EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 15: Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks on during the 2nd half of the Seattle Seahawks 23-0 win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)
What is there to say about the Giants’ shutout loss to the Seahawks? The Giants were overmatched on offense, and that was that.
The Seahawks’ defense dominated the game in a 23-0 rout Sunday. Eli Manning was under consistent pressure from the Seahawks’ front four, and he was intercepted five times by the NFL’s best secondary. To attribute the five picks just to the Giants’ quarterback would be to ignore the special skill of the Seahawks’ defensive backs, who blanketed the Giants’ receivers. Also, one of Manning’s picks came on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the half, so that’s hardly a sin.
Give Manning time in the pocket and he can be a winning quarterback. However, he’s just not that mobile inside or outside of the pocket. Manning is being panned for Sunday’s performance, and he should be, but this was just a bad matchup for him, given where the Giants are from a personnel standpoint on offense. The Giants couldn’t protect their pocket-passing quarterback, and they paid the price, wasting a good performance by their defense in the process. This was a perfect storm for a flurry of interceptions — strong defense, struggling offense, a franchise passer off his game.
It was a cut-and-dry loss for Big Blue. The Seahawks will be tough in the NFC playoffs. The Giants didn’t have a prayer of beating Seattle playing as poorly as they did on offense. If Big Blue is going to contend with clubs of this quality, significant roster improvement is necessary.
With two games left in the regular season, a clear, chilling pattern has developed with the Giants.
When they have faced good teams, they haven’t fared well.
The better the opponent, the worse it has been. Six of their nine losses have been by 15 points or more, and three of those defeats have come to clubs already in the postseason: Denver (41-23), Kansas City (31-7) and Seattle (23-0).
The Giants also have lopsided losses to Carolina (38-0), Philadelphia (36-21) and San Diego (37-14). Of those opponents, the Panthers are surely playoff-caliber, and the Eagles and Chargers have playoff-quality offenses. The same goes for the Cowboys, who beat the Giants twice; and the Bears, who beat Big Blue back in October.
Now let’s consider the Giants’ five victories. In all five of their wins, they faced a team led by a quarterback who would later be benched for some reason, whether for injury or performance. Yes, it’s true. The Vikings (Josh Freeman), Eagles (Michael Vick), Raiders (Terrelle Pryor), Packers (Scott Tolzien) and Redskins (Robert Griffin III) all made quarterback changes either when playing the Giants or not long thereafter.
There is no mystery about the Giants. They are who they are. There are no upset wins, no bad losses. The Giants are a cut above the NFL’s worst and a couple cuts below the league’s power elite.
Sunday was just the latest reminder of the work ahead, the tough decisions to come. The Giants’ starting quarterback has thrown 25 interceptions in 14 2013 starts, and he’s completing his 10th NFL campaign. These are the conditions for one big organizational stomachache.
The Giants have two games left. They are significant underdogs at the Lions next Sunday, which makes complete sense, for the Giants have not beaten anyone close to their caliber. In the season finale, the Giants host Washington, and it’s a game they can win, for Washington is in worse shape than they are.
With 14 games in the books, we all know these Giants all too well. The playoff dreams are gone. The discomfort is here. This is what it’s like to not be good enough.