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Giants come up short in 26-25 loss to Rams

TYROD-TAYLOR

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Darius Slayton was absolutely convinced the Giants should have been celebrating an exciting victory instead of lamenting a painful 26-25 loss to the Los Angeles Rams Sunday in MetLife Stadium.

"I do think we should've won the game," the Giants' fifth-year wide receiver said. "But unfortunately, we didn't."

The list of reasons why they didn't is long, but it comes down to too many missed opportunities and too many penalties in the fourth quarter – a period, ironically, in which they outscored the visitors, 9-6.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was involved in many of the game's critical moments, agreed with Slayton that the Giants should have been winners, but…

"I don't think what should've or could've matters at the end of the day because we didn't," he said. "We did enough to put ourselves in a position to win but we also hurt ourselves in some areas as well, too. That's the reality of the game and we have to be better in those moments."

For the second time in seven days, the Giants lost a game decided in the final moments. Last week in Philadelphia, Taylor's pass into the end zone on the game's final play was intercepted and the Giants fell to the Eagles, 33-25.

Sunday, Taylor and Saquon Barkley couldn't connect on a go-ahead two-point conversion pass with 3:27 remaining, and Mason Crosby's 54-yard field goal with 30 seconds left was short and to the left.

"I felt like we were well inside the range there," Crosby said. "Just need to hit it on the right side of the uprights with how that wind was blowing, especially once you get out that far, it's going to move it a little bit more and I just kind of knocked it there at the end."

The game had plenty of action. The Rams scored on Kyren Williams touchdown runs of four, two, and 28 yards and Matthew Stafford's 5-yard pass to Cooper Kupp, the latter score coming after Taylor couldn't handle a fourth-down snap. William's second touchdown was set up by rookie Puka Nacua's 80-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter. Lucas Havrisik missed two of his extra point attempts.

The Giants set off fireworks of their own. Wan'Dale Robinson scored the Giants' first touchdown on a 24-yard jet sweep, the longest rushing score by a Giants wideout in 10 years.

In the third quarter, Taylor aired out a pass to Slayton, who got a step on defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon and caught the ball in stride for an 80-yard touchdown, the longest of his career.

"Tyrod must have threw his whole shoulder out to get it there," Slayton said. "He launched it at least 60-something yards, a bomb of a throw. Back-to-back weeks he's done that for me now (including a 69-yarder in Philly), so shoutout to him for that. But great ball by him and once I saw it in the sky, I went and ran it down."

The extra point was wide right, leaving the score at 20-16, but Crosby lifted the Giants to within a point with a 32-yard field goal. The Rams need only three plays to travel 75 yards, a series that ended with Williams' 28-yard score. But Havrisik misfired on the PAT and the Rams led 26-19.

On the Giants' next possession, Daniel Bellinger's holding penalty nullified a 47-yard completion to Jalin Hyatt. The Giants eventually gave up the ball on downs. The Giants were flagged for holding three times in the fourth quarter, negating 64 yards in gains.

But it seemed that might not matter with less than four minutes remaining, when Gunner Olszewski scored on one of the longest plays in Giants history, a 94-yard punt return on which he broke a tackle before sprinting up the right side of the field. Al Bloodgood's 95-yarder way back in 1928 is the only punt return the Giants have had longer than Olszewski's. This was the first game in their 99-year history in which the Giants had two touchdowns of at least 80 yards.

But the good feelings ended in an instant. Brian Daboll was prepared to have Crosby kick the tying extra point. But when the Rams' Jonah Williams was penalized for encroachment, moving the ball closer to the goal line, Daboll decided to try for two points. It should have worked, but Taylor's pass to Saquon Barkley, just a few feet away, was behind him and ended up on the ground.

"Just lack of execution and it started with me," Taylor said. "Saquon was open. Was kind of caught in between running it and throwing it and didn't do either one of them, but yeah, I got to be better. It's a routine throw, something I've hit plenty of times before but that moment I didn't execute."

"We kind of had a new version of a play that we scored on in the past for a 2-point play," Barkley said. "Just me and Ty didn't connect."

The Giants still had plenty of life and time. After Isaiah Simmons sacked Matthew Stafford for a 10-yard loss, the Rams punted, and the Giants took possession at their own 35-yardline with 1:08 remaining.

On the second play of the drive, Taylor scrambled for a 31-yard gain, putting the Giants within Crosby's field goal range at the Rams' 34-yard line. After a spike to stop the clock, Barkley lost two critical yards on a run up the middle.

Three times at his postgame news conference, Daboll said some version of, "I'd just like to have the play back."

"We called a draw play," Taylor said. "Thought we could get some extra yardage in that situation. Ultimately, they ran a stunt and were able to be better than us in that moment."

After an incomplete pass to Robinson, Crosby was summoned, but his field goal attempt never had a chance. The Giants fell to 5-11 and finish their season next week at home against the Eagles.

But this one loss will be difficult to forget.

"We didn't win," Barkley said. "That's how it is. Any time it's a one-score game or a close game, any team can feel like they should've won. But at the end of the day, only one team gets a W in the win column, and we didn't do that. We had opportunities, we had a chance to win, but we failed to as a team."

And that hurts.

View photos from the Giants' Week 17 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.

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