Three Giants.com writers break down Sunday’s 31-26 loss to the Detroit Lions:
John Schmeelk: I will let Dan and Lance dissect the many issues, especially on defense, that led to the loss in Detroit against the Lions. The Giants offense wasn’t good enough either, but it did gain 370 yards despite Saquon Barkley being held in check for 64 yards on 19 carries. Daniel Jones threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns on 28 of 41 passing. Jones was credited for only one turnover, which was costly and led to a Lions touchdown.
Heading into the game, the Lions had a tendency to play a lot of man defense without a lot of blitzes. According to Pro Football Focus, the Lions played man more than 50% of the time on Sunday, and Jones excelled against it. He completed 10 of 15 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown against Cover 1, and did an excellent job of identifying a matchup he thought he could take advantage of on each play. He trusted his receivers to make plays and they did. With the Lions missing their top cover cornerback in Darius Slay, and later their top safety, Tracy Walker, the Giants found backups Rashaan Melvin and Mike Ford in important situations to make big plays.
The Lions blitzed on nine of Jones’ 51 dropbacks. The 17.6% blitz rate was slightly higher than their season average, but nothing out of the ordinary. Jones fared well against the blitz, going 4 of 7 for 47 yards, a touchdown, and two sacks. When he was pressured, Jones still managed to complete passes, finishing 6 of 13 for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Jones has been better all year against man defense, so it will be a good test to see how he plays against more of a Cover-3 scheme in the Cowboys next week. Dallas also has a crop of accomplished pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, Michael Bennett and Maliek Collins.
Dan Salomone: The Giants got off the field on third down, but not in the way they wanted. Three of Matthew Stafford’s four touchdown passes came on third downs of 15, seven and two yards to go. This was a week after the Cardinals methodically marched down the field with an opening-drive touchdown to put the Giants in an early hole.
Over the course of their four-game losing streak, the Giants have allowed 26 conversions on 53 third down attempts. The conversion rate of 49.1 is nearly 10 percent higher than the NFL average (39.3) for the season. Earlier in the week, defensive coordinator James Bettcher referred to it as a “cycle” that they needed to break. Unfortunately for the Giants, the track kept repeating in Detroit.
Lance Medow: In each of the last four games, the Giants have fallen behind by double digits in the first half. In Week 5 against the Vikings, they faced an early 10-0 deficit; in Week 6 at New England, the Patriots jumped out to a 14-0 lead; last week against the Cardinals, the hole was 17-0; and, unfortunately, that theme continued in Detroit as the Lions built a 14-0 cushion. Slow starts have been a troubling trend for the Giants and playing catch-up is never a reliable game plan when it comes to consistently winning games in the NFL because of the amount of energy you exhaust having to ignite a comeback. To the Giants’ credit, they fought their way back in every game. They pulled within three of Minnesota, erased a 14-point deficit against the Patriots, pulled within three of Arizona and within one of Detroit but notice New York never took the lead in any of those contests.
In Sunday’s loss to the Lions, the Giants were forced to punt on their very first possession and despite the fact that they picked off Matthew Stafford to halt Detroit’s first drive, they weren’t able to capitalize. Instead, the turnover bug struck again as former Giants linebacker Devon Kennard returned a Daniel Jones’ fumble for a touchdown. In the blink of any eye, the Giants were down 7-0 and after the Giants went three and out, the Lions then responded with a six-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in another touchdown. In the Cardinals and Patriots games, turnovers and short drives that resulted in punts also contributed to the early deficits. During their current four-game losing streak, the Giants are being outscored 38-0 in the first quarter and those four opponents have also scored 38 points off nine takeaways. Keep in mind, that doesn’t include the Minnesota safety and New England returning a blocked punt for a touchdown because they don’t count as turnovers.