The Giants fell to the Browns, 20-6, on Sunday Night Football. Here's a review and some of the advanced statistics from the game (numbers are courtesy of Pro Football Focus).
* The Giants were able to move the ball successfully on their first three drives of the game, running at least seven plays on each drive and gaining 146 yards. They reached the red zone on all three drives and got inside the 10 twice, but failed to score a touchdown on any of them. They scored only three points on these possessions due to a failed fourth-and-1 run and an incompletion on a fake field goal. The creative fake field goal formation failed to generate any obviously open player, and the earlier run failed because of backside penetration by Karl Joseph.
* The Giants were successful on those early drives because they were able to run the ball, use play-action effectively, and make some chunk plays down the field in the passing game. Colt McCoy did a nice job identifying where he could take shots down the field with no safety help, and completed a 35-yard pass to Darius Slayton, and a 22 yard back-shoulder throw to Sterling Shepard.
Here are the two throws to Slayton and Shepard
* Even though those two passes went downfield, McCoy got the ball out of his hands quickly. Only four quarterbacks had a quicker average time to throw than McCoy's 2.66 seconds. It helped the offensive line, which held the Browns to only a 37% pressure rate, which was the 14th-highest in Week 15. The Browns only blitzed five times all night.
* Giants drives failed when they could not overcome negative plays on early downs. They had to settle for a field goal on their second drive after a pass that lost a yard on first down. Their first drive in the third quarter failed when a run lost three yards on a second-and-9. Their first fourth-quarter drive failed after a holding call on first-and-10. There were pass plays that could have made up for those negative plays, but they were not executed well enough by the team to be successful and overcome them.
* The Giants only had three drives in the first half, not including a kneel down at the end of the second quarter. They only had four second-half drives, including a four-play drive with only 1:20 remaining when the game was already decided. The Giants had no three-and-outs, but they only had two drives go for more than 42 yards or last longer than 3:30 of game time.
* Defensively, the Giants had trouble getting off the field. The Browns did not go three-and-out the entire game, and scored touchdowns on drives of 75, 95, and 95 yards over their first five possessions. The Browns were 9-of-13 on third downs, with their only failures coming on distances of 22, 21, 3, and 8 yards when the Browns were content to run the ball and punt it at the end of the game. They converted very reasonable third downs of 3, 1, 2, 1, 4, 7, 1, and 10 and 9 yards.
* The Giants were unable to generate a consistent pass rush, which allowed for Baker Mayfield to wait for longer developing routes down the field between the Giants' zone defense. Baker Mayfield was only pressured on five of his 35 dropbacks, which was the lowest rate in the league in Week 15. Dexter Lawrence had a sack on a powerful rip move, a quarterback hit and one quarterback hurry. Leonard Williams managed three hurries.
Here is Dexter Lawrence's sack against rookie center Nick Harris, who was forced into action at guard:
* The Giants were missing two of their starting cornerbacks in James Bradberry and Darnay Holmes, which also forced them to use their safeties in slightly different roles. Julian Love, their primary deep free safety, was the team's starting outside cornerback opposite Isaac Yiadom.
* The Giants had the 12th-highest blitz rate in Week 15, but Baker Mayfield was very adept at getting rid of the ball quickly in those situations. According to Next Gen Stats, Mayfield was 14-of-16 for 130 yards with two touchdowns against the blitz.
* The Giants defended the run very well against the third-best rushing attack in football. It took the Browns 30 carries to gain 106 yards, thanks to strong play against the run by Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence and Blake Martinez.
Here are two good plays against the run by Leonard Williams:
Dexter Lawrence also had a couple of strong plays against the run and a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage on fourth down.
Blake Martinez also made several strong plays in the run game. Here are two: