AT A GLANCE: The New York Giants took the lead on their first drive of Sunday’s game and didn’t lose it until 55 seconds remaining in a 28-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. After winning four of five games after the break, the Giants have dropped their last two and fell to 5-10 on the season.
UP NEXT: The Giants wrap up their 2018 season with a visit from the Dallas Cowboys, who clinched their second NFC East title in three years. Dallas took the first leg of the season series with a 20-13 win at AT&T Stadium in Week 2.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE:
*The Giants scored a touchdown on their first possession for the fifth time this season. It came on a one-yard run by Saquon Barkley, the rookie Pro Bowler’s 10th rushing touchdown (tied Bill Pashchal’s franchise rookie record set in 1943) and 14th overall (extended franchise rookie record). It capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive that included a 17-yard catch by Sterling Shepard on third down and a 12-yard run by tight end Evan Engram to set up a first-and-goal.
*Shepard filled the void left by fellow wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was ruled out for the third consecutive game due to a quad injury. Shepard had 90 yards in the first quarter, the most by a Giant in the first 15 minutes of a game since Beckham had 98 vs. Tennessee in 2014. Plaxico Burress has the franchise record with 107 vs. St. Louis in 2005. Hakeem Nicks is second with 105 vs. Dallas in '11. Fifty-five of Shepard’s yards came on one catch on the second drive, which culminated in the first career touchdown for fourth-year tight end Scott Simonson and a 14-0 lead for the Giants. Shepard finished with six catches for 113 yards.
*Eli Manning, playing at Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLVI, completed 25 of 33 passes for 309 yards, a touchdown and an interception by safety Malik Hooker with 23 seconds remaining after Indianapolis took its first lead of the game with under a minute left. Manning also had a score on the ground on a one-yard keeper to give the Giants a 24-14 lead with 3:42 left in the third quarter. It was his seventh career rushing touchdown.
*The Giants played without center Spencer Pulley (calf), starting John Greco in his place. Undrafted rookie center Evan Brown was active for just the second time this season.
*Barkley was held to under 100 scrimmage yards for the second week in a row, and just the third time this season. He carried the ball 21 times for 43 yards and added five catches for 34 yards.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE:
*A week after allowing over 100 yards rushing after missed tackles, according to defensive coordinator James Bettcher, the Giants played without both of their defensive co-captains and leading tackles on Sunday. Safety Landon Collins, who was recently voted to his third consecutive Pro Bowl, has been on injured reserve for three weeks. Linebacker Alec Ogletree missed the game with a concussion.
*Since Week 7, which kicked off a 7-1 run for the Colts after they started the season 1-5, Indianapolis was averaging 126.5 rushing yards per game. The Giants allowed 49 yards on 16 carries.
*After the Giants forced three-and-outs on the Colts’ first two possessions, safety Curtis Riley intercepted Andrew Luck in the end zone on the third. The fourth-year safety now has a career-high four interceptions. The Giants have 12 interceptions in the last seven games after having three in the first eight. They have lost their last 10 games in which they did not force a turnover.
*The defense limited the big plays until T.Y. Hilton had a 55-yard reception midway through the third quarter. It set up Dontrelle Inman’s two-yard touchdown catch from Luck to cut the Colts’ deficit to three points.
*The Colts came into Week 16 with the best third-down conversion percentage in the NFL at 48.4. They were 7-for-11 (63.6 percent) on Sunday. Indianapolis was also 4-for-4 in the red zone.
*Undrafted rookie Tae Davis started in Ogletree’s place and led the team in tackles, including a sack of Luck in the fourth quarter. The Colts had allowed 16 sacks entering Week 16, tied with the Saints for the fewest in the NFL. Davis was later penalized for passing interference on the Colts’ game-winning drive, as was cornerback B.W. Webb. The two penalties led to a one-yard touchdown pass from Luck to Chester Rogers, giving the Colts their first lead of the game.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS:
*Named to his first Pro Bowl this week, kicker Aldrick Rosas made both his field goal attempts from 40 and 27 yards. Rosas, who entered Sunday one-tenth of a percent behind San Francisco’s Robbie Gould for the best rate in the NFL, has missed just one of his 31 field goal attempts this season.
INJURY REPORT: NYG – DE Mario Edwards (calf), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion). IND – C Ryan Kelly (neck), TE Eric Ebron (concussion).
INACTIVES: NYG – WR Odell Beckham Jr. (quad), C Spencer Pulley (calf), LB Alec Ogletree (concussion), WR Russell Shepard (ankle), DL Kerry Wynn (thumb), QB Kyle Lauletta, S Kamrin Moore. IND – S Clayton Geathers (knee), WR Daurice Fountain, RB Jonathan Williams, S Rolan Milligan, LB Anthony Walker (shoulder), C Josh Andrews, G Mark Glowinski (ankle).
LINEUP CHANGES: NYG – John Greco for Pulley at C, Bennie Fowler for Beckham at WR, Tae Davis for Ogletree at $LB. IND – Joe Haeg for Glowinski at RG, Ahmad Thomas for Walker at MLB, Mike Mitchell for Geathers at SS.