I had a conversation with my wife on Sunday night after the Giants lost 36-9 to the 49ers. She thought it was hilarious that Big Blue lost by 27 points in a game that I thought they would win. I even said before the game that I thought the Giants would win. I wasn’t the only one who thought so. New York was only a three-point underdog and San Francisco was short its starting quarterback and star tight end.
The game even looked like an even match for most of the first half. The Giants tied the score at 6-6 with a Graham Gano field goal midway through the second quarter and then put the heat on 49ers backup quarterback Nick Mullens on the ensuring possession. Leonard Williams sacked Mullens and appeared to force a fumble that the Giants pounced on, but the referees blew the play dead even with Mullens falling forward while he was being tackled.
With about five minutes to play in the half, the Giants could have had a golden opportunity to take the lead before halftime. I couldn’t be that mad, though. After the sack, it was 3rd-and-22 and the Giants were going to get the ball back on a punt, anyway. I didn’t matter that blew a still-live play dead just to protect poor little Nick Mullens who isn’t a star player in any reality. What happened next sealed the Giants’ fate, though.
They easily stopped Mullens’s dump-off short of the first down market, but the refs booked rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes on a teensy-weensy tick-tack of an illegal contact penalty that had no bearing on the play. He gave the receiver a little bump 10 yards down field and suddenly 3rd-and-22 was 1st-and-10.
I mean, give me a break. Just one break. It’s already dumb to call a little bump on 3rd-and-forever that completely bails out the offense in a crucial situation. It’s another to make that call RIGHT AFTER you robbed the defense of a turnover. I don’t think referees should focus on making everything even with make-up calls. Some teams just commit more penalties than others. There has to be a little bit of justice in the football world, though.
Of course, the 49ers scored a touchdown on that drive to go up 13-6, and the game snowballed from there. I’m not saying the Giants win if that combination doesn’t happen — they were completely outclassed in the second half — but we for sure get a more competitive game if Big Blue gets the ball back there.
Okay, maybe not super competitive. The Giants’ offense never really got going aside from a couple of long runs by Daniel Jones on read-option plays that fooled the defense. Through the air, Jones was 17-for-32 with 179 yards and a pick. Woof.
Mullens, meanwhile, did great even when the officials weren’t helping him out. The Giants did a good job keeping San Francisco’s rushing attack under control, but Mullens was up for the challenge and torched New York for 343 yards. James Bradberry looked great again while breaking up three passes, but the front seven has to step up the pass rush because the rest of the secondary consists of too much Holmes and Corey Ballentine. Thanks for being a jerk, Deandre Baker.
The Giants are now staring 0-5 right in the face with upcoming games at the Rams and at Dallas. New York will be a heavy underdog in both games before probably being favored at home against Washington in Week 6. That’s not very exciting, but we have to keep watching to see how this team develops. I think the offense will play better in the future because the defenses won’t be as tough, but it will be up to Daniel Jones to take care of the ball on long drives because the only real big play threat with Barkley on injured reserve is Darius Slayton.
The defense has shown some promise lately. The free agent acquisitions of Blake Martinez and Bradberry have helped a lot, but there is still a lack of depth at defensive back and the absence of a game-changing pass rusher up front. Even if Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines take leaps this season, I’m still thinking that the Giants should draft the top pass rusher available with what is looking to be a very high top draft pick in 2021.