Five Things: Week 13 – Washington Commanders at New York Giants

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In a game that offered little in terms of playoff clarity for both teams, the New York Giants and Washington Commanders played out a drab 20-20 tie. I suppose a silver lining is that I can continue my “good, bad, and ugly” theme from last week. Here are five things that stood out:

The Good

In a game that is likely to be remembered for all the bad, there were still a few positives to take away for the Giants.

Isaiah Hodgins played in his fourth game since joining the team from the Buffalo Bills practice squad, ending the game with five receptions of six targets for 44 yards and a touchdown, his first in the NFL. Not only has Hodgins shown safe hands since joining (13 receptions of 14 targets), but as he showed on a third-and-10 catch in the first half, he’s got the determination to fight for the dirty yards.

We also finally had the emergence of a pass rush, as for the first time this season we were able to see Azeez Ojulari, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Dexter Lawrence, and Leonard Williams all on the same field together. Although Williams had to leave the game in the second half with a neck injury, the Giants recorded five sacks in the game with Thibodeaux, Lawrence, and Ojulari, who also recorded a fumble and recovery, each grabbing one along with fellow linemen Jihad Ward and Justin Ellis.

The Bad

After a 10-day break following the Cowboys’ second-half thrashing, you’d think the Giants would be raring to go, but it was a lethargic start on both sides of the ball. Daniel Jones scrambled and then fumbled the ball on only the fourth play of the game; the defence then decided that missed tackles were the order of play (a total of eight on the day according to PFF), leading to the Commanders scoring 10 points in the first quarter.

The Giants did manage to clean up their play for the 2nd quarter and the start of the third scoring 20 unanswered points but after that, the offence descended back into their sluggish play and looked devoid of inspiration. With the game score at 13-20 in favour of the Giants with just over three minutes of the third quarter gone, the Giants had plenty of time to find anything that would have likely sealed the win, but their next eight drives (overtime included) went punt, punt, punt, punt, kneel, punt, punt, and finally, the missed field goal to end overtime.

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The Ugly

Other than the result, there were plenty of moments in the game that left many a Giant fan dumbfounded.

We’ll start with Jon Feliciano’s decision to run from his position on the field to the sideline to flex. Now admittedly, Feliciano has since said he was flexing in the direction of Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton, who had just converted a first down, but the wily veteran should know better than to test this season’s referees, who spotted the myriad of Washington players around him and put two and two together. The ensuing flag negated the yards gained, and instead of being able to capitalise on the momentum to increase their lead, the Giants ended up punting the ball away just four plays later.

Overtime itself was another story with a couple of facepalm moments, but none more than when the Giants lined up for a third-and-three just inside Washington’s half and, as the ball was snapped, Saquon Barkley and Richie James ran into each other, leaving Jones to give up a sack. The decision to get cute with the play calling ultimately ruined what was a promising drive that could have ended the game.

Worst Coached Game of the Year?

It’s safe to say that if you isolated the first half of the season, you could argue that the coaching staff would all be deserving of nominations for honors, but in the last few weeks, mistakes, poor clock management, cautious play calling, and not resolving the season’s Achilles heel of slow starts have brought Giants head coach Brian Daboll back down to earth.

The slow start is not something new, but for some reason, we’ve been unable to ascertain what the root cause is. Earlier in the season, it wasn’t too much of an issue due to our second-half comebacks, but with the Giants’ offence now wildly inconsistent, we need to play from the first play to the last.

Mike Kafka’s play-calling hasn’t been awful, but it also hasn’t set the world alight either, and there were multiple missteps this week. There was the decision to not take a shot into the endzone late in regulation on third and one and to call a run, either of which shows a distinct lack of trust in either Daniel Jones or the wide receivers, plus the aforementioned overtime play and punt, which gave most of us the impression that the staff were happy to not lose rather than win.

A Tie, Really?!

The scoreboard may read tie game, but in the hearts of the fans and the players, this was just as deflating as a loss. Coach Daboll may have downplayed it by saying, “It’s better than a loss; not as good as a win,” but in the grand scheme of things, this one had to sting, especially since it was against a divisional rival.

The strange thing is that due to the scheduling this season, the Commanders will now take their late bye week while the Giants will need to be vastly improved as they take on another divisional rival, the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles before we do it all again against the Commanders, this time at FedExField in a game that has now been flexed into the Sunday Night Football spot.

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