In a season full of missed opportunities and close losses, this one hurts the most. Down 35-7 with 5:32 left in the 3rd, the Giants mounted a furious comeback against the still-undefeated Carolina Panthers only to fall short and see their playoff hopes take a major hit. Big Blue scored a record-tying 28 unanswered points with 1:46 left to play, only to watch Cam Newton march the Panthers 49 yards down the field and set up the winning field goal from 43 yards away. The loss coupled with Washington’s win means New York (and Philly) is a game behind in the NFC East with only two left to play. Also, they are out of contention of the conference’s wild card spots with a pair of 9-5 teams, Seattle and Minnesota, occupying those spots.
While most analysis and commentary will focus on Odell Beckham Jr.’s on-field antics, at least he showed up when most needed. The same cannot be said of the Giants’ defense who began and ended the game very softy despite seemingly finding its feet after the half. One of the few defensive silver linings was the play of Jason Pierre-Paul who continued his week-to-week ascension by recording his first sack of the season and, as a result, will collect a $100,000 incentive bonus. To celebrate, he mimicked his victim’s famed “dab” and “Superman” celebrations although Newton had the final laugh. JPP also batted away a goal line pass meaning he ended the day with 3 tackles, a sack and a deflected pass.
JPP left little doubt as to whether or not he needs a club as he showed off his mangled hand during a pregame interview. This, however, will not lessen the scrutiny he is under while playing with the club as he not only missed a tackle on a 47-yard Cam Newton run but also missed a potential pass deflection by a fingers’ length.
Despite these miscues, Pierre-Paul is showing continuous improvement and getting closer to resembling the force he once was. How well the defense would have fared with him fully fit is a question Giants Nation will be wondering throughout the off season, regardless of when it starts. For now though, the pressure is mounting, the losses are piling and the playoffs are drifting further and further away.