There’s plenty to be disappointed about in the (7-4-1) New York Giants 20-20 tie to the (7-5-1) Washington Commanders on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
They missed an opportunity to create some separation in the wildcard standings between them in their division rival, as it was a game that they should have won had they not committed some costly mistakes at crucial moments.
There was Jon Feliciano’s taunting penalty midway through the fourth quarter after a first-down reception by Darius Slayton with the Giants up 20-13.
Then on New York’s next possession, following a Taylor Heinicke 28-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 20, Slayton dropped a pass inside the Commanders’ 40-yard line with 1:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
On top of that, there was some questionable play calling, and then there was Saquon Barkley and Richie James running into one another on 3rd-and-2 late in the game.
The Giants’ defense doesn’t go unscathed in the loss, as both of Washington’s touchdowns were the result of missed tackles, and they allowed the Commanders to rush for 165 yards on 36 carries.
Despite all of the miscues by the team, they still had a chance to win in the final seconds, but Graham Gano’s 58-yard field goal attempt fell short.
With all of that said, the tie to Washington wasn’t the end of the world, as there are reasons to be optimistic despite squandering a chance of winning their first divisional game of the season.
Here are three reasons why Big Blue should be optimistic following their tie to the Commanders.
Azeez Ojulari revitalized the pass rush
For the first time since Week 4, New York had their best pass rusher on the field as Azeez Ojulari made his return and made an immediate impact. He had a strip sack in the first possession of the third quarter that he would recover, and he also had two quarterback hits.
His presence on the field made life easier for his teammates as the pass rush was dominant in sacking Heinicke five times on Sunday. Ojulari’s production will only increase over the final five games of the season as he gets into playing shape. Expect New York’s pass rush to be at its best during the final stretch.
Related: 2022 NFL defense rankings: See how Wink Martindale’s defense stacks up
They would still be in the playoffs if the season ended today
Nobody wants a tie, but it’s certainly better than a loss. If the season ended today, New York would be the sixth seed and would have its first playoff berth since 2016.
Had they lost on Sunday, Washington would have jumped ahead of them as the sixth seed, and the Seattle Seahawks would have jumped ahead of them too, following their 27-23 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. If New York would have lost, they would have fallen to eighth in the NFC, and they would currently be out of the playoff picture.
Related: Predicting NFL playoff bracket and Super Bowl 2023 winner
Giants put an end to double-digit loss streak
The Giants are one of the elite franchises in the NFL, having won four Super Bowls in the last four decades. But the team had lost credibility over the past five seasons as they’ve had a revolving door at the head coaching position, and they’ve had five seasons in a row with double-digit losses.
With Sunday’s tie, the most losses New York can have this season is nine, which will put an end to their dubious and embarrassing streak.
Of course, head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen don’t care what happened prior to their arrival, but many players in the locker room had to endure this streak of ineptitude.
Ending the streak won’t be discussed amongst players and coaches, but fans can take solace in the fact that this is an indication that their team is heading in the right direction.
The Giants will once again look to get their first win in the division and enhance their chances of making the playoffs next Sunday when they face the (11-1) Philadelphia Eagles.
Related: 4 tasks New York Giants must complete to reach playoffs