Jim Mancari, ContributorThe Giants embraced the role of playing spoiler in a 23-20 overtime win, but it really was the Lions that blew this game more so than the Giants actually rising to the occasion.
The loss eliminates the Lions from playoff contention. But even so, the Giants’ offense looked totally inept at times – in fact, most of the time.
Big Blue led 13-3 at halftime, and for the most part, the makeshift offense line held its own against a tough Detroit defensive front. And Jerrel Jernigan – who was the team’s leading receiver last week against the Seahawks – had four catches, including a great catch on his first career touchdown reception, in the first half.
But right out of the gate in the second half, the Giants were absolutely awful offensively. Their first five drives of the second half resulted in four three-and-outs and a safety.
Before Will Hill’s 38-yard interception return for a touchdown, the Giants had only gained a total of eight yards in the fourth quarter and did not move the chains for a first down once. Another pathetic showing.
Even in overtime, the Giants could not capitalize on a great opening return from Michael Cox – which seemed like it was the first time all season that the Giants got a positive play from the special teams unit.
In the second half, the Giants’ offensive line simply broke down. Eli Manning was under constant pressure and took a few big hits. When Dallas Reynolds winds up replacing an injured Brandon Mosley who was playing for the injured David Diehl, you know you have problems along the offensive line.
As for turnovers, this game featured the two top teams in turnovers in the league. It looked like the Giants may actually have a game without a turnover, but then Manning threw a typical Eli pass off his back foot on the Giants’ final drive for another bad interception – setting the Giants franchise record with his 26th interception of the season.
Manning again looked off all day. His frustration was apparent as he missed several big throws down the sidelines.
With all that was wrong with the Giants’ offensive performance in the victory, it was nice to at least see some aggressive play-calling. Especially on the second drive in overtime, going for a fourth-and-seven play took some guts, but Manning hit Jernigan for a huge first down, which eventually set up Josh Brown’s 45-yard game-winning field goal.
Jernigan really took some positive strides. With Hakeem Nicks’ future in blue very uncertain, Jernigan is making the most of his chances to prove he can contribute next season.
The same can’t be said for Will Beatty, who continues to make the Giants regret that huge contract from this offseason. Between the holding penalties and allowing defenders to go right past him, Beatty looks lost, though he should be the one who is consistent along the line based on all the shuffling around him this season.
So it certainly wasn’t pretty offensively – especially the second half – but luckily for the Giants, the Lions really beat themselves, like they’ve done all year.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.