The passing offense created three touchdowns, but just one for the Giants. On one hand, the Giants have found something in building their passing attack around Odell Beckham and relegating Rueben Randle into a complementary target. Randle was not forced the ball as has often been the case this season and caught 3 of 4 targets for 52 yards. This efficiency showed in Eli’s completion percentage, over 70% for the second straight week. Grading the passing offense as a whole though, they are essentially the reason the Giants lost this game. An embarrassing effort to keep Manning upright led to Jacksonville’s first fumble return touchdown, and Larry Donnell turned a good looking drive into a disaster when he fumbled the close to midfield for the second fumble return touchdown. This is one of those games, similar to Week 2 against Arizona, which shows how one or two big mistakes can completely turn a game on its head and undo some positive things.
At times the Giants running game looked quite good, with both Jennings and Williams seeing running lanes and having runs over ten yards. Once again though, the every-down consistency to win up front that is the hallmark of any good running game wasn’t there. Jennings had two rushing touchdowns, and both backs as usual ran hard, but until the team gets better up front the Giants will not be able to run the ball as well as they aspire to. Injury problems continue to mount, with Geoff Schwartz once again likely looking at extended time on the sidelines.
The Giants certainly had their highlights, including sacking rookie quarterback Blake Bortles 7 times, and the Giants defense was only responsible for 13 points on the day. But while it is a credit to the young quarterback that he didn’t turn the ball over in the face of pressure, the Giants have to do a better job of creating turnovers. The Giants were once again beat with a big touchdown reception, a perfectly thrown 30 yard touchdown pass from rookie to rookie. Outside of this, the Giants defended the pass well enough to win this game. Turnovers could have bailed the offense out, but the blame primarily lies elsewhere.
Blake Bortles and Denard Robinson are never going to be mistaken for Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, but the Jaguars found the same read-option that killed the Giants in Seattle proving to be the nail in the coffin on Jacksonville’s game-winning drive. 2 decisive runs for a total of 31 yards from Blake Bortles took the Jaguars from midfield to easy field goal range. The Jaguars hardly had a consistent ground game on Sunday, but found big chunks on the ground with the game on the line. On the balance of 60 minutes the Giants didn’t defend the run terribly, but letting Blake Bortles carry the Jaguars with his feet in the clutch was a major mistake.
Odell Beckham provided a little spark as a punt returner and it was a good day for Steve Weatherford punting, but this game was noteworthy for kicker Josh Brown who missed his first field goal of the season – a 43-yard attempt that ultimately proved decision in a one-point loss.
If Tom Coughlin wasn’t on the hot seat before, this game has to turn up the heat. Up until this point, every loss the Giants had suffered came against a team with a winning record, and when the Giants actually had the fortune of playing a team with a sub-.500 record the Giants would come out victorious. Not every coach can have a roster always playing above the team’s real ability, but questions have to be raised when the team is unable to beat lesser talented ones. The season has been over a while now for the Giants, but a win against Jacksonville would have at the least snapped the losing streak and set the Giants up nicely for a bounce-back end to the season. Instead, Tom Coughlin will find the job security questions inescapable and rest of his staff will be on edge as well. The Jaguars it could be argued were fortunate to pull off a win of the narrowest margins, but the Giants not coming away with a victory against a team with just one win previously is simply not good enough.