Week 8 brought NYG to Kansas City on a Monday night where the Chiefs entered 50-19 as home favorites under Head Coach Andy Reid since his tenure began there in 2013. The high-flying Chiefs have been the hottest flavor in the NFL, earning 2 straight Super Bowl appearances and 41 wins since the start of 2018. Since the start of 2015, NYG has 37 wins. 2021, however, has been a different story for last-place KC. They entered the contest 3-4 while leading the league in turnovers and near the league lead in penalties. And that wasn’t even the most glaring in-house issue. The Chiefs defense ranked dead last in the NFL in yards allowed per play. This was a “get right” game for the Chiefs while NYG was still sending out a roster full of injuries to key players.
The game began as expected. KC marching down the field chunk by chunk with minimal resistance from the Giants defense. They picked up 5 first downs with a healthy mix of run and pass but stalled once inside the NYG 10. Mahomes tried an odd-looking jump pass as their 3rd down play broke down and absolutely gunned it at Josh Gordon. It bounced off of him, another KC player, and into the hands of safety Julian Love. NYG had the early momentum. It lasted 1 play.
Daniel Jones stared down Darius Slayton on a slant pattern, giving KC Willie Gay the avenue to intercept the ball right back. Starting at the NYG 13, KC needed just 4 plays to net a touchdown on a pass from Mahomes to Tyreek Hill. KC had the early lead. The two teams traded scoreless possessions but as the 1st quarter came to an end, Jones hit John Ross III for a 50-yard gain. The next 2 plays gained another 30-combined yards and the Giants, the worst red zone offense in the league, found themselves with a first down from the KC 6-yard line. They made 5 yards in 3 plays, and it was a no-brainer to keep that offense on the field to try and tie the game up. Tie the game up is what they did on a 1-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph.
Both teams went 3-and-out on their next respective drives before KC put together another lengthy, death-by-a-million paper cuts scoring series. Derrick Gore ended it with a 3-yard touchdown run. With the game at 10-7 and halftime approaching, NYG got their offensive flow back on the back of Jones, who either threw or ran with the ball on each play. They made it all the way down to the KC 5-yard line but with-it being 4th and 2, Joe Judge opted for a field goal. It was an odd decision. A couple series prior, Judge kept the offense on the field for a 4th-and-goal attempt from the 1-yard line, they were down 7. This time? NYG needed 2 yards to continue the drive, they were down 7. So, the ball being 3 feet further away was the only different factor and it was the factor that pushed Judge toward going for 3. Odd decision that, to be honest, lacks true logic. Graham Gano hit the 23-yarder to get within 4.
After stopping KC once more, NYG got the ball back with 1:36 left. Because they had no timeouts left for some reason, they watched valuable time dwindle off of the clock via 3 complete passes that gained a total of 11 yards. 1:11 came off the clock (:25 left), but they were close to midfield. There would be a shot to get more points on the board if they executed. Over the next 16 seconds, Will Hernandez was flagged for a false start, Nate Solder was flagged for a hold, and Jones was flagged for a delay of game. Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2021 New York Giants.
The second half began with three uneventful drives. KC’s second offensive drive, however, saw them gaining first down after first down again. They shot themselves in the foot again, this time with a Travis Kelce fumble. James Bradberry scooped it up and returned it just shy of midfield. Here was the break NYG needed to right the ship. NYG gained four 1st down themselves and on the second play of the 4th quarter, Jones hit Evan Engram for a 5-yard touchdown. NYG was winning 17-14.
Yet another long drive by KC followed, this one 14 plays deep. The NYG defense stayed intact, however, keeping the home team to a 36-yard field goal which tied it up at 17. NYG was in good position against the worst defense in the NFL to take time off the clock and put more points on the board. Two big mistakes by NYG, however, reminded all who were watching that this team finds ways to lose games. A 15-yard taunting penalty by Elijhaa Penny and a drop by Darius Slayton prevented them from continuing the drive until at least reaching field goal territory.
KC, a team that does know how to find ways to win, took that change of possession and turned it into a game-winning 3 points. 9 plays took 3:34 off the clock and they were fortunate Oshane Ximines barely jumped offsides (which did not impact the play) because Mahomes threw an interception on that play to Darnay Holmes. KC brilliantly bled the clock and took away NYG’s timeouts. They were left with 1:07, no way to stop the clock, and 75 yards to go. The offensive line completely faltered and NYG had no shot at getting even close to being close to field goal range.
NYG loses 20-17.
-Daniel Jones: 22/33 – 222 yards / 2 TD – 1 INT / 96.1 RAT
Jones had an up and down night. The interception just 2 plays after the Mahomes interception was an absolute killer. He gave up his intended passing target immediately post snap without checking off the linebacker. He was also off on two third-down throws where he had an open target. The touchdown pass to Engram, however, late in the game to take the lead was a big time, elite-level throw. Very tough window and ball placement to hit with little margin for error. The offensive line got leaky in the second half, and it prevented him from stepping into his throws in addition to rushing his progressions. Chalk this one up to a middle-tier performance that did not push the needle in any direction in regard to his long-term status with NYG.
