Despite a healthy cast of offensive weapons, the same problems plagued the New York Giants in their 2021 season opener as they fell 27-13 to the Denver Broncos on Sunday evening at MetLife Stadium.
A Giants offense that was amongst the worst in the NFL last season was wildly inconsistent yet again in Week 1 against a shorthanded Broncos defense that was without one of its stars in Bradley Chubb.
While New York had 314 yards of total offense, only 60 came on the ground as star running back Saquon Barkley was used sparingly in his return from a torn ACL suffered last season. Barkley recorded just six carries for 27 yards, putting much of the offensive onus on Jones and the passing game.
The third-year quarterback completed 22-of-37 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown, but a costly fumble in the third quarter all but doomed the Giants’ hopes of a comeback. Trailing 17-7, Jones scrambled down to the Broncos’ 15-yard-line before he was hit and lost the football, gifting possession back to Denver.
It came moments after the Broncos scored a touchdown that head coach Joe Judge mystifyingly tried to challenge whether or not Albert Okwuegbunam went out of bounds during his dive to the pylon despite the fact that a team can’t challenge a scoring play — it’s automatically reviewed by the league. It cost the Giants a vital timeout, though the Giants didn’t make it a two-possession game until Jones scramble home from four yards out with the clock reading zeroes at the end of the fourth quarter.
The Giants had taken a lead with just under nine minutes to go in the first half, answering a Broncos field goal with a seven-play, 75-yard drive — the team’s most impressive showing on offense. Jones hit Sterling Shepard, who led all receivers with 113 receiving yards, for a 37-yard touchdown.
Denver would respond with 24 unanswered points, including the go-ahead touchdown with eight seconds remaining in the first half.
After their touchdown, the Giants punted once, lost possession on Jones’ fumble, and turned it over on downs two straight times to keep an already-tired defense constantly on the field to wilt as the Broncos kept attacking.
It was an impressive debut for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was tasked with taking the reins of the Broncos’ offense. The veteran completed 28-of-36 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 115.7.