The New York Giants, still searching for some consistency, came up short yet again after losing 33-31 to the Carolina Panthers. If the future of their season seemed bleak following last week's brutal 33-18 loss to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, this week's defeat may have cemented another lost season.
To their credit, the Giants did put up a fight and had a comeback victory within grasp. But sitting at 1-4 after Graham Gano's 63-yarder at the end of regulation, you have to wonder how much fight the team has left.
Let's take a look on where it all went wrong this Sunday afternoon…
Another loss, but the game featured several reasons to stay on the aging Eli Manning's bandwagon. While some fans question why the Giants didn't pick a young quarterback to be Manning's heir in last year's draft, today on several occasions the 37-year-old showed why the team is still backing him.
Eli, yet again, showed he's the Manning you want as quarterback when your team is under pressure. In short, his performance in the last two drives put the Giants in a position to win the football game, 31-30. From a dime piece of a pass to Odell Beckham Jr. -- in between two defenders -- to the last touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley, the game seemed an inevitable win. However, with two interceptions under his belt, Manning was still not as high caliber as he once was.
But if this is a grade for quarterbacks, we'd be negligent to forget Beckham. The wide receiver made a highlight play when he slipped into the role of quarterback and got the Giants right back in the game, throwing Barkley a 57-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
There's a reason Penn State went as crazy for Saquon Barkley as they did.
Though he didn't have a great game rushing the football (3.2 yards per carry), his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield reminded New York why they picked him second overall in the draft. He had four catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns -- including two of the biggest offensive plays.
Beckham flipped the switch from last week's low-impact game. He put together some impressive plays, ending the contest with 130 yards receiving and a touchdown. Both Shephard's contributed to the aerial assault by adding over 125 yards combined.
However, it was also obvious that the team was feeling the absence of tight end Evan Engram. Manning showed he could not afford to be without his security blanket, as Rhett Ellison had only 17 yards receiving. Giants fans can only assume that if Engram was active, the team would had considerably more production on the offensive side of the ball.
Different from earlier in the season, Manning's offensive line gave him the time he desperately needed to make his plays -- especially when it mattered most in the fourth quarter. But that wasn't enough, as Manning was still sacked and pressured on multiple occasions, which caused at least one of Eli's two picks.
Barkley was also not able to find any holes on his rushing attempts, giving him a terrible average on the day.
While they started off in some trouble, the defensive line did a substantial job in holding Cam Newton in check when it came to the Panthers quarterback's rushing ability. Newton was less mobile than normal (29 yards), and the defensive line was able to contain him to a point where he was mostly a pocket-passer. Olivier Vernon was still greatly missed, though, as Newton had extensive time to get the ball out of his hands on several plays.
Also noteworthy is the way the line was able to keep Christian McCaffrey, a young star in this league, in check for much of the day with an average of 3.5 yards per carry.
The secondary came to play today, at least in terms of coverage, as they did miss quite a few tackles. They were able to keep the Giants in the game with two picks -- one from Curtis Riley and the other from notorious Janoris Jenkins.
The most notable error came in the first quarter from the lack of tackling, which led to a 25-yard catch and run by Curtis Samuel.
Special teams made up for the lack of consistency on the offensive line. Aldrick Rosas has been perfect five games into the season and has yet to miss a field goal. Rosas never even gave the opposition a second to make moves, as he was 5/6 on touchbacks as well.
But the downfall came when Jenkins recovered the loose ball and fumbled right away in the end zone during the second quarter giving the Panthers' Colin Jones an opportunity to accomplish a fumble recovery.
Beckham might have complained about being "out-schemed" earlier this week, but Pat Shurmur made sure to try to change his mind. Beckham not only played his wide receiver role, but also stepped in for a play as a quarterback and also made an impact on special teams. None of which would have happened if Shurmur didn't make the call.
It was refreshing to see the Giants' coach animated, and it seemed to breathe some life into the offensive line and his team at the stretch. But in the end, this is a zero sum game-and the Giants lost. There were some positives to take away from Shurmur's adjustments, but results matter.