-Devontae Booker: 15 att – 60 yards / 5 rec – 65 yards
125 yards on 20 touches is a very solid performance for the 6th-year pro. He ground out a few tough runs where he fell forward, pushing piles and created with the ball in space. He is a very limited athlete, though. A few occasions he had some green to work with, made a nice cutback, but did not have the juice to finish it off. Booker also made a couple of nice blocks in pass protection again.
-Overall, it was a poor night for the position group. Sterling Shepard went down in the 2nd quarter with a quad injury. Multiple soft tissues injuries to a receiver in just a few weeks are bad news. Based on how he reacted, looking like something “popped,” we may not be seeing him for a while. At the time of this writing, I have not seen a report yet.
-Kadarius Toney, also coming off a game missed because of injury, was on the field for just over half the plays. He hurt his thumb in the second half but he came back on the field toward the end. He is a tough, hard-nosed kid who you can tell really wants to be on the field competing. He completed a 19-yard pass and caught 4 passes for 26 yards.
-John Ross III led the team with 72 yards on just 2 catches. He caught a 50-yard pass while fighting off a pass interference. His second catch went for 22 yards and even though he body-caught it, I came away with thought he needs to leapfrog Darius Slayton on the depth chart. Slayton out-snapped Ross 52 to 16 and Slayton walked away with 2 targets, 0 catches, and 1 drop. The two nearly have the same yards (Slayton 190 / Ross 189), but Ross has seen 9 less targets. Jones also appears to have more rapport with Ross from what I can see as well.
-Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph both caught touchdowns. They combined for 5 catches and 25 yards on 7 targets, hardly noteworthy. The trade deadline has now passed, and Engram remains with the team unfortunately. I would love to find out what teams were speaking with NYG about him and what offers were put on the table. I don’t see a future with NYG and him being together.
-The NYG offensive line graded out well for most of the game, but really started to fall apart toward the end. The KC pass rush has arguably been the worst in the NFL this season (hence the trade for Ingram they just made) and it played that way against NYG for the most part.
-On the outside, Matt Peart manned the left tackle spot for the injured Andrew Thomas again. He allowed a half-sack on the final play and 1 pressure. Nate Solder allowed 1 pressure and was flagged for a hold. It was an above average grade for both, but their mishaps occurred at key moments of the game which could create a false, negative perception of their overall game.
-All three interior linemen allowed a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Matt Skura allowed a half-sack and a pressure, Will Hernandez allowed a sack and a pressure in addition to being flagged for a false start, and Billy Price allowed a TFL. KC has some decent players between the tackles and I think this trio did a fine job against them. All are considered “power” blockers though, and none of them got any sort of push at the point-of-attack in the running game.
-Leonard Williams continues to play at an elite level among interior defensive linemen in this league. He added 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, and forced a fumble. One thing I admire most about his game is how often he can be moved around alignment-wise, but still perform at a high level. Some defensive linemen struggle when they’re moving left to right and/or outside to inside. Not Williams. He is such a weapon up front and is producing at a high level.
-Austin Johnson has been the second-best lineman on this team, I’ll say it now after 8 games. He added 2 tackles, 2 TFL, and 1 pressure. Is that an indictment on Dexter Lawrence? Not really. He finished with 4 tackles. Johnson has exceeded expectations by a long shot and Lawrence’s performance is consistent. He isn’t disappointing, but he isn’t playing the way one would want 1st rounder to.
-Tae Crowder is getting the opportunity of a lifetime with Blake Martinez out, and overall, he is not coming through. The speed is stand out and he plays a physical brand, but his reactions are behind, and he is making poor decisions on the fly. He was flagged for a dumb personal foul in the 4th quarter while NYG was up by 3, putting KC into field goal range. He was flagged later on for a 15-yard face mask penalty on the game winning drive; however it was a bad call by the refs. He finished with 7 tackles.
-With Lorenzo Carter out, Quincy Roche played 62% of the snaps while Oshane Ximines played just 22%. If that isn’t an indictment on Ximines and his future here, I don’t know what is. Roche was the best edge presence on the team in this game, finishing with 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure. Ximines did add 1 tackle and a pressure as well.
-Azeez Ojulari was neutralized most of the night. He did add a TFL and 2 tackles. The rookie now has made 7 plays behind the line of scrimmage in 8 games. One thing I see with his pass rush that will need to eventually change is the accuracy and power from his hands. There isn’t enough juice there when he gets engaged with the blocker. He is active, plays low and sturdy, and will get slippery to blockers but he needs more contribution from his hands.
