John Fennelly, Lead WriterThe Giants are in unfamiliar territory here in the Tom Coughlin era. In his ten seasons as the Giants’ head coach, the team has never started the season less than 5-3. The best they can do by mid-season this year is 4-4 after getting spanked by the Chiefs, 31-7, in Kansas City yesterday.
After getting crushed in Carolina, 38-0, last week, the Giants nearly repeated the feat this week had it not been for a 69-yard TD heave from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz in the second quarter.
The Giants continued to sputter on third down, converting only one of 14 third down opportunities in which eight of the ten were for more than ten yards. It was the second time this season the Giants had only one successful third down conversion. They were just 1-for-11 against Denver in Week Two.
They were also 1-2 on fourth down and did not have any possessions in the red zone. In addition, they held the ball for just over 24 minutes.
“Our inability to make a first down and then make another first down and drive the ball, we’ve seen way too much of that,” Coughlin said.
For the second time this season, the Giants allowed a long punt return for a TD when Dexter McCluster took a Steve Weatherford delivery 89 yards to the house.
“The special team errors hurt very much,” Coughlin said. “The punt return down the middle to the excellent returner, that’s going to bite you. If you do it and continue to do it, it’s going to come back and hurt you. Then allowing them to keep the ball and run more plays after the penalty and fourth down, there’s no excuse for that.”
READ: Tom Coughlin postgame comments
“I thought our defense played hard today, and I thought for the most part, had we had some offense to go with it, particularly in the second half, if only to get them off the field for a while. The finish might have been better. We took the ball away from them some; they hadn’t had any turnovers and we got some turnovers, but we didn’t do anything with them. We answered right away with the first touchdown. We should have had it tied at halftime with the missed field goal. That was one of our better no-huddle drives, right before the half. But our inability to do anything with the ball in the second half, there’s no excuse for that. That’s poor; that’s extremely poor. The special team errors hurt very much. The punt return down the middle to the excellent returner, that’s going to bite you. If you do it and continue to do it, it’s going to come back and hurt you. Then allowing them to keep the ball and run more plays after the penalty and fourth down, there’s no excuse for that. I did think that the effort was good. They played hard and wanted it. They sustained it pretty much the whole ball game. With that it was improvement over last week. The second half offensively and the mistakes on special teams, you’re not going to have a chance to win.”
Q: Especially until that return, you were right in it
A: “Yes we were. They challenged when it was 4th-and-miniscule, and if it hadn’t been on the 30-yard line, I would have gone for it on fourth down. But if I would have gone for it on fourth down and didn’t make it at that point in the game, that would have been a foolish error. So we punted the ball and he punted it right down the middle of the field and of course back it came.”
Q: Is this what they did to you or what you did to yourselves offensively?
A: “They have a good defense. That’s been proven in the first three games. Our lack of execution is not on them, that’s on us. They did get reasonable pressure on the quarterback; they got to him a couple of times, but I thought we did a pretty good job with the rest of it. There were some times when the play call was a down-the-field throw that he couldn’t hang in there quite long enough to accomplish that particular play, and that’s sometimes down and distance and there’s really not a lot you can do. They have a good defense; can’t take anything away from that. However, our inability to make a first down and then make another first down and drive the ball, we’ve seen way too much of that.”
Q: Where do you go from here?
A: “Keep trying. What do you mean ‘where do we go from here?’ We go back, take a look at the tape and at the next opponent, we come together, we try to plan again. We go back to work. What else is there for us to do? Go back to work and see if you can make something happen that allows us to be more competitive, to play a second half of a game rather than one half, to play four quarters and put some points on the board to give our defense a chance to re-group rather than send them back out there every three plays.”
Q: On the effect of deferring the initial kickoff to the second half
A: “Again, three plays and out. You’re talking a 10-7 score, we’ve got the ball back. It’s three very poor plays. I wouldn’t say that they were executed very well. So it negated that part of it. I thought there was a chance there by deferring that our defense would go out and stop them. We did stop them in six plays rather than three, but I thought we would get better field position than what we did out of it (I think they drove it to midfield). That having been said, that part worked fine. The part that didn’t was that we did nothing with our second half kickoff return, which is twice I’ve deferred and twice that’s happened.”
Q: On feeling deflated after the missed field goal at the end of the second quarter
A: “That was a good drive. We moved it down (the field), and there it was sitting, a circumstance where we had to make a play on fourth down; I didn’t like the 53-yard field goal so we made another play and then with 18 seconds we made another play and we got it to where it was a 44-yard field goal. It was on the right hash. Had I had my druthers, I would have had it moved off the hash but that hurt.”
Q: On the noise level at Arrowhead affecting the game
A: “I thought we handled the noise well. We had prepared for it. We know it’s a very loud stadium. But I didn’t think that was as issue at all. In fact, I think it probably got our guys at the beginning of the game revved up a little bit.”
Q: On the attitude of the locker room, especially not having been in a position like this before
A: “I’m depending heavily on the leadership and the character of the guys in that locker room. I’ll take the lead and try to do the best I can to make sure that, yeah, there’s nothing I can do about tomorrow, we have to talk about the game. But come Wednesday, we’ll give them some information that I think will help them prepare for the next opponent and pick ourselves back up, have a good week of practice, go play as hard as we can play and try to improve on this second half debacle.”
Q: Where has the offense gone? What do you see as the problem?
A: “There’s no continuity, no rhythm. There’s a play here and a play there, but there really isn’t any rhythm. We don’t make any first downs. Play calling is like throwing a dart at a board. There’s no real feel for the ball being continuously moved down the field. I think that’s some of it. Is that all of it, maybe not. The first half, we had some runs that were pretty good. That gave us that play action pass which was the deep touchdown. I thought we were going to have a good mixture the second half. It didn’t quite prove that way, ended up being throw, throw, throw and that’s not good.”
Q: On his confidence that the players will follow his lead: “I think they will. Yes, I am confident that they will.”
A: When you say that the play calling is like throwing a dart, are you considering making a change in who calls the plays? “No, I’m not saying it’s bad play calling. What I’m saying is that when you make first downs and you get into a rhythm it’s a lot easier than it is when you have a third down. We’ve had trouble making third downs. Let’s face it, we’re not doing much with third downs. When you don’t do that, your first downs are minimal and you’ve got issues with any kind of drives. I think the drive before the half, that was probably one of the most lengthy drives we have had all season.”
Q: On WR Hakeem Nicks’ injured thumb causing his dropped balls
A: “I don’t think [his finger was the issue].”
GEICO SportsNite has reaction from the Giants following a tough loss to the Chiefs on Sunday that kept New York winless on the season.