The Giants.com crew reacts to Sunday's loss as the team heads into a Thanksgiving matchup with the Cowboys:
John Schmeelk: Mama said there'd be games like this. Every team, no matter how good, has a game like the Giants did against the Lions at least once a season. The Giants came out and couldn't execute their normal formula for winning a football game. The running game didn't get going. Penalties in the first half cost them. Losing the turnover battle 3-0 is nearly a guarantee of defeat. It was a similar formula that led to the loss to Seattle, specifically the turnovers and struggles running the football.
The key is to make sure the performances in the games against the Seahawks and Lions do not snowball over the next four games, all of which take place in the division. The Giants still have a 1.5-game lead on Washington for the final wild card spot along with the Cowboys at 7-3. Washington is the team that has the best shot of spoiling the Giants' playoff hopes, which makes those two games on Dec. 4 and 18 especially critical. All three NFC East teams offer significant challenges on both sides of the ball, and the Giants will have to play a cleaner brand of football than they did against the Seahawks and Lions if they want to emerge from the next four games in a strong position to win the division or make the playoffs as a wild card team.
Dan Salomone: The Giants enter the teeth of their NFC East slate with a chance to become more than the feel-good story that made headlines in the first half of the season. While the injuries mounted on Sunday, the NFC East showed no signs of slowing down. The Giants' closest rivals all won, including Washington, which gives the division four teams with records above .500. The Giants face NFC East opponents in five of the last seven weeks, starting with their rematch against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
"I feel like throughout this first however many games we've learned a lot about who we are, and now it's time to bunker down and really get after it," safety Julian Love, a team captain, said. "This is a crucial stretch, not only because we're playing division games, but this is when football is important in general. That playoff mindset comes into play now in terms of how we approach each game. We got to treat it really as such because, yeah, we have division opponents but that November, December football is where teams are really tested and made."
Lance Medow: If there was one area the Giants had been consistently effective, it would be protecting the ball as they had just eight turnovers through their first nine games. That wasn't the case against the Lions as they turned the ball over a season-high three times with two interceptions and a lost fumble. To make matters worse, the Lions scored a pair of touchdowns off those mishaps, one of which put the ball at the New York 33-yard line and another at the 18. The turnovers shortened the field for Detroit, and the Lions capitalized. It's hard to stay competitive when you have three turnovers in a single game, but when you do that against one of the best offenses in the league that had scored 30+ points four times entering Sunday and is also very effective in the red zone, you're putting yourself in an impossible spot.
That brings me to another trend that took a drastic turn. Entering Week 11, the Giants' defense had proven it could bend but more often than not won't break when an opponent moves inside the 20-yard line. New York ranked second in the NFL in red zone defense (38%) but Detroit scored four touchdowns in five trips into that area. The previous week the Texans had six red zone opportunities but found the end zone once. However, the Giants had two takeaways to do damage control. When they can't rely on opportunistic plays to clean things up, it becomes a bit more challenging as was documented against the Lions.
Both of these facets are interconnected because when you turn the ball over on offense, you put the defense in a precarious spot in terms of adding more pressure to make stops and create takeaways. The Giants weren't able to lean on the run game, which has been a huge part of their identity, due to falling behind by multiple scores and Detroit's defensive effort. As a result, Daniel Jones attempted 44 passes. When you put the ball in the air that many times, you're giving the opposing defense opportunities to make plays and apply pressure on Jones. That's not a recipe for success for New York.
Matt Citak: Compounding the loss to the Lions was the injury list. Coach Brian Daboll confirmed Monday morning that wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL injury. Robinson was in the middle of his best game before going down with the injury. The rookie wide receiver had set new season-highs with his nine receptions for 100 yards on 13 targets. In only six games, Robinson was tied for the third-most receptions on the team (23) while his 227 receiving yards also ranked third.
The Giants will now have to look elsewhere on the roster for production from the passing game. For starters, Darius Slayton could be in for more games like he had on Sunday. With Daniel Jones attempting a season-high 44 passes, Slayton had 10 of them thrown in his direction, in which he caught five for 86 yards. Over the last four games, Slayton is averaging 76.3 yards per game and has had at least 58 yards in five of the last six. The 10 targets this week were easily his season-high, and with Robinson now out, Slayton could be seeing close to that number on a weekly basis moving forward.
But the Giants will need more than just Slayton to step up. Richie James (three receptions for 48 yards and a TD), Isaiah Hodgins (three catches for 29 yards) and Kenny Golladay (two catches for 29 yards) all saw playing time against the Lions and should get more of an opportunity now. Marcus Robinson and David Sills are also on the active roster and could get a chance to earn more snaps, along with Robert Foster, Kalil Pimpleton and Makai Polk on the practice squad.
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