Justin Pugh: 'I should have recovered that damn fumble'

For the second straight week the Giants let fourth quarter mistakes derail their chances at a victory. Offensive lineman Justin Pugh is kicking himself for not cleaning up his teammates miscue.

The Giants officially dropped to 0-2 to start the 2015 season after another fourth quarter collapse this past Sunday. New York was outscored 14 to 0 in the fourth quarter and blew a 10 point lead they had surmounted throughout the game. The Giants had the opportunity to add to that 10 point lead with 4:25 left in the 3rd quarter, but Eli Manning was strip-sacked by Kory Biermann inside the Falcons 10 yard line.

The offense was stagnant after the fumble and the Falcons’ offense clicked throughout the rest of the game. Giants’ offensive guard Justin Pugh talked with The Giants Beat about the continuation of the teams’ fourth quarter mishaps.

“I should have recovered that damn fumble, it was right by my legs,” Pugh said referring to the Biermann strip sack. “It just could have saved us. I saw it hit and went to go get it and just couldn’t get my hands on it.”

Whether Pugh could have recovered the fumble or not, he is not solely to blame for the Giants ineptness to move the ball in the fourth quarter. The offense rises and falls as a unit and on the last three drives the Giants went without a first down as well as incurring several critical penalties and drops. 

“I felt like we moved it all day on them besides the last three drives of the game and you can’t have that,” commented Pugh on the Giants’ offensive immobility.

On the Giants second to last possession, Eli and offense had the chance to milk some clock by picking up a first down with under 3:30 to play. The down and distance was third and seven and it seemed like the offensive unit was set to take the snap, however Manning and offensive line failed to hike the ball causing a delay of game penalty, turning the third down into an unlikely 12 yard conversion attempt.

“That’s something that we have to get up [to the line] and get set,” Pugh said explaining the situation. “As an offensive line, get set and see the defense so we can make our adjustments… We have to get a first down there and put our defense in a better position.”

His initial response made the instance seem undifferentiated from any other o-line pre-snap assessment, however as he continued, more light was shed on the delayed snap.

“We were trying to draw them offsides and get some yardage there and I guess it just ran out. We have to get a first down on that drive. The first play we have to get more yards and make it more manageable so we don’t have to throw it the next two times.”

Not to point fingers, but this is the second instance in back to back weeks where veteran QB Eli Manning has displayed abysmal time management skills. At the end of the day the defense shares an equal amount of responsibility for the loss, but Eli has to be more aware of the clock in that situation. Pugh summed up his thoughts on the game at the end of the interview very professionally.

“At the end of the day, you have to do your job in the fourth quarter and win…we didn’t execute when we needed to.”

Hopefully the Giants can truly bounce back on a short week this Thursday Night when they take on a Washington Redskins team that is coming off a convincing victory against the St. Louis Rams. 

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