The feeling I had when the Giants’ scored on their first offensive drive of the season wasn’t replicated when they did the same in Week 2. I knew better than to think the Giants had completely changed in a week and were going to keep scoring or prevent the Bills from scoring. I have seen many Giants games in recent years begin the same way they have the first two weeks of this season and have seen many Giants games end the same way they have the first two week of this season as well.
The Giants lost 28-14, but had their chances to get back into the game and possibly tie or even win it. They had a chance to complete a two-touchdown comeback late in the game like they used to when they were a competitive team.
Trailing by seven in the fourth quarter, the Giants were a defensive stop away from getting the ball back and trying to tie the game. Instead of a stop, the Giants’ defense gave its usual late-game performance, the kind of performance which got Tom Coughlin fired and pushed Ben McAdoo out the door, and will end Eli Manning’s career. Needing a stop, the Giants’ defense gave up a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown, which ate up six minutes and three seconds, and included a crucial third-down conversion on the Giants’ 40 for 17 yards. But the most Giants part of it all was that the Bills originally had to settle for a 21-yard field goal on the drive before a personal foul on the Giants on the field-goal attempt gave the Bills a first down and an eventual touchdown. Whether it was a penalty or not (and according to Gene Steratore, it wasn’t), the Giants weren’t going to come back and win the game even if the Bills had only extended their lead to 10.
The loss had a little bit of everything for frustrated Giants fans. There were the back-to-back drives after the game-opening touchdown in which the Giants gained one yard total. There was the missed 48-yard field goal from Aldrick Rosas. There was the interception thrown by Manning near the end of the first half, which came immediately after the Giants’ defense forced one of the only punts they will force all season. There was the turnover on downs (the Giants third of the season) in the fourth quarter. There was that long Bills drive, which first resulted in a field goal and then a touchdown to all but seal the win for Bills, and there was another Manning interception late in the fourth quarter, which ended the game. And the game wasn’t without a Pat Shurmur blunder either as the mostly-lost Giants head coach tried to challenge a play which can’t be challenged, which now seems to be a weekly bit he does.
It was a textbook Giants loss as they gave Giants fans encouragement to begin the game then made them question why they even watch or care about the team before reeling them back in one last time only to break their heart late in the fourth quarter. I feel bad for the Giants fans who went through that gauntlet of emotions on Sunday. I have gone through it many times, but I’m now immune to it after having no expectations for this season.
Mathematically, the 2019 Giants are done. They are finished. After Sunday’s disappointing loss, the Giants have now started 0-2 in six of the last seven seasons. Everyone knows the history of 0-2 teams and reaching the playoffs, and it’s that they rarely every do, which means in six of the last seven years, the Giants’ season was effectively over in mid-September from an odds perspective. Those odds have held up for the Giants as they have missed the playoffs in the previous five seasons in which they started as 0-2 and they are by no means going to the postseason this year.
The only good that can come from this season now is that Daniel Jones plays and proves to be a franchise-caliber quarterback. That’s it. If he doesn’t then this entire season was a waste and can’t be considered a rebuilding year. If Jones doesn’t work out, the Giants are no better than the Browns were for many years: a team without a plan.
The Giants won’t know what Jones is until he plays, and there’s no reason not to play him now. The season is over, and with Manning in the final year of his contract, he doesn’t have a future with the Giants. As a Manning supporter and fan, it’s unfortunate it had to come down to this, but when you’re given the surrounding pieces Manning was for this season (and for most of his career), it was always going to end this way, in midseason with Manning standing on the sideline.