New faces, same Giants: New York’s run of epic futility continues

·5-min read

The New York Giants have inspired plenty of emotion across the rest of the league in the course of their existence — rage, disgust, fear, jealousy, gratitude (for that whole beating-Brady-twice thing) — but Thursday night’s after-the-last-second giveaway 30-29 loss to Washington has inspired a new feeling: pity.

You can’t even hate the Giants anymore. You just kind of feel bad for them.

After Thursday, the Giants are now 18-48 — a winning percentage of just 27 percent — since 2017. That ranks dead last in the NFL. They’ve gone 0-2 to start the last five seasons. They’ve transplanted quarterbacks, swapped out front office staff, carved off coaches, shuttled high draft picks in and out like an overcaffeinated blackjack dealer, and the results remain depressingly the same.

Thursday night might have been the most painful gut-kick of the entire sad run. An NFL game lasts 60 minutes. The Giants were actually leading at the end of those 60 minutes, and yet they still managed to lose, thanks to an offsides penalty against Dexter Lawrence that gave Washington a second — and this time, successful — attempt at a game-winning field goal.

“I’m not going to put this on Dexter Lawrence,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said. “There’s things we all have to do better as professionals, but I’m not going to put this on any one player.”

That’s good, because there’s more than enough blame to slather all over this team. A holding penalty negated one touchdown run, and a certain touchdown pass ticked off the fingertips of a wide-open Darius Slayton. A brilliant interception deep in Washington territory late in the fourth quarter should have sealed the win with a field goal, but the Giants couldn’t keep Taylor Heinicke — Taylor Heinicke, who was taking classes at Old Dominion University this time last year and made only his third career start Thursday night — from marching down the field to set up that crucial, cringeworthy winning field goal.

The one guy who, improbably enough, rose above it all? Daniel Jones, who generated 344 total yards of offense all by himself — 249 through the air, 95 on the ground. We’re all so accustomed to the immobile Eli Manning rumbling in the open field with all the speed of a sunset that it was a bit of a shock to see a quarterback dressed in blue not just turning the corner but reeling off huge runs.

Yes, one was negated by that holding penalty, but if Giants fans are looking for any shred of hope — and at this point, that’s all they’ve got — Jones might not lead this team into a smoking crater every week. It would’ve been worth an emergency episode of Peyton and Eli’s Monday Night Football trash-talk just to get Eli’s reaction to Jones’ long runs.

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants rushes for a long gain during the second quarter against the Washington Football Team at FedExField on September 16, 2021 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Daniel Jones of the New York Giants rushes for a long gain during the second quarter against the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field on Sept. 16, 2021, in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Oh, and speaking of Monday Night Football … it’s worth noting that, per Elias Sports, Jones has lost all six of his prime-time starts in the NFL. (Why has he gotten six prime-time starts in the first place? NFC East Coast bias, baby.) No quarterback since 1950 has begun his career with seven straight losses in prime time.

However … the Giants’ next prime-time game arrives when the Giants go on the road on Monday night, Nov. 1. New York’s opponent that night? The Kansas City Chiefs. Good luck with all that, as another famous New Yorker once said.

Between Jones, a tentatively returning Saquon Barkley and multiple other talented individual players, the pieces would seem to be in place here for at least borderline respectability. Judge is an old-school football dude who even has the right kind of name — this ain’t Joe Casual, son — but even he can’t seem to get this team to lengthen its goldfish-level focus.

Judge’s tough-guy philosophy involves players and coaches running laps when they screw up. But this team could run the entire route from the opening credits of “The Sopranos” — and probably should, after Thursday night — and it doesn’t seem like it would make a dent.

The Giants get a very good chance to notch that first win of 2021 next weekend when the Falcons come to town. Beyond that, though, they’ll have to face the Saints, Rams, Raiders and both 2020 Super Bowl teams … along with all the chaos that comes with trying to fight through the thicket of their own division.

Like every team that plays in the NFC East, their one potential escape route to respectability is that they play in the NFC East … but given that they’re the team most responsible for giving the NFC East its terrible reputation in the first place, that’s not much of a possibility.

“There's enough things we can clean up as a team and we can play better going forward,” Judge added. “We're not going to go ahead and isolate one incident and say that's the difference in the game right there. We got to make sure that we do a lot of things better for 60 minutes."

Well, 60 minutes and one more play.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com

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