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Cover 4

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Cover 4: Takeaways from Giants vs. Saints


The crew reacts to Sunday's 24-6 loss to the Saints, which ended a three-game winning streak:

John Schmeelk: This Giants' loss on Sunday can be summarized by some very simple stats.

Saints: Seven sacks, 90 rushing yards from their running backs

Giants: One sack, 24 rushing yards from their running backs

The Saints won up front on both sides of the ball, and when that happens, it is hard to win a football game. The Giants were unable to protect their quarterback or get their traditional run game going, and the Saints were able to do both.

The Giants allowed pressure on 36 percent of their passing snaps, while the Saints were at a league-best 15.6 percent in Week 15, according to Pro Football Focus. The Saints' run game was not explosive, but it balanced their offense. The Giants played mostly zone defense through the first three quarters, and their lack of pass pressure allowed Derek Carr to work the ball down the field. The Giants did blitz on 59 percent of their pass snaps (second-highest in the league this week) but failed to sustain any consistent pressure with those rushes. The Saints' defensive line created some opportunities for rushers to come free in the middle of the defense. They were also able to prevent Tommy DeVito from escaping in the face of that pressure.

It gets no easier next week when the Giants have to deal with the Eagles' front on both sides of the ball, some of the best groups in the NFL.

Dan Salomone: Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale admittedly cleaned up his word choice before answering a question last week. He was asked about putting a finger on why the Giants were taking the ball away at such a high rate as of late. "If I could do that," he responded, "we'd have a crap ton of them … every year."

The same thing can be said for every game.

For all the accolades Tommy DeVito rightfully received, the Giants likely wouldn't have won three consecutive games without forcing 12 turnovers during that run. The streak ended on Sunday. The Giants were unable to get the ball away from Derek Carr and company as the quarterback turned in his highest passer rating (134.8) since 2018, when he was with the Raiders.

"Defensively we [had] been talking all week about embracing the challenge, and really if we want to put our team in position to win, it's got to be on us," linebacker Bobby Okereke said after the game. "Executing, creating turnovers, really just getting that momentum swinging coming out in the second half. And having them go down and drive and score, that's not what we need. We've just got to do better from that standpoint."

Okereke added, "History tells if we get turnovers, we'll win the game."

View photos from the Giants' Week 15 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

Lance Medow: Last week, my major takeaway from the win over the Packers was the Giants' ability to avoid negative plays. Tommy DeVito wasn't sacked, and the team faced only one third down of 10 yards or more, so it's no coincidence the offense produced 24 points and orchestrated a pair of lengthy touchdown drives. Move the calendar forward a few days and the Giants failed to score a touchdown for the fourth time this season.

The Giants had nine possessions against the Saints and were plagued by at least one negative play on eight of them. A sack, penalty or loss of yardage on the ground was a recurring theme. On the lone drive they avoided those circumstances, they ended up with a field goal. A big reason they posted a second field goal was thanks to an unnecessary roughness penalty against New Orleans that helped overcome an intentional grounding call against DeVito. Most offenses can't survive seven sacks, but the Giants aren't built to play behind the chains at that rate, especially when you don't have balance with the rushing attach. Both DeVito and Tyrod Taylor combined for 45 drop-backs, and even if you didn't watch one play from the game, based on that stat, you would know it's not a recipe for victory.

Matt Citak: While the negative plays and lack of takeaways certainly hurt, the team's performance on third down, both on offense and defense, contributed significantly to the team's struggles in New Orleans. Let's start on offense, where the Giants had one of their worst outings converting on third downs. Faced with 16 third down situations against the Saints, the offense was able to convert for a first down on just two attempts, or 12.5 percent. The Saints came into this game with the league's ninth-best third down defense, allowing a first down on 36.9 percent of attempts. Of the team's 16 attempts on Sunday, the Giants faced a third-and-long situation (seven yards or more) on 12 of them. Less than a week after not taking a single sack against the Packers, Tommy DeVito was sacked seven times by the Saints, which led to the offense playing behind the chains for most of the game. For a team that has struggled to put points on the board for most of the season, this is not a recipe for success.

Moving over to the other side of the ball, this matchup on paper seemed like an advantage in the Giants' favor. The Saints' offense was converting on just 37.5 percent of their third downs, the 19th-best mark in the NFL, heading into Week 15. New Orleans converted on six of their 12 third down attempts, with half of them coming on a third-and-short situation (five yards or less). After a quick three-and-out on their first drive of the game, the Saints converted both third-down attempts on their second drive, including one that went for a touchdown, which set the tone for the remainder of the game. While the defense did hold the Saints to under 300 yards of total offense, the unit could not force any takeaways, snapping their streak of multiple takeaways in four consecutive games. After playing well on third down throughout the team's three-game winning streak, the Giants' struggles in key situations Sunday led to their ninth loss of the season.


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