Somewhere on Sunday night, acousticians are trying to decipher what made the louder thud: The New York Giants’ offense or center Nick Gates as he was knocked to the turf following a bizarre fourth-down attempt on a fake field goal.
The Giants were shut down and dominated by the Cleveland Browns (10-4) in primetime, 20-6, falling to 5-9 on the season and remaining a game behind the Washington Football Team for the top spot in the NFC East.
With Daniel Jones sidelined due to an ankle sprain, the Colt McCoy-led Giants offense came up with a dismal response to last week’s clunker against the Arizona Cardinals where they scored just seven points — creating a grand total of 13 combined points scored over the last two weeks.
McCoy, who completed 19-of-31 passes for 221 yards, was no match for Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who picked apart the Giants’ offense to the tune of 297 yards on 27-of-32 passes with two touchdowns. Cleveland is now a 10-game winner for the first time since 2007 and is on the cusp of ending a 17-year playoff drought.
Even with their backup quarterback in, head coach Joe Judge was keen on instituting an aggressive attack — likely because this was a Browns team that put up 41 and 42 points in their previous two games.
While the play-calling suited McCoy well, the Giants failed to capitalize on early opportunities, getting just three points on three-straight trips into the red zone. That featured a head-scratching fake field goal that saw Riley Dixon try and find center Nick Gates in the end zone despite being in triple coverage and Wayne Gallman getting stuffed on a 4-&-2 attempt near Cleveland’s 5-yard-line.
It left them trailing by 10 at the break, 13-3 as Mayfield and the high-powered Browns nabbed a pair of touchdowns on their three first-half drives, the third-year passer hitting Austin Hooper and Jarvis Landry for scores.
As the Giants slowed in the second half, the Browns cruised out of reach early in the fourth quarter when their second drive of the night that spanned 95 yards found paydirt. Nick Chubb capped off the gargantuan drive that spanned 7:17 with a one-yard rush to go up 17.
The Giants would cut it down to a two-possession game with another Graham Gano field goal with 4:07 to go, but it was nothing more than a consolation as they’d get no closer.