By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants had the opportunity to take a step closer toward a postseason berth and remain two games back of first place in the NFC East if they could beat the visiting Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football. Instead, after a disheartening 40-24 loss to Andrew Luck and company, the Giants may have seen their playoff chances vanish along with any hope of a successful season.
This loss to the Colts was that bad. The Giants trailed 40-10 with under nine minutes to go in the game before scoring a pair of meaningless touchdowns to make the score a little more presentable. But for anyone who watched the game knew this Giants team just wasn't good enough to even compete on the same field as the Colts.
Indianapolis may be a borderline great team, but it's still a squad that has lost three times this season and let up 51 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a loss last week. But the Giants made the Colts look like Super Bowl favorites.
The Giants are now 3-5 at the midway point of the season and are closer to last place than they are to a playoff spot. The Giants offensive line is terrible, they have no running game and the defensive backfield is in shambles, with cornerback Prince Amukamara likely lost for the season with a torn bicep. This season may get worse before it gets better. It was one of those weeks.
Here is a look at our keys to victory and how they actually played out on the field Monday night.
Giants Must Get Lucky
Why It Was Key: The Giants need to get Andrew Luck to turn the ball over, something he is prone to do. Luck has thrown nine interceptions and lost a fumble in eight games this season. He obviously has no problem taking chances down the field, so the Giants have to take advantage when given the opportunity to pick a pass off. If the Giants don't get at least one turnover, it might be impossible to beat the Colts Monday night.
How It Played Out: Not good. Luck was unstoppable against the Giants' banged-up secondary, completing 25-of-46 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns. He didn't turn the ball over, as the Giants created zero takeaways overall. Turnovers, of course, was a major key to victory for the Giants, but they couldn't get one even with the Colts throwing the ball 46 times before taking their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. The Giants did gt some pressure on Luck, hitting him 11 times, but could only sack him once. There was no Luck for the Giants here.
Stopping An Old Friend
Why It Was Key: Covering former Giant Ahmad Bradshaw out of the backfield will be key, and the Giants linebackers will likely have that assignment. If Bradshaw gets open out of the backfield, it will be that much easier for Luck to hit receiver T.Y. Hilton down field for a big play later on, as the Giants will be creeping closer to the line to account for their former teammate. The common theme for the Giants will be to cover.
How It Played Out: Bradshaw had just seven carries but gained 50 yards, a 7.1-yard per carry average. He also caught three passes for 29 yards. Bradshaw certainly didn't beat the Giants by himself, but that common theme of covering didn't work out so well. Nine Colts caught passes against the Giants, with seven bringing in at least two receptions. Even former Giant Hakeem Nicks caught three passes for 44 yards. As for Hilton, he had three receptions for 71 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown reception.
All On Manning
Why It Was Key: The Giants can't run the ball, as Andre Williams takes over for Rashad Jennings as the feature back once again. Williams hasn't had anywhere near the success Jennings had before the latter was lost to a knee injury, which shouldn't be surprising considering he was a fourth-round draft pick. But that big drop will put more pressure on Eli Manning to win the game through passing game.
How It Played Out: First, the Giants couldn't run the ball again, with Williams rushing 12 times for 22 yards and a touchdown. Michael Cox was actually the team's leading rusher with 27 yards, and he got just two carries. In all, the Giants rushed 20 times for 89 yards, including a 18-yard scramble by Manning. The loss of Jennings is bigger than anyone realized, as the Giants have nobody capable to take over his role. With that ineptitude, the game did fall on Manning's right arm. Manning completed 27-of-52 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns, but most of the yardage came when the Colts had already built a 40-10 lead. He was done in by a number of dropped passes in the game. They weren't all drops, but Rueben Randle was targeted 11 times and managed just four receptions. At least Odell Beckham Jr. ended up playing a big game, catching eight passes for 156 yards. Manning didn't get much help in this loss and the result is a 3-5 record with eight games to play.