For the second straight week the Giants lost on a last-second field goal and are still winless in 2017:
TAMPA – NFL players and coaches try to adhere to a 24-hour rule. Once any game ends, whether it's an exhilarating victory or a discouraging defeat, they take one day to reflect on it before focusing on the next opponent.
That will be difficult this week for the Giants, who endured their second crushing loss in as many weeks Sunday in Raymond James Stadium. Nick Folk's 34-yard field goal as time expired sent them to a 25-23 loss, just as rookie Jake Elliott's final-play 61-yarder last week in Philadelphia left them on the wrong end of a 27-24 score.
"We feel like (crap)," said linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas. "Everybody does. It's going to feel like this for a while. People always say 24-hour rule; it might be a little longer than that. It's just 0-4, no one ever predicted us to do anything like that. It's going to be really hard to swallow this one. I feel like we had it in the bag. Last week I feel like we had it in the bag. We just got to keep playing and understand that we still got a long way to go."
Those feelings were prevalent in all corners of the Giants' cramped locker room. Almost everyone is stunned they've descended from an 11-5 playoff team to a squad that is 0-4, the Giants' worst start since 2013. And they can't fathom how they owned fourth-quarter leads in each of the last two games, only to fall victim to their own mistakes and their opponents' kicker.
"Nobody expected it, but we got nobody but ourselves to blame," defensive tackle Damon Harrison said. "Our defense in particular. Our game could have ended 17-16. Once we get the lead, it's our job to keep the lead and extend the lead if possible. So, it's all on our shoulders."
"I am not surprised," coach Ben McAdoo said. "I am not shocked. You can't carry things from one year to the next. We talked about that in the offseason. You got to be hungry, you got to be willing to work. We need to get back to work as a staff and get back to work as a team. Find a way to improve."
This game was simultaneously vastly different and very similar to the loss in Philadelphia. The Giants had zero accepted penalties, one week after they had 10. The Giants' time of possession was 34:13, or almost 12 minutes more than they owned the ball against the Eagles. Eli Manning scored on the longest rushing touchdown (!) of his career, a 14-yarder. One week after throwing three touchdown passes, he tossed two, to rookie running back Wayne Gallman and tight end Rhett Ellison while throwing for 288 yards.
But the parallels to last week are what cost the Giants. A poor punt. The defense surrendering a critical completion on the game-winning drive. The offense not putting more points on the board when the opportunities were there. And Sunday brought something new, Aldrick Rosas' first career missed field goal attempt that was a huge miscue in a two-point game.
It was all on display in the fourth quarter, which began with the Giants leading, 17-16. On the second play of the quarter, Rosas pushed a 43-yard field goal try wide right.
The Giants came up with a big fourth-down stop on Tampa Bay's next possession, but soon faced a fourth-and-three. Brad Wing then booted a punt that traveled only 15 yards, giving the Bucs the ball on their own 43. Last week, Wing's 28-yard punt set the Eagles up with great field position for their game-winning field goal.
The Giants got burned again as Tampa Bay needed only four plays to score, on Jameis Winston's 14-yard pass to tight end Cameron Brate. After the two-point conversion failed, the Bucs led, 22-17. Winston had accounted for most of those points, throwing first-quarter scoring passes of six yards to Mike Evans and 58 yards to rookie O.J. Howard, who had no Giants defender within 15 yards of him.
After Brate's touchdown, the Giants drove 75 yards in 10 plays, the last a two-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Rhett Ellison. But the two-point conversion attempt was incomplete, because Odell Beckham, Jr. had stepped out of bounds and did not re-establish himself on the field of play before catching the ball.
'It's tough to lose two games in a row on field goals, on walk-off field goals," Manning said. "That's a tough situation to have a lead and feel like you're doing some good things, feel like you have a good drive to take the lead. But obviously having a two-point conversion and get it reversed, (that's a) tough situation right there."
But the Giants still led, 23-22. One stop and the game was theirs. With 1:30 remaining, the Buccaneers faced a third-and-one from the Giants' 39-yard line. Brate got a step on Landon Collins, and Winston dropped in a perfect pass for a 26-yard completion. In Philadelphia, the big completion was a 19-yarder to Alshon Jeffrey immediately prior to Elliott's game-winner.
"I played hard inside, tried to force him out," Collins said. "I feel like my right foot got stuck and he just got a step on me. I tried to make a play after that and chase him down and tried to get the ball out. He just got a good play."
Winston twice took a knee before Folk trotted out to try to kick the game-winner. It was far from a guarantee, considering he had missed an extra point and field goal attempts of 46 and 49 yards. But his biggest kick was good, leaving the Bucs at 2-1 and the Giants pondering how to stop this slide. They face another 0-4 team, the Los Angeles Chargers, next week.
"It's very tough," Collins said. "That's one where we as the defense have to step up and make a play. We didn't get it, unfortunately, but at the same time to lose on a field goal, it's tough. It's tough because you fight your butt off to hold them to where we held them and they marched it downfield. They got into field goal range and made their play. It's definitely tough.
"It's hard to go ahead and say, 'Hey guys, keep playing, we're going to get one.' Once we dropped the first four, it's putting us in a real tough spot to do anything. You have to be able to take a step back and look at ourselves in the mirror, and see what we're doing wrong. See what we can do better. See our weaknesses and be able to strengthen our weaknesses. And whatever our strengths are, keep playing to that. And hopefully, we can get a win this week."