Turning over the ball isn't the only way a team can hurt itself. The Giants, who were actually plus-1 in that department on Monday night against Washington, instead set themselves back with a barrage of yellow flags, especially down the stretch.
The Giants were uncharacteristically called for nine penalties in the primetime game against the Redskins. Six were on the offense alone, while the other three came on special teams – two on kick returns and one on a punt return.
Entering the week, the Giants had just 48 offensive penalties, or 4.4 per game, which were second fewest in the NFL behind Atlanta.
"Penalties, sloppy football, it seemed like every time we had a special teams play we had a penalty," Tom Coughlin said after the 17-16 loss. "Every time we had a kickoff return, we had a penalty, so we started inside the 10. You saw the last series offensively: we make a first down, and it seemed like a late call but it was a holding call to move the ball back and ruin that drive. So just very disappointing that our second half wasn't better."
The penalties were a major reason why the Giants began four of their eight drives at or inside their own 10-yard line (and never better than the 24). The Giants were able to counteract the penalties in the first half as they strung together long drives, dominating the time of possession roughly 20-10.
But the second half was a different story. The Giants scored just three points after intermission while their final two drives were for minus-1 and 17 yards, both of which resulted in punts.
"There were some good things out there – ran the ball well, I thought we threw the ball pretty well," said quarterback Eli Manning. "Just the fourth quarter, we had the two drives there at the end, unsuccessful, and that's the game."