*The Giants' offense struggled again as the team fell to the Lions, 24-10: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – On a night when the Giants honored their 2007 Super Bowl XLII championship team, the current squad matched that team's start by falling to 0-2.
Playing in MetLife Stadium for the first time this season, the Giants fell to the Detroit Lions, 24-10. The Giants have started a season with two losses for the fourth time in five years.
"We talk about playing complete, complementary football," coach Ben McAdoo said. "By no stretch of the imagination did we get that done tonight. We've got to do better. We dug ourselves into a hole. No one feels sorry for us. We've got to find a way to get better and get better in a hurry."
Perhaps this team can take solace in the fact that their start is remarkably similar to that of the titlists who played a decade ago. Both teams started with a loss in Dallas. Both came home to lose to an NFC North team (in 2007, it was Green Bay). And each faced another division road game in Week 3; 10 years ago in Washington, a goal-line stand clinched the Giants' first victory. On Sunday, McAdoo's team will be in Philadelphia.
But one significant difference exists between the two teams. The 2007 Giants struggled early on defense, allowing an NFL-high 80 points in the first two games. The present Giants are solid defensively, but haven't produced on offense. They have scored just 13 points, the league's third-lowest total and the Giants' lowest two-game start since 1947 (seven points). The Giants have not scored at least 20 points in eight consecutive games.
Not even the return of Odell Beckham, Jr. could ignite the offense. Beckham did not play against the Cowboys because of the sprained ankle he suffered last month in Cleveland. He didn't start against Detroit, and caught four passes for 36 yards. Beckham also had a crucial drop on a fourth down in the final quarter.
"We've got to score more," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Not going in the right direction enough, going backwards, not converting on third downs enough. Got down there close on the one-yard line and then get a penalty and get a delay of game at the end. So, just not executing enough on third downs in the green zone, some critical moments."
The penalty Manning referred to was one example of an offense that must reverse course. Trailing 17-7 with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter, McAdoo decided to try for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the two. But a delay of game infraction sent the Giants back five yards, and Aldrick Rosas came on to kick a 25-yard field goal.
McAdoo didn't soften the blow when asked about the penalty.
"Sloppy quarterback play," he said. "Quarterback and the center need to be on the same page there. We've got to get the ball snapped."
"Anytime there's fourth down right there, you know they've got to make a decision on what's going on," Manning said. "But we had plenty of time. I saw the clock, knew we were rushing. I've got to take a timeout there or get the ball snapped and let's go."
The penalty was one of many mistakes and shortcomings. A Manning pass to Evan Engram was intercepted by Tahir Whitehead immediately after Devon Kennard had recovered a fumble. The Lions' takeaway set up Matthew Stafford's second touchdown pass, a seven-yarder to Eric Ebron.
"Can't afford it," McAdoo said. "The ball was a little behind Evan. We've got to look at it and I've got to put it in front of him and give him a chance to run, or move on to my next progression."
The offensive line allowed five sacks and helped the backs generate just 62 rushing yards. Starting running back Paul Perkins ran for 10 yards on seven carries. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall had just one catch for the second week in a row.
Two key fourth-quarter sequences ended any chance the Giants had to win the game. Early in the quarter, Marshall dropped a pass that would have given the Giants a first down. Two plays later, Jamal Agnew returned Brad Wing's punt 88 yards for a touchdown as at least four Giants missed tackle opportunities.
"That was the moment," Marshall said. "That was the biggest play of the game. I let my team down, I got an opportunity to make a big play and change the momentum and I lost it."
Later in the quarter, the Giants faced a fourth-and-three at their own 48. Manning threw a pass to Shane Vereen, who was given the first down – until Detroit coach Jim Caldwell challenged the ruling. After review, the ball was moved back, the gain was reduced to two yards, and the Giants turned the ball over on downs.
"I was hoping he had the depth, the (defender) made a good play," Manning said. "They had a good call for the play. I thought it would be enough for the first and obviously the guy made a good tackle, and we weren't able to get it."
The Giants still had a chance to pull the game out when they got the ball at their own nine with 7:48 left. They moved to the Lions' 29, but Beckham couldn't secure Manning's pass, all but ending the game. "I dropped the ball," Beckham said.
Now the Giants will look to win their first game in Philadelphia.
"I just think we have to get it together," Beckham said. "Stay positive. Stay with each other and just get better each and every day. We are only going to go where we take it. So, it's up to us, it's in our hands."
"I've said from the beginning of the season, this is the most talented team we've had on paper," said Justin Pugh, who switched from left guard to right tackle when Bobby Hart aggravated his ankle injury. "But you can't go out there and just win on paper. We're not comparing teams in fantasy football. So, we've got to go out there and we've got to do it."
The sooner, the better.