EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants on Sunday failed to honor the anniversary of one of the great offensive performances in the history of their storied franchise.
On Oct. 28, 1962, they hosted the Washington Redskins in Yankee Stadium. Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle threw for 505 yards and completed 27 passes, including seven for touchdowns – an NFL record he still shares - in a 49-34 victory.
Exactly 56 years later, the Giants again hosted Washington. But the current Giants couldn't duplicate their high-scoring predecessors. Indeed, these Giants have had trouble putting points on the board all season. They managed only one touchdown – and that with 17 seconds remaining – and lost to their NFC East rivals, 20-13. It was the fifth time in eight games the Giants scored fewer than 20 points. They have totaled 43 points in their last three games.
"Special teams, defense, I thought battled and contributed in a way that, pretty much a winning effort," coach Pat Shurmur said. "On offense, we've got to score more points. Until we unlock that, until we get down there and score touchdowns, then it's going to be tough sledding, so that's where it is. You can't score 13 points in any game at any level and expect to win them. We've got to unlock that, we've got to get that better. Whatever it is, we've got to get that figured out. We've got to put the ball in the end zone more often."
Because they've been unable to do that, the Giants fell to 1-7 while losing their fifth consecutive game. They have their bye next week before resuming play Monday night, Nov. 12, in San Francisco.
First-place Washington improved to 5-2.
Though not Tittle-like, Eli Manning posted impressive numbers. He completed 30 of 47 passes for 316 yards, the second game in a row and third time in four games he exceeded 300 yards.
But Manning could not overcome the problems that have plagued the offense almost all season. The offensive line could neither open holes for Saquon Barkley (the Giants rushed for only 37 yards), nor protect Manning (who was sacked seven times, the highest total allowed by the Giants since Oct. 12, 2014). Third downs? The Giants converted only two of 14 opportunities (14%). They also came up short in the red zone, scoring a touchdown and two field goals on four trips; that's 13 of a potential 28 points (assuming no two-point conversion). The Giants totaled three points on their first 10 possessions and 10 on their final two.
"They have a good front," Manning said. "They were getting some pressure at times. We have to extend plays and stay in the pocket. Get the ball out on time. We had a good plan, did some good things but didn't execute as well as we needed to." He soon added, "Obviously, we didn't do great on third down. … We just got into some third and long situations and we just didn't do a very good job on third down all day. It was just hard to get into a good rhythm early on. "
Two plays perhaps best illustrated the Giants' offensive frustration.
Trailing 7-0, the Giants moved from their own 30 to the Washington 12-yard line midway through the second quarter, where they faced a second-and-11. But Manning's pass for Odell Beckham, Jr. was intercepted by D.J. Swearinger (who later picked off another Manning throw).
"Just missed him," Manning said. "Thought Odell was going to be able to run by him and the guy passed him off better than I thought. I thought he might run with the corner route. He came off right away and drove on it. I thought Odell was going to go get by him. Bad decision by me."
"That throw, they jumped it," Shurmur said. "They did a good job of covering that particular route, so he just needs to move on."
Despite their struggles offensively, the Giants trailed by just a single score at 10-3, when Landon Collins forced a fumble by Adrian Peterson that was recovered by Olivier Vernon, who returned it 43 yards to the Washington 39 with 43 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Four plays later, Shurmur decided to go for it on fourth-and-three. The Giants should have had the first down, but Manning's pass went right through Evan Engram's hands. Washington soon extended its lead to 13-3 on Dustin Hopkins' second field goal, a 39-yarder. He also kicked one from 53 yards.
"I thought they played zone and they did, we had an opportunity to convert and we didn't," Shurmur said. "That's where my disappointment lies, and I'll just leave it at that. I thought we had what we were looking for, we've just got to execute it."
"(We) got what we wanted; got the zone," Engram said. "Just gotta make that play.
"It was right there, I just gotta come down with it. No excuse."
Adrian Peterson scored Washington's two touchdowns, on a seven-yard reception in the first quarter and a 64-yard run the fourth.
Those alone were enough to win the game. Because they made too few plays, the Giants' scoring consisted of Aldrick Rosas field goals of 37 and 21 yards, and Engram's two-yard touchdown reception in the final half-minute. Washington recovered the onside kick, ending any hope of a miracle finish.
So the big question heading into the bye week is, why can't the Giants score more points?
"I don't have an answer for that," said Beckham, who caught eight passes for 136 yards. "It doesn't make sense. I feel like we should be doing better and we're not. This is where we're at, when we get down in the red zone we have to score.'
"Definitely frustrating," Barkley said. "We love our kicker to death, but we have to find a way to put six points on the board more times that we did in the game. That's something, during this little stretch that we haven't been able to do. It's something we have to start doing."
They have a week off and half a season to figure out how to score more points and win some games.
"I'm going to look at everything as we move forward," Shurmur said. "…we just have to keep playing until we get it back on track. Once that happens, then we can move forward and it'll be good. We just got to keep playing. We all watched the game, there's areas we need to improve and we've got to try and find ways to make those improvements with the guys we had."