Giants Lose to Falcons, but it Could Be Worse - NBC New York

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Giants Lose to Falcons, but it Could Be Worse

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    Craig Dahl of the New York Giants fails to stop a fourth quarter touchdown reception by Leonard Hankerson of the Atlanta Falcons on September 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Falcons defeated the Giants 24-20.

    Cheer up, Giants fan, it could be worse.

    Sure, your team is now 0-2 after losing to the Falcons, 24-20, becoming the first team in NFL history to blow 10-point leads in the fourth quarter of its first two games. But there’s a lot to be thankful for. Namely, that you’re not a fan of the Cowboys, Eagles or Washington, divisional rivals whose 2015 prospects amazingly look more bleak than the G-men’s through the first two weeks of the season.

    The Cowboys? In the words of owner Jerry Jones, they’re as low as a crippled cricket’s ass after learning that quarterback Tony Romo has a broken clavicle and is expected to miss about eight weeks.

    The Eagles? They capitalized on the Romo injury by taking the ensuing drive right down the field, ending it with quarterback Sam Bradford throwing a ghastly interception in the end zone. Their offense is a hot mess.

    Washington? They’ve won eight games since the beginning of the 2013 season, and while Washington has to be feeling good about themselves after beating a Rams team that last week beat the Seahawks, Washington is still the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL and Kirk Cousins -- 21 interceptions in 15 career games -- briefly went against script by not throwing any passes to St. Louis on Sunday.

    Yup, the 0-2 Giants are tied for last place in the division with Philadelphia, while Washington is 1-1 and Dallas is 2-0. But has there ever been a 2-0 team that feels less sanguine about its future than the 2015 Cowboys? If backup quarterback Brandon Weeden can do an adequate Earl Morrall impersonation, maybe the Cowboys can get by with a stout defense, a great offensive line and – who are their top skill players now with Romo and Dez Bryant injured? – oh, right, Terrance Williams, Joseph Randle and Jason Witten.

    Oof.

    Who would have predicted that the best QB-WR tandem in the division for the next two months would be Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.? And with a favorable upcoming schedule -- Washington, Buffalo, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, New Orleans and Tampa Bay -- before facing New England on Nov. 15, the Giants aren't dead yet.

    At about 4 p.m. ET yesterday, after Manning ended the Giants’ comeback attempt by unsuccessfully throwing to Preston Parker on fourth down -- yeah, I would never have guessed that Parker would come up short in a key moment -- the Giants looked about as low as a crippled cricket’s ass, a term I will be working into conversations as often as possible.

    Midway through the fourth quarter, up by 10 points and deep in Atlanta territory, the Giants seemed primed to shake off last week’s devastating loss to Dallas – when time-management stupidity and bad decision-making by Manning did them in again.

    Manning was flushed out of the pocket, didn’t sense pressure from behind and fumbled the ball. Instead of -- at worse -- being up by 13 points, the team was on its heels and everyone watching the game could sense that the tide had turned.

    How can a team play so well for three and a half quarters and yet feel so insecure that a 10-point lead feels so tenuous at the first sign of trouble? If this were a team with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback, it'd be more understandable. But Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning have seen a thing or two.

    Until the Giants manage to close out a game by successfully protecting a lead, fans are going to be on tenterhooks. There was a lot of good things to take away from yesterday's game -- Odell Beckham Jr.'s explosive touchdown reception, some great situational punting by Brad Wing, a recovered fumble by Larry Donnell (!) -- but the running game was largely dormant and the miscues in the red zone (including  Dwayne Harris failing to come to a set before the snap on a third down) continue to kill this team.

    Still, who among NFC East fans feels best about their team today? Cowboys fan? Not likely. Eagles fans? No chance. Honestly, it's probably Washington fans, which says all you need to know about how wide open the division will be this season.

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