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Giants Now: Rookie O-linemen show promise

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Three rookie o-linemen start a game in same season for first time since 2003

The Giants suffered a heartbreaking 25-23 loss against the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football in Week 8. However, there were some bright spots in the team's Week 8 performance.

Rookie fifth-round selection Shane Lemieux made his NFL starting debut in place of Will Hernandez, who was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list last week. Lemieux was the third rookie offensive lineman to start for the Giants this season. The Giants last had three rookie offensive linemen start at least one game in the same season in 2003, when David Diehl, Wayne Lucier and Jeff Roehl were the linemen.

Lemieux had a difficult matchup in his first NFL start as he faced off against former All-Pro lineman Ndamukong Suh. The rookie was able to hold his own against Suh and the Bucs' talented defensive line, as did his fellow rookie linemen.

Matt Peart was on the field for 24 offensive snaps in Week 8, including 14 pass blocking snaps. Peart allowed zero pressures on those snaps and earned a 79.0 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.

Andrew Thomas played all 74 offensive snaps at left tackle Monday night. Thomas allowed four pressures on 49 pass blocking snaps and received a 65.7 pass blocking grade from PFF, the highest pass blocking grade the rookie left tackle has earned this year.

As a unit, the offensive line paved the way for the Giants to rush for 101 yards on 24 carries, good for an average of 4.2 yards per carry.

Veteran guard Kevin Zeitler has also been playing some of his best football in recent weeks. Over the last three weeks, Zeitler has allowed just one total pressure. His performance has earned him a pass blocking grade of 77.0 from PFF over the last three games.

Other PFF takeaways from Monday Night Football vs. Bucs

* Leonard Williams put together a strong outing against the Buccaneers on Monday. Williams finished the game with four total tackles (one solo), 1.0 sack, one tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. He earned the highest grade of any Giants player in Week 8 with his 85.7 overall grade.

* Williams (80.3 grade), Dalvin Tomlinson (79.4 grade) and Dexter Lawrence (77.4 grade) all rank within the top 15 interior defensive linemen in overall grade on the season.

* Wide receivers Sterling Shepard (77.2 grade) and Golden Tate (74.8 grade) were the Giants' highest graded players on offense in Monday's game. Shepard caught a game-high eight passes for 74 yards, while Tate reeled in two passes for 31 yards and a touchdown.

* Rookie linebacker Carter Coughlin picked up the first sack of his NFL career against the Bucs in Week 8. While only seeing very limited action on defense so far this season, Coughlin has earned an 85.3 pass rushing grade on five pass rushing snaps.

* Through the season's first eight games, Blake Martinez ranks number one in the NFL with 38 STOPS. Tampa Bay's Lavonte David ranks second with 33. As PFF describes it, "A stop is a play where a defender makes a tackle, and the location of the tackle means the play is a successful one for the defense."

View photos from the Week 8 Monday night matchup between the Giants and Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium.

Goals clear for Coach Judge: "Close isn't good enough"

Joe Judge takes no solace in almost winning and has no illusions about what it will take for the Giants to begin earning victories.

For the fourth week in a row and the sixth time this season, the Giants last night played in a one-score game. They lost at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 25-23, in a contest essentially decided when the officials picked up a flag and declared no pass interference penalty had been committed on the Giants' potential game-tying two-point conversion attempt with 28 seconds remaining.

It was the fourth consecutive Giants' game and third straight loss decided by three points or less. They lost in Dallas, 37-34, on a last-play field goal and in Philadelphia, 22-21, after a late 11-point lead evaporated. The Giants did beat the Washington Football Team, 20-19, when WFT coach Ron Rivera opted after a late touchdown to try to win the game instead of taking his chances in overtime. The Giants stopped that two-point conversion attempt and held on for their only victory of the season.

But while close scores look better than blowouts, the standings reflect the Giants' reality. They are 1-7 and at the bottom of the division as they prepare for a rematch with Washington Sunday in FedExField.

On a Zoom call today, Judge laid out a path to improvement in the second half of the season.

"I think the first thing is you just have to eliminate the mistakes and give yourself a chance to win," Judge said. "We have to start doing things in that position, eliminating these mistakes, to reap the rewards of our hard work. But I see this team making a lot of progress. I see them being close, obviously, in a lot of situations. Close isn't good enough in this business. We have to keep pushing forward and get the results that we're working for. But it starts with eliminating those mistakes."

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