we’re not getting things going.”
It got so bad that on the Giants’ first drive of the third quarter, McAdoo ran the ball on 3rd-and-12 from his own 19-yard line. He said he was showing faith in his defense, not a lack of trust in his offense, with the call. He also said film study had shown an opportunity for Rashad Jennings to break a big play there.
Bobby Rainey muffs a punt as Giants show they have plenty of issues to still work out.
The message was clear, however: Against the worst team in the NFL, coming out of halftime, McAdoo knew the easiest way to lose this game was with his offense on the field. He wasn’t wrong, either.
“We have to get better,” McAdoo admitted. “We believe we’re gonna win the games, find a way to get the game in our favor at the end, but we need to get better as the season goes on.”
The early fourth quarter told the story: The Giants were clinging to a 14-6 lead over the worst team in football. Herzlich canceled out Beckham’s 60-yard punt return for a TD with his hold. Manning’s offense then meekly went 3-and-out starting at the 50.
“It got pretty tight, man,” defensive end Olivier Vernon said.
Giants depend on Jason Pierre-Paul and the defense to overcome their miscues.
(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jonathan Hankins hit Browns QB Josh McCown, creating Pierre-Paul’s 43-yard dash to the end zone, but Gould missed the extra point. 20-6. Cleveland then immediately narrowed the deficit to 20-13 on a quick drive downfield. Finally, Manning hit Beckham for 41 yards and against for a four-yard TD on a 6-play, 73-yard drive to put the game away.
“We needed that drive,” Manning said, as much for the offense’s psyche as the game’s result.
What they need – with Steelers, Cowboys, Lions, Eagles and Washington staring them in the face – is to start playing like a playoff team if they intend to be one. They’re the top NFC wild-card right now. But this isn’t close to good enough from Big Blue.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News