-Adoree’ Jackson was one of the stars of the game for NYG. He did an excellent job against Tyreek Hill, arguably the most dangerous playmaker in football. He had 12 tackles and 2 PD. Mahomes wanted to go Hill’s way downfield multiple times, but Jackson stuck to him well. Jackson should have had an interception on one of the deep attempts, but simply mistimed his leap for the ball.
-James Bradberry had 4 tackles, 1 PD, and fumble recovery. They matched him up on tight end Travis Kelce, the top player at his position in the league, and the cornerback neutralized him for most of the night. This was one of the least productive games in Kelce’s career, and while it wasn’t just Bradberry, he was a huge part of it.
-Darnay Holmes was on the field for 54 plays (including special teams), a season high. He had a 4th-quarter interception nullified by an offsides penalty. Unfortunate occurrence, as it was an impressive play on the ball, a play that I feel Holmes really needs to make. Over his 20 games in the league, we have seen way more negatives than positives by a long shot but there is something about him. I still believe in his potential and I like his competitiveness, but he needs to make a few more plays to see his confidence get to where it needs to be.
-Aaron Robinson saw his first NFL action after spending time on the PUP list. He only saw 9 snaps and I don’t have much to report. He looked a bit unsure and out of position, but it didn’t hurt the defense. Curious to see how they work him into the rather deep defensive back rotation.
-Logan Ryan and Xavier McKinney both played every snap on defense. McKinney appears to be catching on mentally over the past 2-3 weeks. His play speed in notably picking up. Next, we need to see better angles. He had 6 tackles. Ryan added 9 tackles and forced the Kelce fumble that Bradberry recovered. He is a really good player who would be appreciated more if this were a good team.
-Julian Love came up with the deflected interception on the game’s opening drive. He also allowed a touchdown later on.
-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 23)
-P Riley Dixon: 5 Punts / 43.0 avg – 43.0 net. Dixon’s most crucial punt of the night resulted in just 34 yards. A prime opportunity to pin KC near the end zone was anything but. Dixon ranks 21st in yards per punt, 23rd in net average, 19th in punts inside the 20, and is tied for the 4th most touchbacks. He is having a terrible year.
-CB Adoree’ Jackson, DT Leonard Williams, RB Devontae Booker
-LB Tae Crowder, WR Darius Slayton, P Riley Dixon
3 THOUGHTS ON KC
(1) Is the league starting to figure out how to play against this KC offense? Head Coach Andy Reid is one of the best offensive minds in the game and he is as innovative as anyone. He excels at changing things up, keeping his quarterback in a simple-read offense, and spreading the ball out. How come they aren’t gaining yards and scoring the way we have seen in previous years? Well, they’re still top 10 in points and top 5 in yards. It would be nice to consider that an “off” year. I think the slight step backward has more to do with the KC offense feeling more pressure than in years past. They have allowed the 25th most points in the league and allow the most yards per play. Mahomes is pressing, running around when he doesn’t need to, and taking unnecessary risks. Remember, he is still in that QB maturation phase even though some have already sent him to Canton.
(2) KC traded for OLB Melvin Ingram. What I hope this does, for their sake, is move Chris Jones back inside to play in the B and A gaps. That is where he has been a dominant force but for whatever reason, they have shifted him to a more 5-technique role on the outside. What made him forceful was how uncomfortable he made QBs who tried to step up in the pocket. He is massive and nimble. He just doesn’t impact the game as much from the outside.
(3) Tyreek Hill is the scariest player in football. Aside from what I think of him and the story about hitting his kid, I think he is the one guy who can change a passing game with his mere presence more so than anyone else. It is rare to find his (literally) world class speed. It is rare to find the kind of stop-and-go agility he possesses. Hill has both and what never gets talked about his how well he sees the field and anticipates angles. He is a free agent after next season.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
(1) The Giants next play a game on short rest against a 1st-place team coming off a bye. That is a tough draw, one that schedule makers should have seen. LV has seen a ton of adversity off the field this season with Jon Gruden parting ways (no, it was not mutual) with the organization. And the latest story about Henry Ruggs III killing someone in a DUI accident will only further distract this team. I have been woefully impressed with how the team responded to the Gruden situation and their next test will be here against NYG without their top deep threat.
(2) At or near the top of the NYG wish list this offseason will be another outside pass rusher to pair with Ojulari, the NFL rookie leader in sacks, and the versatile Williams. However, Quincy Roche is now in the spotlight, and I am curious to see if NYG may have possibly caught some lightning in a bottle here. I wasn’t too high on him in the draft (graded as a 5th rounder and 18th overall edge defender), but he has caught my eye numerous times. Between him and the rookie Elerson Smith (remember him?), there are plenty of snaps to zero in on regarding this spot.
(3) With the salary cap concerns NYG has coming up in the next 2-3 years, the trio of Lorenzo Carter, Evan Engram, and Will Hernandez need to woefully impress over the next 8-9 weeks to even be in the discussion for a second contract. In my eyes their roster spots and production can be filled with future rookie contracts and players that have fresher legs and more long-term upside.