EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Sensational rookie running back Saquon Barkley was stuffed repeatedly for the first time in more than a month. Eli Manning had little time to throw, and there was no Odell Beckham Jr. on the field to provide relief.
A week after their best offensive effort in years in a 40-16 win over the Washington Redskins, the New York Giants (5-9) were grounded on a cold, rainy day at MetLife Stadium. The Giants were shut down and out by the Titans 17-0 Sunday in a game that featured Tennessee rushing back Derrick Henry rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
The loss ended the Giants’ faint playoff hopes that stayed alive longer than expected after a 1-7 start.
“Didn’t do anything well enough to expect to win, didn’t make plays, we didn’t run the ball, we didn’t stay on the field on offense, we had penalties, so we didn’t play well enough there,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “I thought on defense, they ran the ball, we didn’t tackle as well as we did in the last few weeks, which extended drives for them, and they beat us.”
What was really surprising was the way the Titans handled Barkley, who came into the game as the NFL’s No. 3 rusher with 1,124 yards and a streak of four straight 100-yards games on the ground.
Tennessee set out to stop Barkley and forced the Giant to pass. It was the perfect strategy.
The Titans held Barkley to 31 yards on 14 carries, with a long run of 17 yards. He caught four passes for 25 yards, giving him 56 total yards from scrimmage, only the second time in 14 games he has been held under 100 yards.
“It’s football,” Barkley said. “That’s what comes with the responsibilities of playing running back. It’s not always going to be there, every play is not going to be a 40-yard gain. You just have to take what they give you. When the opportunity comes, you have to split it and make them pay for it. We didn’t do that today.”
The Giants made mistakes: Manning was sacked three times, hit eight times and turned over the ball twice. The offensive line struggled all day and got hit with too many penalties that created bad down-and-distance situations.
With the Giants down 7-0 early in the second half, New York reached the Titans 18. A hands-to-the-face penalty against Jamon Brown pushed the ball back to the 28, and two plays later Kevin Byard intercepted Manning on third-and-20.
A strip sack by Titans linebacker Kamalei Correa and fumble recovery by tackle Jurrell Casey set up Henry’s second touchdown.
“Give credit to the Tennessee defense,” said Manning, who finished 21 of 44 for 229 yards. “They played well. They did a good job stopping the run on some early downs. The few times we actually got some things going, we had negative plays, we had penalties where we just could not sustain the drives and keep things going. They played well and we didn’t.”
Sterling Shepard, who was targeted nine times and caught two passes for 37 yards, said the conditions were difficult.
“Nothing seemed to go our way and the weather didn’t help at all, either,” Shepard said. “You can’t use that as an excuse. You have to fight through that. Both teams have to do it.”
The Titans (8-6) did, and they are still in the playoff hunt. The Giants are out for the sixth time in seven years. The exception was 2016.
The end this year was not surprising, considering New York opened the season with a 1-7 record.
“There’s nothing that we can do about it now,” linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “We have two weeks left here to finish out the season, so we have to turn our attention to Indy (Indianapolis) next week and get ready to go play.”
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