Pat Shurmur wanted to talk football, not drama, after his team’s wild loss on Sunday in Carolina.
The Giants’ head coach was referring to off-the-field matters, but between the white lines, the drama was unavoidable. The 33-31 loss to the Panthers saw the Giants erase an 11-point deficit in the final 11 minutes and a second-half sequence that included interception-interception-touchdown-interception-interception-touchdown. That’s not even mentioning a fumble return touchdown and a trick play that resulted in a 57-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to rookie running back Saquon Barkley.
“Yeah, that was quite a game,” Shurmur said in his post-game press conference. “To play it, I mean there’s many things to talk about. I’ll just field your questions, but, disappointed for our team. The way we played, we played hard, we played tough, we played the way that I know that our team is. So for the record, our team is tough, they play hard and I’ve got no issues with the way they play. Again, we’ve still got some things we’ve got to clean up and play better, but we’ll get that fixed as we go. We’ll deal with the disappointment quickly and then we’ll get right back to work being we’ve got a game on Thursday.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Graham Gano kicked the game-winning, 63-yard field goal with one second remaining in the game. It is tied for the longest game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter or overtime in NFL history. New Orleans kicker Tom Dempsey converted a 63-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of the Saints’ 19-17 victory over Detroit on November 8, 1970. This comes a year after the Giants lost to the Eagles on Jake Elliott’s 61-yarder at Philadelphia.
“Obviously this was a tough one, a tough one just because I’m proud of the way our team fought back from that game,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “There were calls and there were plays and a lot of things not going our way. The defense got a stop there and held them to a field goal at the end; we knew we needed a touchdown to go and win it and guys made some big plays. Russell Shepard on the post route; Saquon Barkley on the final one; line picking up things; everything we could do to come back from some bad plays we had in the third and fourth quarter and to get the lead there. We probably felt like we deserved to win that game and obviously to lose on a 63-yarder is tough to swallow.”
PLAY OF THE GAME: Through Week 4, league-wide scoring was at an all-time high, but the Giants had yet to hit that wave. They were averaging 18.3 points per game, 29th in the NFL, heading into Carolina. A trick play turned out to be the spark they needed. Midway through the second quarter, Shurmur dialed up a wide receiver pass. Manning dropped back, threw backwards across the field to Beckham, and the wide receiver tossed it down the opposite sideline for a 57-yard touchdown to Barkley. The Giants outscored the Panthers 28-16 from that point.
“It was a big lift, particularly when you’re in a tight game and you have something good that happens,” Shurmur said. “It kind of jumpstarts your team and your emotions. I thought it was really well executed by everybody, the way we had it schemed up. The guys blocked it, then the throw and the catch.”
KEY STAT: The Giants put up season-high totals in yards (432) and points (31) despite failing to do something for the first time since 2006 – convert a third down. They were unsuccessful on seven tries as the Panthers controlled the time of possession for more than 35 minutes.
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE GIANTS: The bad news is they fell to 1-4. The good news is both Cowboys and Eagles also lost and dropped to 2-3 on the season. The Redskins, who play on Monday night in New Orleans after an early bye week, currently sit atop the NFC East at 2-1. The Giants and Eagles meet on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.
“The record is what it is,” Manning said. “You have to worry about the next game. We have a short week playing Philly and our mindset will be on that. We will have to try to bounce back from this quickly, but to build off the fight that this team has. Every game that we have played we have been right there at the end, we have had a chance to win every single one and we just have to find a way to come together as a team. Everybody step up and raise their level of playing in those final minutes, final quarter of the game and give us an opportunity to win some games.”
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE PANTHERS: Carolina improved to 3-1, keeping pace in a NFC South division that sent three teams to the postseason in 2017. The Panthers draw another NFC East opponent in Week 6, hitting the road to take on the Washington Redskins. Carolina’s only loss this season has come on the road while it has won eight consecutive games at home dating back to last year.
“Really just feel fortunate,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We played a good football team out there. Every time we had the opportunity to put them away, they just kept fighting their way back. We made some mistakes, things that we need to get corrected, but you have to give that football team credit. They have a two-time Super Bowl MVP, an All-Pro wide receiver, they have a young running back that has some excitement to him, they have a big massive offensive line. You have to give them credit.