EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Here's the thing about an NFL tie. The immediate emotion for both teams is disappointment because they didn't win the game. And the long-term implications are yet to be determined.
The Giants and Washington Commanders played a 20-20 tie Sunday in MetLife Stadium. Each team punted twice in overtime before Graham Gano's 58-yard field goal attempt on the final play was well short. Washington had tied the game with 1:45 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 28-yard pass from Taylor Heinicke to rookie Jahan Dotson.
Winless in their last three games, the Giants fell to 7-4-1. They host the 11-1 Philadelphia Eagles next week. Washington's winning streaks of three games overall and four games on the road ended and the Commanders are 7-5-1.
So, what does the tie mean for the Giants' postseason hopes?
"We'll figure it out," coach Brian Daboll said. "There's a long way to go. It's better than if it was a loss; not as good as if it was a win."
The players seemed uncertain what a tie exactly means for them, but they were all unhappy they couldn't celebrate a victory.
"I think we're all pretty disappointed with the result," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "Certainly not the one we were looking for. … It's not a loss, it's not a win, either. I think you understand that part of it but just disappointed that we could've played better, could've taken advantage of some situations and won the game. That's the disappointing part."
"I'm really speechless on this tie," said defensive end Jihad Ward. "I don't know what a tie is. That's just my mentality. I want to win; that's just my mentality. We did what we had to do, and we just got to work on our mistakes and keep going, worry about next week's game.
"It's kind of weird. Some people never really had any ties. But me, Jihad Ward, I'm treating it like (a loss). That's my mentality. I want to win. So, we just need to look forward. Onto the next. It is what it is. It's football. It's November, December football."
Gano kicked for the 2014 Carolina Panthers, which played a 37-37 Week 6 tie at Cincinnati and won the NFC South … with a 7-8-1 record, a half-game ahead of New Orleans.
"Actually, the tie put us into the playoffs at the end of the season," Gano said. "So, still not ideal tying a game. Still frustrating. But at the end of the day, you never know what's going to happen down the line. You just got to take it week-by-week."
View photos from the Giants' Week 13 game against the Washington Commanders at MetLife Stadium.
Before Sunday, the Giants' most recent tie was also vs. Washington, a quarter century ago. On Nov. 23, 1997, the teams played to 7-7 deadlock in Maryland. That Giants team won the NFC East title with a 10-5-1 record. The Giants' only other tie since regular-season overtime began in 1974 was on Oct. 24, 1983, when the Giants and Cardinals finished 20-20 in St. Louis. The Giants' most recent tie at home was in their final game in Yankee Stadium, 23-23 against the Eagles on Sept. 23, 1973.
What bothered the Giants just as much if not more than the final score was giving up a late lead, a failure to generate more offense and an inability to capitalize on their opportunities.
They started poorly, as Jones lost a fumble on the game's fourth play and the Giants fell behind 10-0 after one quarter as Joey Slye kicked a 21-yard field goal and Terry McLaurin caught a 19-yard touchdown pass, aided by Fabian Moreau's missed tackle at the 15-yard line.
But the Giants rallied in the second quarter. Gano's 48-yard field goal and Saquon Barkley's 13-yard touchdown run tied the score for the first time. At halftime, the teams were knotted at 13-13.
Azeez Ojulari's sack and forced fumble and recovery on the third play of the second half led to Jones' six-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Hodgins, his first career score. Neither team scored again until Heinicke hit Dotson on a crossing pattern and the receiver escaped an attempted tackle by Nick McCloud on his way to the end zone.
The Giants had eight offensive possessions after Hodgins' touchdown. Six of them ended in punts, a seventh when time expired at the end of the fourth quarter and the last on Gano's final attempt.
"I hit a good ball," Gano said. "We were hoping to get down to where it was a 53-yarder. That's why Washington picked the other direction (in overtime) – because the ball was going just further that way (toward the Giants' locker room). It was into the wind where we were at. You can look at kickoffs: They were going deep into the end zone in the other direction and landing at the 5 (in our direction). In those situations, at the end of the game, you have to kick it, whether our line was 53 yards or if it's 58 (yards), you have to give it a shot. I just tried to hit a good ball, which I did. I hit it straight. Just didn't have the distance."
The larger issue is why did the Giants total 10 yards in their first six possessions after taking the lead?
"They were executing better than we were," Daboll said. "They had better play calls than we had."
The Giants hurt themselves at times. A 12-yard Jones pass to Darius Slayton would have given them a first down at the Commanders' 35-yard line. But center Jon Feliciano was penalized for taunting, which moved the ball back to the 50. The Giants soon punted.
"He was flexing," Daboll said of the Feliciano penalty. "He was going up to Slayton and saying, 'Hey, good job. Strong run.' But it was close. It was (near) all those players. So, how the guy looks at it and interprets it, I don't think he can hear what Jon is saying to Slayton. They ended up calling it, which was obviously – we shouldn't even be in that situation. We get the ball there; it's going to be a first down. We're at the 35. Probably (would have) make it a two-score game. Those are things we can't even make it close."
After Washington tied the game late in the fourth quarter, Jones threw deep down the field to Slayton, who leaped and got his hands on the ball but couldn't hold it. After two more incompletions, the Giants again punted.
"I saw we had a chance to make it, and we didn't make it," Daboll said. "I saw him (Slayton) jump and it hit his hands. He was coming down, and (it) bounced out of his hands. It's a football play. Bounced out of his hands. We had a levels play there called, and coverage kind of broke. We had a chance on it; we just didn't connect on it."
The Giants received the overtime kickoff and punted. On their second possession in the extra period, they had a third-and-three at the Washington 45 and needed to make a play to get into field goal range. But Barkley and Richie James collided in the backfield and the play was officially a sack of Jones for zero yards. The Giants took a delay of game penalty and … punted.
"There was a miscommunication there," Daboll said. "So, that put us at fourth-and-3. That was a play that we need to do better."
The Giants had their final opportunity when they got the ball back at their own 43 with 28 seconds remaining. But they couldn't get close enough to give Gano a chance to make his field goal attempt.
Five games remain in the season. It might take that long to figure out what this tie means to the Giants and their playoff aspirations.
"I don't know," Jones said. "I haven't really thought about that or looked at how that's going to affect us. We're taking it one week at a time. We got to clean up this film and look to improve and get ready to play our best ball next week. That's what we're focused on."