SEATTLE — With flagging hopes, waning confidence and deteriorating solidarity, the Giants visited Seattle on Sunday, an unlikely place for the upset victory that would resurrect a season spiraling toward a non-postseason oblivion.
And yet, late in the third quarter of a tied game, there were the Giants driving in Seahawks territory. The Giants even seemed to have momentum on their side. The Seattle crowd, celebrated for earsplitting cheers that greet a steady succession of home victories, had been suppressed.
Led by the precise downfield passing of quarterback Eli Manning and the precocious rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants had startled and confused the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. Then, on a first down from the Seattle 39-yard line, Manning wanted to throw to tight end Larry Donnell over the middle, but Donnell was covered. Nudged in the pocket and rushed, Manning stole a thought from his daring and sometimes reckless past. He decided to throw deep to Beckham again.
The pass, toward the right side of the end zone, was off line and ill-advised. Beckham deflected the ball with one hand to Seattle safety Earl Thomas, who returned the interception 47 yards.
Whatever spell the Giants had cast on the Seahawks was lifted, and less than three minutes later, Seattle had a 7-point lead after scoring the first of three fourth-quarter touchdowns in what became a 38-17 thumping.
There would be no season-saving upset in the Pacific Northwest. Instead, with the Seahawks (6-3) rushing for a whopping 350 yards, the Giants, losers of four successive games, tiptoed out of Seattle demoralized and dispirited. They are 3-6 and staring at a second consecutive losing season.
“It’s embarrassing as a team and an organization,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “We just got handled at the end of the game. We didn’t do anything right. We didn’t make one stop.”
It was the most rushing yards given up by the Giants since the Buffalo Bills rushed for 366 in 1978.
Seattle played a game of cat and mouse with the football. Marshawn Lynch ran for 140 yards, mostly through the middle of the Giants’ defensive line. Quarterback Russell Wilson, operating a read-option running game behind the line, often kept the ball himself and dashed outside, fooling the defense as he picked up 107 yards on 14 carries. Seattle’s backup running back Christine Michael gained 71 yards on four carries, averaging 17.8 yards per attempt.
“It was like they had the whole field to run,” defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. “We’d go inside, and they’d go outside, and vice versa.”
The Giants had prepared for the Seattle deception, but the Giants’ defenders either overcommitted to Wilson fakes or did not commit soon enough on straightforward runs.
“They ran the same play all day, and still it worked,” Rolle said. “I honestly don’t know what we’re doing wrong. But whatever it is, it isn’t the answer.”
Seattle scored 24 unanswered points in the second half, an offensive explosion that obscured an efficient and resourceful first half by the Giants — the best they had played in more than a month.
The Seahawks scored the game’s first touchdown, but after an interception by Giants cornerback Zach Bowman, the Giants took over at the Seattle 24. Manning, who completed 29 of 44 passes for 283 yards, threw two passes to Beckham for a total of 14 yards and then connected with wide receiver Preston Parker for a 6-yard touchdown that tied the game.
On the Giants’ next possession, Manning started looking frequently for Beckham, who was often working against the stellar cornerback Richard Sherman. Beckham sprinted past Sherman along the sideline on a second-down play, and Manning fired a perfect pass to him for a 44-yard gain.
Two plays later, Manning found Beckham again for 26 yards, putting the Giants at the Seahawks’ 3. The rookie running back Andre Williams bulled into the end zone for a 14-7 Giants lead early in the second quarter. A Josh Brown 41-yard field goal as the first half ended put the Giants ahead, 17-14.
The teams sparred early in the third quarter, and Seattle drew even on a field goal. But Manning confidently moved the Giants from their 20 to the Seattle 39 as the third quarter was nearing its end. He had just thrown to Beckham for 8 yards and a first down when he looked off Donnell and again let the football fly in Beckham’s direction.
“I went late to Odell, and it was just a bad decision — a bad choice by me,” Manning said. “I should have thrown it away.”
Thomas’s interception on the play was one of only two turnovers by the Giants — Seattle had three — but it energized the Seahawks and the crowd at Century Link Field.
“Earl’s interception gave us the spark we needed,” said Wilson, who had to throw just 17 times and completed 10 for 172 yards. “We didn’t really look back after that.”
That is an understatement.
On the go-ahead drive, after Thomas’s long return, Wilson scrambled for 11 yards, and Lynch rumbled for 17 more. Lynch’s 3-yard run for a touchdown, one of four he rushed for in the game, gave Seattle a 24-17 lead.
At this juncture, the Giants, who had some success on the ground in the first half, suddenly could not run the ball. The lack of offensive balance severely limited the validity of their play-action run fakes and ultimately inhibited the passing game.
The Giants’ next series was a three-and-out. Seattle took the ball and roared down the field again, scoring after a seven-play, 53-yard drive that put the game out of reach for the Giants, who trailed by 31-17.
On their next possession, the Giants turned the football over on downs, and soon Wilson was running into the end zone for a 38-17 lead.
Giants Coach Tom Coughlin was not at a loss for words after the game, but he did appear somewhat dumbfounded by the turn of events.
“It’s a four-quarter game,” Coughlin said. “We played well in the first half, and I thought the third quarter was O.K., too. But, you know, you have to play the whole game.”
Asked what expectations he had for his team, Coughlin answered: “We talked about improving this week. We did show improvement. But obviously, there is a lot more work to be done.
“Everyone is going to be disappointed and embarrassed, and rightly so.”
The Giants’ backup running back Peyton Hillis, who has often been relied on for his ability to block on pass plays, left the game in the first half and did not return, because of a concussion. Michael Cox, who replaced Hillis, had a lower leg fracture late in the game and left the locker room in a wheelchair.Tags: car, football, game, show