If last week’s home loss against the Steelers wasn’t a wake-up call, surely Sunday’s debacle in Cincinnati will be.
The New York Giants (6-4) looked listless Sunday in losing their second straight game—a 31–13 setback—at the hands of the 4-5 Bengals.
Paramount to the Giants’ loss were four second half turnovers including three on consecutive possessions that turned a 17–6 contest into a 31–6 laugher. The Giants finally did put the ball in the end zone with 2:46 remaining and the game clearly out of reach.
“Very disappointing,” said head coach Tom Coughlin, according to the team’s website. “I don’t have anything that I can really say that I was pleased with.”
Though the turnovers were the story of the second half the Giants weren’t much better in the first 30 minutes, on either side of the ball.
Cincinnati started the game with the ball and on their fifth play quarterback Andy Dalton took advantage of a busted coverage, finding a wide open A.J. Green for a 56-yard touchdown. Green who had just over 1,000 yards receiving last year as a rookie, finished with 85 yards on seven catches and that score.
After a quick Giants’ three-and-out, Adam Jones returned a Steve Weatherford punt 68 yards to the Giants’ 11-yard line. Three plays later Dalton found receiver Andrew Hawkins for an 11-yard score and less than five minutes into the game it was already 14–0 Bengals.
“I thought we did practice well this week. I thought we had good energy,” said Coughlin. “I didn’t think we necessarily played like that at the very beginning.”
Dalton would finish 21/30 passing for 199 yards and four touchdowns while his counterpart, Eli Manning, struggled once again.
Manning, who has not thrown a touchdown pass since his 77-yarder to Victor Cruz in the final moments of the Redskins game on October 21, ended up 29/46 for 215 yards and two picks. Though he was able to get the offense into the red zone twice in the first half, they had to settle for field goals both times.
One of those possessions started at Cincinnati’s 27-yard line after a fumbled punt return by Brandon Tate. Yet Eli and the offense were only able to muster one more first down before bringing on the field goal unit.
“We’re not playing our best,” said Manning afterwards. “We’re not converting on third, we’re not scoring in the red zone, overall just not being consistent enough and not making enough plays to keep the ball in our hands.”
By the second half not scoring in the red zone was the least of their problems.
After a three-and-out to start the half the Giants, on their next possession, put the ball in the hands of Ahmad Bradshaw who ran three straight plays for 24 yards before fumbling at Cincinnati’s 27.
After the defense forced another punt Manning was intercepted on their ensuing possession, at his own 18, after attempting to throw the pass with Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson draped all over him.
Dalton hit tight end Jermaine Gresham in the end zone three plays later to make it 24–6.
Three plays into the Giants’ next possession Manning was picked again, this time by cornerback Nate Clements who returned the ball 21 yards to the Giants’ 16-yard line.
Just three plays later Dalton found Mohamed Sanu for another 10-yard score and the rout was on.
“I think the four turnovers to their one and the fashion to which they took place was almost unbelievable.” said Coughlin, whose team coughed up the ball again in the fourth.
The Giants now have a bye week to correct a number of problems before hosting Green Bay the following Sunday night.