The Giants faced another tough opponent in the Colts on Monday night. After two straight divisional losses on the road, it was nice for New York to return home, but the result was not pleasant. The Giants fell to the Colts 40-24 and now stand at 3-5 and in third place in the NFC East.
Tom Coughlin’s team was unable to keep pace with a high-octane Colts attack that saw four different receivers catch touchdown passes from Andrew Luck on Monday. With New York’s defense banged up, it was up to the offense to control the clock, but an anemic running game did not allow that to happen.
“Well there wasn’t any run game,” said Coughlin after the game. “We did a pretty good job of holding them on third down too but we were worse off. You’re going to keep the ball, control the ball… I really don’t know what the time of possession was. That was another thing. If you’re going to be able to do that, you’ve got to convert on third down and we didn’t.”
The Giants held the ball for 27 minutes, but some of that was skewed by a late and ultimately meaningless fourth quarter rally. The clock may have not been as much of an issue if the Giants hadn’t fallen behind in the game early. A key play was Luck hitting tight end Coby Fleener with a 32-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter to put the Colts up 10-0.
On the previous play, Luck hit Fleener for 21 yards, but as the tight end was going to the ground, Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams appeared to knock the ball out of his grasp. The play was ruled a complete pass on the field, but the Colts went into no-huddle mode to try to avoid a challenge and catch the Giants off guard.
Coughlin said he thought the first Fleener play was a catch, but he wanted to challenge it anyway just to slow the Colts’ offense down.
“I was trying to do anything I could to stop that, stop the clock, stop the game, whatever, whether it was or not. Seriously, did I think that they didn’t catch the ball or whatever? I felt he caught the ball.”
Whether or not Fleener caught the pass turned out to be a moot point. He caught the next one for a touchdown in part because the Giants were still struggling to get their defense set up. Safety Quintin Demps was caught in the middle of the field and never got over to cover Fleener by the sideline. At the end of the play, Coughlin’s red challenge flag was on the field, but the referees ruled that it hadn’t come out until after the Colts had snapped the ball.
“They go fast,” said Coughlin, “Whenever they make a big play, they go fast. We talked about it all week, our defense prepared for it all week long. All of a sudden, we weren’t getting lined up as fast as we should. I wasn’t sure exactly whether the ball was fumbled or not. I would have done anything to slow them down right there. Obviously that didn’t work. They were able to take advantage of us in that one circumstance.”
The Giants will have to be better prepared if they hope to defeat the Seahawks in Seattle next week and get their season turned around.