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Cover 3: What we learned from Giants vs. Falcons


The crew reacts to the team's 17-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3.

John Schmeelk: After another heartbreaking final-second loss there are two things that jump out about how and why the Giants are 0-3. The first is obvious. Analysts often decry how a team is failing to play above the Xs and Os, but that's not the Giants problem. They are failing to make plays that players are expected to make. In consecutive weeks, drops by Darius Slayton and Adoree' Jackson came on opportunities both players said they expect to succeed on. If those fairly basic catches are made, the Giants are probably 2-1 right now.

The second issue is harder to see, and has to do with some of the hidden yardage gained/lost/left out there on the field in any given week. This hidden yardage can be found in penalty yards, a lack of execution that results in extra yards given up or yards not gained on offense. The Giants have committed 19 penalties for 134 in their last two games after finishing 2020 as one of the least penalized teams in the league.

It might not be hidden yardage, but the team is also failing to capitalize on their success. The Giants are moving the ball and putting together long drives before ill-timed poor plays are forcing them to settle for field goals. They are not scoring enough points.

It is hard to argue the Giants are less talented team this year than they were in 2020. They might have lost some games last year because their opponents were more talented but they always seemed to do the little things right, and consistently won on the margins. Those small victories would add up over the course of a game and help turn some games that could have been defeats into victories. It isn't happening this year.

Dan Salomone: On the day Eli Manning had his jersey retired and in a year when the Giants are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the 2011 championship team, the team did not do what is engraved on the inside of the franchise's most recent Super Bowl ring: FINISH. They gave up a touchdown and turned over the ball inside the 2-minute warning in the first half, and allowed 10 points in the final four minutes of the second half. Of course, that included the game-winning field goal at the last second to cap a final drive that was set up after a touchback on a punt from midfield.

"We've got to make sure we execute at the time in terms of how it comes up," coach Joe Judge said. "Obviously, the punt from the 50, we're looking to pin those guys back, put them on a long field for that final drive. That was a big part of what we were doing. Obviously, at that point we're looking to play to our defense and (had) confidence in how they had been playing throughout the game and things they were doing. Our punting game has been pretty good in the plus-50 zone. (Defensive Back) Keion (Crossen) made a big-time play earlier in the day for us. We looked to play for it right there, but in terms of offense, defense, kicking game, we all have to obviously execute when the number is called."

Lance Medow: The ending to Sunday's game against the Falcons was a bit of déjà vu all over again. Like Washington in Week 2, Atlanta managed to move the ball down the field to set up a game-winning field goal as time expired. Washington went 11 plays, 50 yards in two minutes while it took just 1:50 for the Falcons to gain 58 yards on seven plays. When you lose two straight games in the same fashion by a combined four points, it's easy to point to several areas. But there are two items, in particular, worth highlighting: red zone inefficiency and penalties. They have come to bite the Giants because they either leave points off the board or allow the opposition to continue drives.

New York went 1-for-3 in the red zone on Sunday and negative plays cost them a shot at four additional points before each of their two field goals. On the Giants' first possession of the game, they advanced to the Atlanta 8 … and there was a sack. Later in the half, there was a mishandled snap from the Atlanta 17. The Giants are now 3-of-9 inside the red zone over the first three weeks.

The Giants have piled up 19 penalties over the past two games and their timing has been brutal. One of Atlanta's touchdown drives was aided by an unnecessary roughness penalty. Later, the Giants had a 20-yard pass play called back by a lineman being too far downfield. Last year, the Giants committed 81 penalties (tied for fifth-fewest in the NFL) and had no games with double digit mishaps. This season, they already have 23 in three games (tied for third in the league). It's challenging alone to stay competitive in games. It's virtually impossible to win those contests when you're constantly hurting your own cause.

Check out the best photos from Eli Manning's jersey retirement and Ring of Honor induction ceremony at MetLife Stadium.

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