The opportunity was there.
With five minutes to play and the New York Giants trailing the San Francisco 49ers by six, Eli Manning and the offense had a first and goal at the San Francisco four yard line.
In spite of Manning’s then four interceptions, the lack of a running game and continued offensive dysfunctions, the team was still in a position to win. It needed just four yards in four plays.
New York didn’t get a yard before Manning was intercepted on fourth down, all but sealing the deal on the team’s 16-10 loss Sunday afternoon in East Rutherford.
“Four shots from the four yard line,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “It’s inexcusable that we didn’t score.”
Throughout the game’s entirety, the calm, cool and collected Manning that had taken the field for New York’s previous nine games was no where to be found. Manning missed passes low, high, inside and out. Coughlin said Manning was dealing with “accuracy issues” and the quarterback’s play made it abundantly clear.
Manning, who entered the game having thrown six interceptions all season, was intercepted five times, three of which when targeting Rueben Randle. He completed just 22-of-45 passes for 280 yards.
“You’re not going to win a game turning the ball over five times,” Coughlin said. “I can guarantee you that.”
Early in the game, it appeared as if the game was headed in the complete opposite direction as what it ended up. On the Giants first possession, Manning marched New York 63 yards in five plays before finding tight end Larry Donnell for a 19-yard touchdown. The drive was set up when Zack Bowman recovered a Frank Gore fumble.
But after New York’s touchdown, the offense went cold. The team’s ensuing drives resulted in a punt, two interceptions and two more punts before finally getting on the scoreboard with a Josh Brown field goal in the third quarter. With the Giants offense in a rut, San Francisco did just enough to win the game.
Following Gore’s fumble, the 49ers kicked three consecutive field goals to go on top, 9-7. On their first drive of the second half, quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit receiver Michael Crabtree on a slant. The former first-round pick burst through the center of the Giants defense for a 48-yard score.
New York answered with Brown’s field goal, but were unable to put any additional points on the board after. Manning was intercepted for a fourth time at the San Francisco 20, but the most back-breaking pick came with New York deep inside 49er territory.
Starting at their own 35 with 6:18 to play, Manning marched the Giants quickly into San Francisco territory. On second down at the 49er 41, Manning went deep to Odell Beckham Jr. down the right sideline. The rookie made a leaping grab to set New York up at the four. On first down, Manning threw a fade to Beckham that was out of reach. On second down, Manning threw a fade to Randle which fell in complete. On third down, Manning threw a fade to Larry Donnell who landed hard on his shoulder and dropped the ball. On fourth down, Manning forced the ball inside to Preston Parker. As the ball hit Parker’s hands, the receiver was hit and the ball popped up and into the arms of San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland.
“We need to bounce back,” Coughlin said. “Now we’ve had a defensive fiasco, we’ve had an offensive fiasco. Perhaps maybe now we’ll be able to go out and put something together.”
The loss for New York drops its record to 3-7. It faces the Dallas Cowboys at home next Sunday night.
Quick Hits and Tidbits
- The Giants lost their fifth consecutive game to fall to 3-7. It is their worst record after 10 games since 1998, when they were also 3-7 and finished 8-8.
- Inactive for New York were cornerback Mike Harris, linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion), guard Adam Snyder, defensive end Kerry Wynn, offensive tackle James Brewer, offensive guard Brandon Mosley and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf). Mike Patterson started for Jenkins and Mark Herzlich for Williams.
- Offensive tackle Justin Pugh left the game with a quad injury and did not return. Speaking after the game, Coughlin said Pugh originally hurt his quad in last week’s game against Seattle, but practiced fully all week. It acted up against San Francisco.
- Receivers Rueben Randle and Preston Parker each left the game at various points in time with ailments. Both returned and were said to be fine after the game.
- Of Manning’s interceptions, three were intended for Randle. Two were intercepted by Chris Borland, one by Michael Wilhoite, one by Chris Culliver and one by Eric Reid.
- Odell Beckham Jr. finished with six catches for 93 yards. Rueben Randle caught seven passes for 112.
- Earlier in the week, Coughlin spoke about how he wanted his “big players” to make “big plays.” The comment was in response to a question about Jason Pierre-Paul. On Sunday, Pierre-Paul had one tackle. Receiver Preston Parker had two.
- Defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. recorded a sack bringing his season total to five. Since the start of last season, Ayers has 10.5 sacks. In his first four seasons, he had 6.5.
- The San Francisco 49ers rushed for 148 yards on the Giants defense and averaged 4.0 yards per carry.
- The Giants recovered an onside kick in the third quarter, their first successful onside kick since Nov. 7, 2004 vs. Chicago.
Post-Game Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of post-game media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:
- QB Eli Manning (Video)
- RB Rashad Jennings (Video)
- WR Odell Beckham (Video)
- WR Rueben Randle (Video)
- DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Video)
- DE Robert Ayers (Video)
- S Antrel Rolle (Video)
Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at Giants.com.