2017-12-03 22:20:04
Raiders 24, Giants 17: Giants Stay Cold Against Raiders as Eli Manning Warms the Bench

22:20, December 03 56 0

In the Giants’ first change at quarterback in more than 13 years, the team’s offense, now led by Geno Smith, looked slightly more potent than it had in recent weeks. But in the end, it was yet another loss in an unraveling season as the Giants fell to the Oakland Raiders, 24-17.

Smith, who became the first quarterback not named Eli Manning to start for the Giants since Nov. 14, 2004, and the first black starting quarterback in franchise history, completed 21 of 34 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown. But he was far from flawless, losing two fumbles — one of which squandered a tremendous scoring opportunity at the end of the first half that could have given the Giants a lead going into halftime.

The uneven performance by Smith punctuated a difficult week for the Giants, which culminated with rumors this weekend that Coach Ben McAdoo’s job could be in jeopardy.

McAdoo’s decision to bench Manning and replace him with Smith had spurred head-scratching and criticism from fans and former teammates all week, and the team’s ownership second-guessing how the announcement had been handled. And according to Manning’s father, Archie Manning, it devastated Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl M.V.P., and prompted him to consider retirement if he remained with the Giants going into next year.

“There’s no sense speculating,” Archie Manning said in an NFL.com story published Sunday morning. “If he’s still there, we don’t know what their future plans are, if other people are there. And you have no idea what other teams will think of a 37-year-old quarterback. You don’t have any idea.

“Eli might say, ‘I’ve had enough. I’m feeling good. I’ve got a beautiful wife, three little girls, I’m healthy. And that’s it.’ So there’s no sense speculating.”

Asked about retirement after the game, Manning did not entertain the notion, saying he plans to play next season.

For all that consternation, Smith delivered at best a mild kick-start to the team’s offense, which finished with 265 total yards. He appeared to have a good rapport with the team’s young, standout tight end, Evan Engram, and had a 46-yard completion to Sterling Shepard. But Smith managed to move the ball effectively on just three of the Giants’ 12 possessions despite facing a weak Oakland defense, and the Giants punted seven times.

Smith did manage to end the Giants’ streak of 26 possessions without a touchdown, but when the game’s crucial moment came at the end of the first half, Smith could not take advantage.

The Raiders had stalled on a drive while trying to run out the clock, and Marquette King came in to punt with 45 seconds remaining in the half. But protection broke down around King, who held onto the ball as he was hit by Shane Smith for an 11-yard loss, setting the Giants up on Oakland’s 9-yard line.

A penalty moved the Giants up another 5 yards, tantalizingly close to a touchdown that would have given them a lead entering halftime. But Khalil Mack, the N.F.L.’s reigning defensive player of the year, ended the threat on second down by sacking Smith and tearing the ball out of his hands as he brought the quarterback to the ground.

The second half was more of the same. Smith led one impressive touchdown drive, going 88 yards on seven plays and finishing things off with a 10-yard pass to Engram in the end zone. And with less than 5 minutes remaining in the game, he took the team 46 yards, helped along by a beautiful one-handed grab for a 22-yard reception by Engram. But that drive ultimately stalled, and the Giants settled for a 52-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas.

Engram was by far the star of the game for the Giants, with seven receptions for 99 yards. Orleans Darkwa had 32 yards on 14 carries and scored the team’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run.

The Giants’ defense, which has been a huge part of the problem in their 2-10 start to the season, had encouraging moments but allowed 401 yards of offense, including a 51-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch on the opening drive of the game in which the veteran running back managed to outsprint the entire Giants defense into the end zone even though he finished the play limping after taking an awkward cut.

Lynch finished the day with 17 carries for 101 yards and one touchdown, while Raiders quarterback Derek Carr completed 22 of 36 passes for 287 yards and one touchdown.

The Giants head home to host the Dallas Cowboys next week, no doubt accompanied by questions around their coaching and quarterback situations.