Deficits of 10-0, 14-0, 17-0 and 14-0 are not insurmountable in the NFL, nor are they ideal.
The Giants found themselves in those respective holes to start their last four games. Each included a comeback but ended in defeat, most recently at the hands of the Lions. This time, the slow start spoiled a four-touchdown performance by rookie quarterback Daniel Jones in the 31-26 decision in Detroit.
"Hard fought game, give Detroit credit," coach Pat Shurmur said. "They made enough plays to beat us. We did make plays at times in critical junctures of the game – you just never know when that’s going to be in a game like this. To say our guys battled – they battled. They always battle, but we have to play better and make more plays, then we’ll end up winning these games. So, I think that’s what needs to be learned from this."
IT WAS OVER WHEN: The Giants turned the ball over on downs with 3:27 left in a 12-point game. Jones tried to hit Darius Slayton, who caught two of his touchdowns earlier in the day, in the end zone on third and fourth downs from the Lions 14. They were contested but ultimately fell incomplete.
BIG PLAYS: Only Cincinnati had allowed more plays of 20+ yards than the Giants heading into Sunday. Matthew Stafford added to the total at Ford Field with touchdown passes of 49 and 41 yards. The latter gave Detroit a commanding 31-19 lead with 12:12 left in the fourth quarter. In all, four of his targets – Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall and rookie T.J. Hockenson – had receptions of at least 20 yards.
ROOKIE CONNECTION: Slayton again started in place of Sterling Shepard, who was sidelined for the third straight week due to his second concussion of the season. Slayton caught only two passes, but they both went for second-quarter touchdowns to bring the Giants to within one point of the Lions after Aldrick Rosas missed the ensuing extra point attempt wide left. After the game, Slayton said he fights for every pass so he can gain the confidence of his quarterback, who also posted the highest passer rating (124.2) of his young career.
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: The Giants won the turnover differential (2-1), but the difference was what each team did with them. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins tied a career-high with his fourth interception of the season, but Jones lost a fumble on a backwards pass on the ensuing possession. Former Giants linebacker Devon Kennard scooped it and scored.
"We kind of dug ourselves a hole there to begin with and that cost us in the end," Jones said. "But I thought after that we responded, and we played hard. We didn’t do enough to win, didn’t make enough plays, and you make it tough when you dig yourself a hole like that. So, it was a costly mistake and something I have got to learn from.”
Jabrill Peppers gave late hope to the Giants when he forced a fumble on Golladay, which fellow safety Antoine Bethea recovered at the Lions 38 with five minutes left in the game. The Giants, however, gave the ball back on downs.
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE GIANTS: With their fourth consecutive loss, the Giants dropped to 2-6 at the midway point of the schedule ahead of a Monday night visit from the Dallas Cowboys.
"We are a team that has to look in the mirror and get back to work," said tight end Evan Engram, who caught a touchdown. "We are going to keep fighting, I have no doubt, no second guessing anybody in this locker room. It’s a long season, we have a lot more opportunities to go out and compete and we are going to get to work.”
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE LIONS: The Lions ended their three-game losing streak and moved back to an even 3-3-1 record in a competitive NFC North. They travel to Oakland in Week 9.
"That’s a really good Giants team, they’re tough they keep coming, and they play 60 minutes – they battled," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "I’m really proud of our players, I think they battled all the way through the game, and they stayed with it. We knew it was going to be a tough game. I think the guys played tough. (We) made some plays when we need to make them, we have some plays we have to clean up. We did some things that I thought hurt us in the game. We have to make sure we’re not doing that because it just makes it harder, but I was proud of the guys to come in at halftime and they stayed with it – we made a lot of adjustments and a lot of corrections in the game that we were trying to make, and changed some stuff up midway to do the best we could to hang in. Give the players credit, I thought they tried really hard, and like I said, I think that’s a good team there – the Giants.”