The New York Giants are trying to learn how to win again. Their latest test came on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of where they last won it all in Super Bowl XLVI. For 59 minutes, the Giants had the Indianapolis Colts where they wanted them, but the final 55 seconds did them in. A late touchdown and an interception sealed the 28-27 comeback victory for the team still alive in the postseason hunt.
"Right is right, you win or you lose, and we didn't win," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. "We'll go back and we'll clean up the film like we do every week and make corrections and move forward to Dallas. That's what we'll do. That's the reality. That's the big boy part of this. Just keep working and keep trying to get better and keep trying to find ways to make plays on all three sides of the ball."
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Safety Malik Hooker intercepted Giants quarterback Eli Manning's pass intended for wide receiver Bennie Fowler in the middle at the Colts 35 and returned it seven yards with 23 seconds remaining in the game. "We kind of had a double move called on the outside," Manning said. "In those situations, you're kind of in a little bit of a – you've got to take a shot, got to take a chance and get a tough play. I thought I threw a pretty good ball, but obviously not."
LUCK OF THE COLTS: Thirty seconds before the interception, Indianapolis took its first lead of the game on a one-yard touchdown pass from Comeback Player of the Year candidate Andrew Luck to wide receiver Chester Rogers. It capped an eight-play, 53-yard drive that took 2:48 off the clock. The Colts found the end zone on four of their final six possessions before taking a knee in the victory formation.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: While the Colts scored touchdowns on all four of their trips inside the red zone, the Giants missed on just one of their four. And it proved to be the difference. The Giants had to settle for a short field goal when Manning was flushed out of the pocket and forced to throw it away on third-and-four at the nine-yard line. They extended their lead to six points with 9:20 left in the game, but 10 might have been enough.
YELLOW FLAGS: Rookie linebacker Tae Davis, who was playing in place of injured defensive co-captain Alec Ogletree, and cornerback B.W. Webb were called for separate passing interference penalties on the Colts' game-winning drive. On the Giants' possession before that, tight end Scott Simonson was called for a false start and center John Greco, who was starting in place of the injured Spencer Pulley, was flagged for an illegal block on back-to-back plays. It backed the Giants up even further after Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez pinned them at their own four. Consequently, the Giants had to punt and gave the ball to Luck, who needed 53 yards to win the game.
"You can't make mistakes," safety Michael Thomas said. "This is a team fighting for their playoff life. We played well enough to win, but just not down the stretch. Too many mistakes in the fourth quarter."
ONE OR THE OTHER: Propelled by 90 yards from Sterling Shepard in the first quarter alone, the Odell Beckham Jr.-less Giants raced out to a 14-0 lead. The first touchdown came on a one-yard run by Saquon Barkley, who was then held to under 100 scrimmage yards for the second game in a row and just the third time this season. The Giants are averaging 148.4 rushing yards in five wins this season and 76.5 in 10 losses, including 29 attempts for 83 yards on Sunday. "Well, you saw we had success throwing the ball, right, but we still made an effort to run the ball," Shurmur said. "They move around a lot. I think we would have liked to get more yards running the ball, but I feel like with nakeds and the play-actions, we were able to take advantage of the fact that they were trying to stop him."
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE GIANTS: Eliminated from postseason contention last week, the Giants had a chance to walk into a playoff-type atmosphere in Indianapolis and try to end someone else's hopes. After falling to 5-10, the Giants now wrap up the 2018 season at home against the Dallas Cowboys, who clinched their second NFC East title in three years with a victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday. "The team fought hard, and I take my hat off to the guys for that," said Shepard, who finished with six catches for 113 yards. "We fought hard to the very end, just came up a little short. But it's hard for you to pat yourself on the back when we ended up with the loss. … No doubt in my mind that these guys were going to keep on fighting, and we did that today. We were able to get in the end zone a lot. We started out pretty hot, and towards the end we kind of slowed down a little bit. So we've got to find a way to keep the energy up and keep the guys going into the fourth."
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE COLTS: After a 1-5 start, Indianapolis has won eight of nine games to stay alive heading into the season finale. The Colts travel to face the Titans, who also improved to 9-6 with a victory in Week 16.