The Giants.com crew discusses final takeaways from Week 8 and what's ahead for the team:
John Schmeelk: The Giants are 2-6, but only a handful of plays separate them from being a .500 team right in the middle of the NFC playoff race. These are the plays the Giants often made last year but have failed to do so at critical times in close games in 2023. On Sunday against the Jets, the Giants had numerous opportunities to close the game in regulation and seal the victory.
On the Giants' final regulation drive, Saquon Barkley could have stayed up longer and gotten a first down on his first-down run. The team could have converted a third-and-three two plays later. Graham Gano could have made a 35-yard field goal. Once the Jets got the ball back, Kayvon Thibodeaux could have not gone offsides to stop the clock that gave the Jets the time necessary to complete their final pass and kick a field goal. The secondary could have prevented two long passes on the final drive of regulation and the deep throw to Malik Taylor in overtime.
The team followed the complementary football playbook for most of the game. They set themselves up to win until a series of mistakes late in the game turned a likely win into a loss. The same could be said for a number of plays throughout the Bills game in Week 6. It's the price of playing in so many close games. One or two plays late in the game can dictate a win or a loss, and the Giants have been on the wrong side of those plays in two of their last three games. That's why they are 2-6 instead of 4-4.
Dan Salomone: Sunday will be remembered for a while in New York, but Monday brought more news. First, Daniel Jones was cleared for contact, paving the way for the quarterback to return from a three-game absence due to a neck injury. Tyrod Taylor, meanwhile, spent Sunday night in the hospital for a rib cage injury but was discharged the following afternoon and returned to the team facility. Asked about the need to bring in another quarterback, Daboll said it is "definitely a possibility."
The head coach spoke before more news broke.
Ahead of Tuesday's NFL deadline, the Giants traded defensive lineman Leonard Williams, one of their team captains, to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a 2024 second-round draft choice and a 2025 fifth-round selection. They acquired Williams from the Jets exactly four years ago for third- and fifth-round draft choices.
View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.
Lance Medow: In life, timing is everything, and that phrase perfectly applies to the Giants' performance in Sunday's loss to the Jets. Overall, the defense put together its third straight solid outing, but with the game on the line, that unit had a few mishaps that proved costly, further highlighting my initial statement. Even with Graham Gano missing a 35-yard field goal that would have forced the Jets to score a touchdown to win in regulation, Zach Wilson and company still had to get into field goal range with only 24 seconds left, no timeouts, and starting field position at their own 25-yard line. Although Greg Zuerlein has a strong leg, you're still talking about the Jets needing to gain about 35 yards to have a reasonable chance.
In the span of only two plays, Wilson completed a pair of passes to Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard for a total of 58 yards. To put things in perspective, those were the longest receptions of the game for each of those receivers. That set up Zuerlein's game-tying 35-yard field goal as time expired in regulation. In overtime, after the Giants went three-and-out to start, the Jets took over at their own 39-yard line. They had only one third-down conversion the entire game up to that point. On third-and-10 from that spot, Wilson hooked up with Garrett Wilson for 11 yards for a first down, and then three plays later, on third-and-five from the Giants 45, Adoree' Jackson was called for pass interference on a ball 30 yards down the field. Jackson never looked back at the ball and made contact with Malik Taylor, preventing the latter from heading back toward the ball.
That set up Zuerlein's game-winning 33-yard field goal. The defense held the Jets to 13 points and, for the most part, kept Nathaniel Hackett's crew in check. But on the final two drives of the game, that same level of execution could not be found, returning to my point that timing is everything. If you don't finish down the stretch, an overall solid performance can easily be overshadowed.
Matt Citak: The nature of Sunday's loss will certainly overshadow any positives to come out of the game, and rightfully so. But the play of Kayvon Thibodeaux, Dexter Lawrence and the Giants' pass rush should be noted for their performance against the Jets. While the Jets were dealing with numerous injuries across their offensive line, especially on the interior, the Giants' pass rush was nothing short of dominant in Week 8.
It was an interesting week for Thibodeaux; just ask Carl Banks. The second-year outside linebacker put all of the outside noise to the side and had his best game of the season against the Jets. Thibodeaux was constantly in the backfield, finishing the game with a career-high three sacks to go with a forced fumble and nine total tackles, which tied Bobby Okereke for the most on the team. While his impact on the pass rush was obvious, the edge rusher also made a significant contribution in the run game. Four of Thibodeaux's tackles were against the run and led to either no gain or a loss of yards for the Jets. He now has 8.5 sacks through eight games, more than double his rookie season total (4.0). He is tied for third in the NFL in sacks and sits just 1.5 shy of Minnesota's Danielle Hunter for the league lead.
Then there is Dexter Lawrence, who essentially spent the entire game in the face of Jets quarterback Zach Wilson. According to Next Gen Stats, Lawrence rushed the passer 36 times Sunday. Of those 36 rushes, he generated a career-high 12 pressures, good for a 33.3 pressure rate, which included one sack. After a slow start to the season, at least compared to last year, Lawrence has kicked it into high gear in recent weeks. NGS had the defensive lineman down for 15 pressures in Weeks 1-6. Over the last two weeks alone, Lawrence has recorded 20 quarterback pressures to go with three sacks and nine quarterback hits. Between Lawrence and Thibodeaux, the two pass rushers have combined for an impressive 7.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits between Weeks 7 and 8. The two have sparked the pass rush, which has helped boost the entire defense with an average of 11.3 points allowed per game over the last three weeks.