The Giants lost to the 49ers, 31-21, Sunday afternoon in Week 10 action:
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Surrounded by a cluster of reporters, a look disgust on his face, Landon Collins stood at his locker in Levi's Stadium Sunday evening and fielded a question to which he could give no good answer: "How are you feeling right now?"
"Hurt, discouraged, upset," Collins said.
Give the man points for honesty. Because really, how can anyone on the Giants harbor anything but those or very similar emotions?
On Sunday, they lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 31-21, a defeat that dropped the Giants to 1-8 for the first time since 1980. The Giants were confident of rebounding after last week's poor performance in a 34-point loss to the Los Angeles Rams. But after taking an early lead, they were dominated by a team that entered the game with a 0-9 record. It was the Giants' first loss to an opponent with such a dismal record since Nov. 20, 1966 against Atlanta.
"There were only a few things that you could smile at, but you're hurting inside," cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. "That's two weeks in a row. I'm embarrassed for us."
"Losing to a 0-9 team, you can't get much worse than that," said offensive lineman Justin Pugh, who missed the second half after aggravating his back injury. "We're at where we're at. (We have to) figure out where we're going from here, because we've still got seven games left."
The first of those will be next week at home against the 6-3 Kansas City Chiefs, who lead the AFC West and will be well-rested after their bye week. The Giants will then have a short week before playing Thanksgiving night in Washington. They will then return to the Bay Area to face the Oakland Raiders.
But as this game demonstrated, it matters little who the opposition is. If the Giants don't improve in all phases, they will struggle against everyone.
"We're not a good team right now," said linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas. "Hopefully, we can go ahead and turn around to be competitive and compete. It's sad that I'm sitting here talking about us competing in games instead of talking about winning, but that's the truth. We got to be able to compete, hang around until the end and pull out a victory at the end. It ain't no domination on our Giants side, that ain't going to happen. Baby steps, for sure. And like I said before, you got to look at yourself in the mirror and see what you can do better personally and add that to the team."
"It doesn't matter if they're 0-9 or 9-0, a team is a team," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "You know how it is, every given Sunday, but it shouldn't be that big of a lead. It should be a dogfight."
The game Sunday was, for a little while. The Giants twice owned the lead, first at 6-3 after Aldrick Rosas' second field goal. Then the sort of calamities that have plagued the Giants all season struck again.
Early in the second quarter, Curtis Grant recovered a fumble at the San Francisco 46-yard line. But they couldn't capitalize. Three plays later from the 22, Ronald Blair III sacked Eli Manning and forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Eric Reid. On third-and-eight from the 17, Marquise Goodwin got behind Janoris Jenkins, caught C.J. Beathard's bomb at the Giants' 35 and sprinted to the end zone for an 83-yard touchdown, the longest allowed by the Giants in more than seven years.
"I've got to hold onto it," Manning said of his fourth lost fumble of the season. "I've got to do a better job feeling that and keep two hands on the ball. I was about to throw and only had one hand on it, but I've got to get a knee down and hold onto it as long as I can."
The Giants responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Manning's nine-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Evan Engram, his fifth score of the season, with 2:08 remaining in the second quarter.
But the Giants couldn't hold lhe 13-10 lead until halftime. On the 49ers' next possession, tight end Garrett Celek eluded Casillas, caught Beathard's pass and sidestepped Jenkins' tackle attempt, and scored on a 47-yard touchdown. It was the Niners who led at the break, 17-13.
After a scoreless third quarter – Rosas missed a field goal attempt for the fourth consecutive game – San Francisco broke it open early in the fourth on touchdown runs by Beathard (11 yards) and rookie running back Matt Breida (33), which made it 31-13. The Giants merely closed the gap with Manning's late 14-yard touchdown pass to Roger Lewis, Jr., and Orleans Darkwa's two-point conversion.
After the lopsided loss to the Rams last week, coach Ben McAdoo remained upbeat, even saying, "You may think I am a little out there…I believe to the core we have a run in us."
But McAdoo could find nothing positive to say after the Niners gained 474 yards and scored four touchdowns - with a rookie quarterback making his fourth start.
"Tough ballgame for me to take," McAdoo said. "We knew we were going to face a hungry, young team today. We had some fight in us and it got away from us in the end. It's important for us to realize and I talked to the team about it, that every play and every game and every phase is so important in each and every game, and it got away from us today. We need to go take a long, hard look at the tape, at the game. Make sure we get everything corrected and be honest with each other, but give the Niners credit. They outplayed us today, they outcoached me today."
The players began this season with high hopes and never thought they'd be even close to 1-8. All they can do is continue to grind.
"It's tough losing," Manning said. "You work hard every week to go out there and to execute well, to make plays to put your team in position to win and it's not happening … It's disappointing. We're obviously in this situation, we're the reason we're in it. So we've just got to keep working and compete every week and expect to win next week."