6:39 PM ET
- Jordan RaananESPN Staff Writer Close
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Pump the brakes on that illogical playoff talk. Hold off on the idea that the New York Giants offense is fixed.
At least that is obvious after watching them stumble their way through Sunday's 17-0 loss in the steady rain to the Tennessee Titans. It was the second time the Giants were shut out in the span of less than a year. They were also blanked last December in Arizona.
It was the seventh time Manning was shut out as a starting quarterback, tying him with his father Archie for fifth-most all-time, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"Didn't do anything well enough to expect to win," coach Pat Shurmur said. "Didn't make plays. Didn't run the ball. Didn't stay on the field on offense. We had penalties. So, we didn't play well enough there. … If you don't get in the end zone, you can't win."
In this flop, the Giants (5-9) dropped passes, committed penalties and Manning contributed both a costly interception deep in Tennessee territory and an awful fumble deep in his own territory. It was reminiscent of the struggles from earlier this season that contributed greatly to their 1-7 start.
The Giants defense was hardly great, but they kept them in the game most of Sunday. They trailed 7-0 until late in the third quarter when Manning fumbled at his own 10-yard line.
The ugly performance ended any Giants dream of reaching the postseason. The Giants held the slimmest playoff hopes entering Sunday's game, less than 1 percent, according to ESPN analytics. They were officially eliminated from contention with their loss combined with a Minnesota Vikings win against the Miami Dolphins.
"Yeah. Obviously, it hurts. You want to try and make the playoffs, and obviously we didn't play well enough earlier in the year to put ourselves in good position," Manning said. "We knew we still had a chance, if we won out, and obviously didn't play well enough [Sunday], to do that."
It was a total offensive collapse against the Titans (8-6). In recent weeks the Giants had leaned on running back Saquon Barkley and admittedly ran the offense through him. When that didn't work on Sunday with the Titans keyed on the rookie, it all broke down completely. Barkley had 31 yards on 14 carries, including minus-8 in the first quarter. The Giants finished with 260 total yards, with more than a quarter of them coming on their final drive.
There was no Odell Beckham Jr. (he missed his second straight game with a quad injury) to carry the load or ignite the dormant passing game. Manning wasn't capable of putting them on his shoulders, either. He finished 21 of 44 passing for 229 yards with two turnovers.
That put extra attention on Barkley.
"You know, it kind of comes with the territory, especially with me having a lot of success in the run game or just anywhere," Barkley said. "Obviously a lot of teams are going to put focus on stopping, not me as an individual, but our run game because we've been so successful the last five games. Even with that said, we still have to make plays. Teams have kind of been doing that the past couple weeks and we were still able to make plays. [Sunday] we weren't able to do that."
The rain made it a tough afternoon for both offenses. Tennessee's Marcus Mariota finished with 88 yards passing.
"I don't even want to make it about [the rain]," left tackle Nate Solder said. "If you can make plays, it doesn't matter because they made more plays than we did and they didn't say anything about that."
Now with the playoff dream crushed it's all about the future for the Giants with two weeks remaining. Specifically, the future of the quarterback position. Manning's string of five mostly positive outings (10 touchdowns, 2 turnovers) came to an end with this clunker. He'll be 38 in a few weeks, and the Giants need to start making arrangements for their quarterback of the future. It's an inevitability even they've conceded.
How Manning and this offense performs in the final two games against the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys will likely go a long way in deciding how they handle the future of the most important position on their team and perhaps the greatest quarterback in franchise history. The Giants' brass had been encouraged in recent weeks by the direction of the team, but most of the positive results came against inferior competition and backup quarterbacks.
The Titans were the first of three games against teams in playoff contention. It should be a more accurate barometer for the offense. They barely registered a heartbeat in this one, and they hardly appeared fixed.
General manager Dave Gettleman has a lot of work left to do. The offensive line — particularly the right side — still needs tweaking. Tackle Chad Wheeler and guard Jamon Brown struggled again Sunday in pass protection. Brown allowed a sack and committed a penalty.
The line also couldn't open holes for Barkley on a wet afternoon when they needed to lean on the running game. This came after a string of positive results that included four straight 100-yard rushing games from the playmaking rookie. Three of Barkely's seven first-half runs went for no gain or negative yards. His long in the contest was 17 yards.
It left the Giants, once again, without any offensive answers.