EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – On Sunday afternoon, the Giants received a gift from the Seattle Seahawks. Several hours later, they gave it back.
Given a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the NFC East when Seattle defeated the Washington Football Team, the Giants generated little offense in a 20-6 loss Sunday night to the Cleveland Browns in MetLife Stadium. The Giants lost their second consecutive game – both at home – and fell to 5-9. That ties them with the Dallas Cowboys for second place in the division, one game behind Washington, a team the Giants defeated twice.
UP NEXT: The Giants travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens in their final road game of the season. The Ravens lead the regular-season series, 3-2, and defeated the Giants 20 years ago in Super Bowl XXXV. The Giants haven't won in Baltimore since Sept. 15, 1963, when they defeated the Colts, 37-28. Of course, they've since played there just twice, losing to the Ravens in 2004 and 2012. The teams last met on Dec. Oct. 16, 2016, when Eli Manning threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham, Jr. with 1:24 remaining to give the Giants a 27-23 victory. In their most recent meeting in Baltimore, on Dec. 23, 2012, the Giants lost, 33-14, as the Ravens gained 533 yards (309 passing, 224 on the ground), and owned the ball for more than 39 minutes. The teams met in the preseason every year from 1996-2007 and again in 2010. The Ravens lead that series, 7-5.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE:
The offense struggled to gain its footing with Colt McCoy at quarterback.
The Giants scored six points one week after a 26-7 loss to Arizona. The 13 combined points is their lowest total in consecutive games since Sept. 10-18, 2018, when they totaled 13 (losing 19-3 at Dallas and 24-10 to Detroit). It is their lowest point total over two home games since Oct. 31-Nov. 14, 1976, when they scored 12 points in a 10-0 loss to Philadelphia and a 12-9 victory against Washington. The 13 points is their lowest total in home games played in consecutive weeks since they were shut out in back-to-back games by Pittsburgh (27-0) and Philadelphia on Oct. 24-31, 1976.
The Giants did not score a touchdown for the third time this season. They kicked three field goals for all their points vs. San Francisco in 36-9 loss on Sept. 27 and a 17-9 defeat the following week to the Rams in Los Angeles.
McCoy completed 19 of 31 passes for 221 yards and did not throw an interception. Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram tied for the team lead with four receptions apiece.
As they did when McCoy led the team to victory in Seattle two weeks ago, the Giants hoped to move the ball on the ground. But they ran for only 74 yards on 21 carries, a 3.5-yard average. Alfred Morris led the Giants with 39 yards on seven carries.
View photos from the Week 15 matchup between the Giants and Browns in primetime at MetLife Stadium.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE:
The Giants really missed James Bradberry, the stellar cornerback who missed the game after being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list last week. Cleveland's receivers continually found holes in the Giants' secondary, which enabled the Browns to extend several offensive series.
Baker Mayfield completed 84.4% of his passes (27 of 32) for 297 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 126.2. He was sacked just once.
Jarvis Landry had a game-high seven receptions for 61 yards, including a two-yard touchdown.
The Giants had difficulty getting the Browns' offense off the field. Cleveland converted nine of 13 third-down opportunities (69.2%).
The Browns scored touchdowns to cap 95-yard drives in both the second and third quarters, the first on a two-yard pass from Baker Mayfield to Jarvis Landry, the second on Nick Chubb's one-yard run. They were the longest drives against the Giants since the Minnesota Vikings' 98-yard touchdown drive on Oct. 6, 2019. The previous longest drive vs. the Giants this season was a 92-yarder by San Francisco on Sept. 27.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS:
Dion Lewis returned the opening kickoff 48 yards to the Cleveland 48-yard line, his longest return since he scored a touchdown on a 103-yard runback for New England at Denver on Nov. 12, 2017. Lewis' previous long return this season was a 44-yarder vs. Tampa Bay on Nov. 2. The 48-yard return was the Giants' longest since Cody Latimer's 50-yarder vs. Dallas on Nov. 4, 2019.
After Lewis' impressive return, the Giants moved the ball to the Browns' eight-yard line. But Joe Judge eschewed an almost certain field goal and the Giants ran one of the season's most unusual plays. With linemen and kicker Graham Gano splitting side, punter/holder Riley Dixon took Casey Kreiter's snap and threw a pass that sailed over the head of his intended receiver…center Nick Gates, who was covered in the end zone.
Graham Gano scored the Giants' only points on field goals of 37 yards in the first quarter and 39 yards in the fourth. That extended his streak to 27 consecutive successful field goal attempts, one shy of his career high and two less than Josh Brown's franchise record.
NYG: None reported.
CLE: Right guard Chris Hubbard, who started in place of the injured Wyatt Teller, left the game with a knee injury suffered on Cleveland's first offensive series. Hubbard was replaced by rookie Nick Harris, who is listed on the Browns' depth chart as the backup center. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson left the game for good in the third quarter with a neck injury.
NYG: The Giants' inactive players were quarterback Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle), cornerback Darnay Holmes (knee), wide receiver Dante Pettis, linebacker TJ Brunson, offensive linemen Kyle Murphy and Jackson Barton and defensive lineman RJ McIntosh.
CLE: The Browns' inactive players included two starters in right guard Wyatt Teller and free safety Andrew Sendejo plus wide receiver Marvin Hall, cornerback Robert Jackson, linebacker Mack Wilson and defensive end Joe Jackson.
NYG: Quarterback Colt McCoy started for the second time in three weeks in place of Daniel Jones, who missed the game with hamstring and ankle injuries. McCoy led the Giants to a victory against the NFC West-leading Seahawks in Seattle on Dec. 6. Julian Love made his first career start at left cornerback for James Bradberry, who was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday because he was deemed to be a high-risk close contact of an individual who has tested positive. Love's previous nine career starts – four this season – had been at safety. Bradberry entered Week 15 tied for the NFL lead with 17 passes defensed. This was just the fifth game Bradberry missed in his five-year career. As a rookie with Carolina in 2016, he was inactive for three games with a foot injury. He was also inactive with a groin injury when the Panthers played in Green Bay on Nov. 10, 2019.
CLE: Chris Hubbard started at right guard for Wyatt Teller, who was inactive with an ankle injury. Sheldrick Redwine started at safety for Andrew Sendejo, who was inactive with a concussion.