The Giants went into Sunday hoping to once again take down an undefeated New England Patriots team. What resulted instead was another agonizing defeat in a season full of them.
For the ninth time this season, the Giants held a lead in the fourth quarter, but were unable to close out the defending Super Bowl champions. Eli Manning threw for two more touchdown passes, giving him 20 on the season – the 10th time he's reached that mark. Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady orchestrated a 12-play, 44-yard drive that set up a game-winning Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
"Extremely disappointing loss. Not much for me to say about it other than the frustration was—I mean, finish the game," Coach Coughlin said. "Just get the game over with. We had the ball in the end zone that's knocked out of the hands. We have to kick a field goal, which makes you right away worried because they have an outstanding kicker who might kick it from 58 to 60 yards, he's done that before."
IT WAS OVER WHEN
Patriots' kicker Stephen Gostkowski made a 54-yard field goal with one second remaining. The Giants' defense twice had opportunities to halt New England's final drive. On the first play, Brady, under pressure, underthrew wide receiver Aaron Dobson. Safety Landon Collins appeared to make the game-winning interception, but could not hold onto the ball as he hit the ground. Three plays later, New England faced a fourth-and-10 from their own 20. Brady hit wide receiver Danny Amendola over the middle for a 12-yard gain and a Patriots first down, which kept the drive alive and ultimately led to Gostkowski's game-winner.
Gostkowski certainly gets a game ball, as does his counterpart, Giants kicker Josh Brown, who with four made field goals extended his career high and Giants record streak to 27 consecutive made attempts. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley played his second consecutive standout game at middle linebacker. The six-year vet led the defense with 12 total tackles, and his fourth quarter sack on Brady forced a fumble which Markus Kuhn then recovered.
"With the competitive group of guys we have here on defense, that's always something we want to do," Brinkley said. "We want to get turnovers and force them."
Quarterback Eli Manning completed 24 of 44 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Manning now has 21 touchdown passes to just six interceptions this season.
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE GIANTS
It will be a long bye week for Coach Coughlin and the Giants. But with Philadelphia (4-5) losing to Miami and Dallas (2-7) dropping its seventh straight game, the Giants remain atop the NFC East through Week 10. Washington (4-5) is right on the Giants heels as well, but they visit undefeated Carolina this Sunday before hosting Big Blue in two weeks.
"I'm very disappointed, upset, whatever the words might be," Coach Coughlin said. "Guys practiced hard, they worked hard, they wanted it badly, they prepared well, and they battled out on the field."
Added Manning: "We've just got to be able to hold onto a lead and so you can always look back and see were there opportunities lost and where you could have been the difference in making the play, but you never know how that's going to turn out."
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE PATRIOTS
New England remains a perfect 9-0 this season, one of just three unbeaten in the NFL (Carolina, Cincinnati also). The Patriots have a four-game lead in the AFC East and host the Buffalo Bills next Monday night.
The win did not come without its costly losses, however. Leading wide receiver Julian Edelman broke a bone in his left foot during the first quarter and left the game. Edelman will undergo surgery, although he could still return later this season. Last week, the Patriots lost running back Dion Lewis for the season with a torn ACL.
"The game plan is the game plan," Belichick said. "We can't draw up 20 new plays because something happens. Guys practice and we have to back up every position; every player has to be ready to go."