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Instant Analysis: Giants fall to Rams, 26-25

FINAL-SCORE

AT A GLANCE

For the second consecutive game, the New York Giants brought a playoff contender down to the wire with takeaways and clutch touchdowns. But just like they did six days ago in Philadelphia, they came up just short in a 26-25 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the penultimate week of the regular season.

UP NEXT

The Giants (5-11) wrap up their 99th season with a visit from the Philadelphia Eagles (11-5), who won the first leg of the season series, 33-25, on Christmas Day. The Rams (9-7) play at San Francisco in the regular-season finale.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE

After he took over for Tommy DeVito at halftime of Monday's game against the Eagles, Tyrod Taylor got the starting nod at quarterback for Week 17. In his fourth start of the season, Taylor completed 27 of 41 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown with an interception late in the second quarter on a deep attempt to wide receiver Darius Slayton down the right sideline. Taylor was sacked six times.

Speaking of deep shots, Taylor and Slayton later connected on an 80-yard touchdown to bring the Giants within four points of the Rams with 4:39 left in the third quarter. It came less than a week after the duo brought the team back to life with a 69-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Eagles.

Wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, showing no signs of the quad injury that limited him in practice this week, took off for a 24-yard rushing touchdown on an end-around to tie the game 7-7 early in the second quarter. On the previous play, Taylor completed a third-and-six with an 18-yard completion to rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, who was not targeted last week and hadn't caught a pass since Week 14.

The Giants couldn't capitalize on a second-quarter takeaway and gave the ball right back to the Rams on downs following an aborted snap on fourth-and-one.

The Giants started the same five offensive linemen for six consecutive games, but right tackle Tyre Phillips momentarily left on the first drive with a knee injury. He was replaced by Matt Peart, who was activated off injured reserve the prior week. Evan Neal, the original starter at the position, was recently placed on injured reserve and will require surgery on his ankle "fairly soon," coach Brian Daboll said this week. Phillips returned on the following drive and played until he had to be carted off with a right knee injury with 13:37 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Saquon Barkley, who moved into fourth place on the Giants' all-time rushing list last week, ran 12 times for 39 yards on Sunday.

After Gunner Olszewski's punt return touchdown brought the Giants to within one point of the Rams with 3:27 remaining, Daboll put the offense back on the field for a two-point conversion attempt after Los Angeles was called for offsides on the extra point. Taylor, however, couldn't connect with Barkley as he tried to flip the ball to the running back heading toward the front-right pylon.

With another chance after the Giants forced a punt, Taylor scrambled 31 yards down to the Rams' 34 with under a minute to play to set up a 54-yard field goal attempt, which Mason Crosby missed. The Rams took over with 30 seconds on the clock.

Tight end Lawrence Cager (groin) was placed on injured reserve on Saturday.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE

Rookie cornerback Deonte Banks missed the first game of his career due to a shoulder injury that he suffered in Philadelphia. The first-round pick was limited Thursday and Friday and listed as questionable heading into the game.

Cornerback Nick McCloud made his second start of the season – and ninth in his two years with the Giants – in place of Banks on the outside.

Safety Jason Pinnock left in the first quarter with a foot injury.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford entered with a franchise-record streak of four consecutive games with multiple passing touchdowns and no interceptions. That ended Sunday when safety Dane Belton grabbed his third career interception – first of this season – midway through the second quarter.

Belton was by no means done there. He also recovered a fumble by Rams wide receiver Demarcus Robinson after cornerback Adoree' Jackson punched the ball away. The takeaway occurred on the very next play after Taylor threw an interception late in the first half.

Closing in on the NFL rookie record, wide receiver Puka Nacua broke an 80-yard catch-and-run on the Rams' first possession of the second half. It set up a two-yard touchdown run by Kyren Williams, the running back's second of three scores on the day, and gave Los Angeles a 10-point lead at the time.

After Slayton's long touchdown, Belton intercepted Stafford for the second time, giving the ball to the Giants in Rams territory late in the third quarter of a four-point game.

The Giants held the Rams to just two third-down conversions on eight attempts.

On Saturday, the Giants signed linebacker Darrian Beavers from the practice squad to the active roster. The sixth-round draft choice was competing for a starting job as a rookie in 2022 before tearing his ACL in a preseason game vs. Cincinnati. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game in the NFL.

View photos from the Giants' Week 17 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS

Including Mason Crosby's 52-yarder in his Giants debut last week, this is the first season in Giants history in which three different kickers have field goals of 50+ yards (Graham Gano and Randy Bullock were the others). Crosby was once again elevated from the practice squad for Sunday and made his first field goal attempt from 31 yards as time expired in the first half. It was originally a 45-yard attempt that was blocked by Ben Skowronek, who was penalized for illegally jumping over long snapper Casey Kreiter.

Crosby also made a 32-yarder but missed an extra point attempt wide right. That was before his 54-yard attempt, which would have put the Giants ahead by two with 30 seconds remaining, fell short.

Gunner Olszewski, a midseason addition, scored on a 94-yard punt return to cut the deficit to 26-25 with 3:27 left in the game.

IN-GAME INJURY REPORT

LAR: NT Bobby Brown III (knee)

NYG: T Tyre Phillips (knee), S Jason Pinnock (foot)

INACTIVES

LAR: CB Tre'Vius Tomlinson (hamstring), RB Zach Evans, OLB Ochaun Mathis, T Alaric Jackson (thigh), DE Earnest Brown

NYG: WR Parris Campbell, CB Deonte Banks (shoulder), S Gervarrius Owens, OLB Benton Whitley, C Sean Harlow, WR Dennis Houston, DT Timmy Horne

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