By Paul Dottino
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It’s rare when a team truly gets a big lift from a loss.
Only time will tell if the Giants, who are in their bye week, will qualify in that category after suffering a dramatic 27-26 defeat to the New England Patriots on Stephen Gostkowski’s 54-yard field goal with 1 second to play.
Not even Giants coach Tom Coughlin is sure how his team will react.
“They will hurt all day tonight and all day tomorrow,” he said after the game. “And we all will, we all will, and probably well into the bye week. But maybe that is a good thing,” he said after the game.
A good thing?
“It might not be a good thing, but it is what it is,” he said. “It hurts to lose. It hurts when you put as much into it as these young men did, (the) coaching staff did… ”
And especially when the Giants squandered numerous opportunities to pad their advantage, just as they did in three of their other losses en route to a 5-5 record.
Offense: QB Eli Manning
His numbers were impressive (24-for-44, 361 yards, 2 TDs). Then, consider that he had the offense keeping up with Pats QB Tom Brady & Co.. He actually had the Giants leading for the entire third quarter and then regained the lead with 1:47 left in the fourth. The Giants’ final scoring drive went 86 yards on 15 plays, capped by Josh Brown’s 29-yard FG to make it 26-24.
Manning did what he had to do with a first-and-goal strike to Odell Beckham Jr. in the left corner of the end zone for what would have been a 5-yard TD, but Beckham had the ball ripped from his hands by CB Malcolm Butler. Tight coverage prompted a wise throwaway on second down and then Manning — seeing there was nothing open on a third-down rollout — took a sack to give Brown an opportunity.
Defense: MLB Jasper Brinkley
Brinkley was a big reason the Giants were able to contain the Pats’ running game, limiting LeGarrette Blount to 66 yards and a TD on 19 carries. Brinkley also was strong on the blitz, with a fumble-causing sack against Tom Brady on the first play of the fourth quarter. DT Markus Kuhn recovered at the Patriots’ 31, but the Giants failed to score off the turnover and the score remained 17-10.
Special Teams: PK Josh Brown
Money in the bank, period. He hit from 37, 38, 53 and 29, extending his team-record streak to 27 without a miss.
Offense: WR Odell Beckham Jr.
His career-long 87-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown on the Giants’ first drive tied the game at seven, but Butler harassed him all game and held him to four catches for 104 yards. Butler was clearly beaten on an out route in the end zone with 2:06 left.
He watched Beckham haul in the pass and then whacked it out of his hands quick enough for the replay official to overturn the touchdown. Is anybody really sure what a catch is, especially in the end zone? Bottom line: Hold on to the ball and there is no review.
Defense: S Landon Collins
Collins had the game-sealing interception in his hands — a lollipop throw down the middle of the field — with 1:47 to play. He left his feet while extending for the ball, hauled it in and then lost the ball against his ribs as he knocked his head against the ground upon landing. The incomplete pass was the first snap of the Patriots’ game-winning 12-play drive.
Special teams: WR Dwayne Harris and RB Orleans Darkwa
Danny Amendola’s 82-yard punt return to the Giants’ 7 with 6:36 left in the third quarter set up Blount’s 1-yard TD plunge that brought the Pats within 20-17. Harris was the first defender in coverage and, perhaps duped by Amendola waving off the return, hesitated as he approached the returner. Rather, Amendola caught the ball near the right sideline, ran past Harris and then broke Darkwa’s grasp before dashing to the left sideline and upfield.
There were two punishing blocks along the way, a third block that took out P Brad Wing, and a fourth. Rashaan Melvin shoved S Craig Dahl from the back (a clear penalty that was not called) when Dahl was in position to stop Amendola at the Giants’ 40.