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Inside the Numbers: Giants make close games a staple of their season

INSIDE-THE-NUMBERS

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – We don't know if the Giants will defeat the Washington Football Team Sunday for their second victory of the season, but it's reasonable to assume we won't know the winner until the fourth quarter – or later.

But that result shouldn't require a recount.

The Giants have made close games a staple of their season. Only one of their first eight games was decided by more than 10 points (a 36-9 loss to San Francisco) and just two had a double-digit margin (including a 26-16 loss to Pittsburgh on opening night). Their other six games were all one-possession affairs in which the trailing team had a chance to win or tie late in the fourth quarter. That is tied with Cincinnati, Carolina and the Los Angeles Chargers for the NFL's second-highest total, behind Chicago (seven).

The trend has been pronounced in the last four games – a victory against Washington and losses to Dallas, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay - in which the margins of victory were three, one, one and two points. It is the first time in their history the Giants have played four consecutive games that were decided by a total of seven or fewer points.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last NFL team to play four games decided by a total of seven or fewer points was the 1990 Denver Broncos, who, in a four-week span, played three one-point games and one three-pointer.

The Giants join the Chargers and Tennessee Titans as the only teams to play four games in which the final margin was three or fewer points.

In the Giants' last three games, four total points separated the teams. The most recent of those contests was the Giants' 25-23 loss Monday night to Tampa Bay. It's the first time the Giants have played three straight games that were decided by a total of four or fewer points since Sept. 23-Oct. 7, 1973 (a 23-23 tie with Philadelphia and two-point losses to Cleveland and Green Bay).

The most recent NFL team to have such a small three-game margin was the 2013 Dallas Cowboys, who were coached by current Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. In its last three games, that Dallas team had a one-point victory and one and two-point losses.

The Giants' last three losses - to the Cowboys, Eagles and Buccaneers – have been by a total of six points. They had not suffered three consecutive defeats by such a small combined margin since Nov. 17-Dec. 1, 1974, when they fell, symmetrically, by one, two and three points to Dallas, St. Louis and Chicago 

The 2013 Detroit Lions were the last NFL team to lose three straight games by a total of no more than six points. Those Lions lost their final three games by two, three and one point – the second of those three contests was a 23-20 overtime loss to the Giants in Ford Field.

View photos from the Week 8 Monday night matchup between the Giants and Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium.

*Daniel Jones can improve his record as a starting quarterback against Washington to 4-0 when the teams meet Sunday in FedExField. The last Giants quarterback with such a successful four-game start against an NFC East opponent was Kent Graham, who was 4-0 against Philadelphia in 1998-99.

*In each of their last three games, the Giants rushed for more than 100 yards while holding their opponents under 100. That last happened from Nov. 14-27, 2016, in victories against Cincinnati, Chicago and Cleveland.

*The Giants reached midseason with 20 sacks. If they maintain that pace, they will finish with their highest sack total since 2014, when they had 47. Jason Pierre-Paul led that team with 12.5.

*The NFC East has been widely criticized this season, no surprise when the four teams have a combined record of 8-22-1. Not one team in the division is over .500. One culprit is turnovers. The combined four-team turnover differential is minus-24. Washington is the best of the group…at minus-one. Dallas has a league-worst differential at minus-11, Philadelphia is tied for second at minus-seven and the Giants are at minus-five. The four division teams have 36 takeaways against 60 giveaways, an unsightly ratio of minus-24.

*Each of the Giants' next two opponents – Washington and Philadelphia - will be coming off their bye. Since 1990, the Giants are 12-10 when their opponents are coming off a bye and they are not.

*Not only will Washington have had a two-week break, the Giants must travel after playing on Monday night. The Giants are 32-36 in games following a Monday night game, including 13-15 since 2000.

*The Giants' last two defeats to Tampa Bay – on Oct. 1, 2017 and Monday night, were by the same 25-23 score. They are the only 25-23 results in the 1,394-game history of the Giants (including postseason play).

*The Giants had their highest yardage and first down totals of the season against the Buccaneers.

Their 357 yards topped the 325 yards they gained in their previous game, in Philadelphia. The Giants finished with less than 300 yards in each of their first four games but have topped the 300-yard mark in three of their last four.

*The Giants' 24 first downs vs. Tampa Bay topped their previous season best of 22, set at Chicago on Sept. 22.

*The Buccaneers were held to two field goals in the first half, the first time since Dec. 9, 2019 in Philadelphia they did not allow a touchdown in the first two quarters.

*Sterling Shepard's game-high eight receptions on Monday increased his career total to 269. That moved him past Mark Bavaro (266) and into 13th place on the Giants' career list.

*Shepard increased his career yardage total to 3,071. He is the 21st player to exceed 3,000 receiving yards in a Giants uniform.

*The Giants were today awarded wide receiver Dante Pettis off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers, who released him yesterday.

The team has received a roster exemption from the NFL while Pettis is in the six-day Covid-19 protocol. He will likely be formally added to the roster on Monday or Tuesday.

Pettis played in 28 games with 12 starts in three seasons with the 49ers. His career totals are 38 receptions for 576 yards and seven touchdowns.

This season, Pettis played in five games with a start in the season opener against Arizona. He played eight snaps on offense and five on special teams against the Giants two weeks later. Pettis did not have a reception this season.

Pettis joined the 49ers as a 2018 second-round draft choice, from the University of Washington.

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