TAMPA BAY, Fla. -- Bad teams find ways to lose. The New York Giants showed that again on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium as their season slipped further out of reach. They rallied to take the lead with just over three minutes remaining, then let it slip away.
Nick Folk, who had missed three kicks earlier in the contest, nailed a 34-yard field goal with no time remaining to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 25-23 victory over the Giants at Raymond James Stadium. It was the second straight week the Giants lost on a field goal with no time remaining. It was the second consecutive week where the stingy defense which carried them last season let them down late in the fourth quarter.
This is the sign of a bad team. The offense was problematic in Weeks 1 and 2. The special teams allowed a touchdown against the Lions and Brad Wing has contributed awful punts late in games each of the past two weeks. And now the defense is taking its turn as the culprit.
“Our offense is scoring some points. Everyone was talking about our offense this, our offense that. Our offense is the one that is keeping us in the game the past two games,” linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. “Our defense has to be the one that sucks it up and makes a damn play when it comes down to it. I don’t think we’ve done that the past two weeks.”
It looks like one of those seasons. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been banged up from the start. He now dislocated his finger Sunday and aggravated his ankle. He’s expected to be fine but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be 100 percent anytime soon.
Two of the team’s top defensive players are also struggling with injuries. Defensive end Olivier Vernon tried to play in Tampa but left early when he aggravated his ankle injury. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison missed some of the second half Sunday with a bruised knee.
It has all led to the Giants (0-4) being in a class with the Browns, 49ers and Chargers. They are the only remaining winless teams in the NFL.
“I would’ve never thought we would go 0-4, but it is what it is,” Beckham said. “That’s what our record is. We can’t sit here and cry about it. You just have to keep trying to get better each and every day, get the first win and see what happens from there.”
Next week might be a prime opportunity. The Giants host the winless Chargers and open as 4.5-point favorites.
The Giants looked awful early Sunday while falling into a 13-point hole, then rallied to take the lead heading into the fourth quarter. They let it slip away, reclaimed the lead and then let it slip away again. They have the problem that most bad teams experience -- offense, defense and special teams taking turns with their failures.
So where do they go from here? A season that began with such high expectations is all but over on the first day of October. Nothing the Giants seem to be doing is working.
The Giants tried a new offensive line, their third in four games this season. It still couldn’t fully revive a dormant running game or help produce an offensive explosion. The Giants finished with 91 yards (albeit a season high) on 28 carries.
They added rookie running back Wayne Gallman to the mix, which provided some spark, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. Gallman caught a 4-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter that handed the Giants their first lead of the contest.
They also made changes to their defensive personnel, but it didn’t solve all of their problems. The Bucs had 434 yards of total offense and averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
Last week it was Carson Wentz and the Eagles. This time the Giants allowed Jameis Winston and the Bucs to march down the field in the final seconds with relative ease. They went 62 yards in six plays before kneeling on the ball twice and kicking the game-winning field. And the Giants allowed it to happen.
“It takes all three phases,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “It’s more than one drive.”
It’s the sign of a bad team. That’s what the Giants are right now.