But Thursday night had plenty of inexcusable mental lapses.
What jumps out, obviously, is the offsides on Dexter Lawrence on what should have been the final play of the night. The game was won — literally. It is rare where we can point to one moment in any game and say “if that didn’t happen, they would have won.”
That was the case, as Dustin Hopkins went wide-right, and it would have been a 29-27 Giants victory.
Nope. Offsides, defense, No. 97. Re-do. Kick is good. Game over. Washington wins.
But it started early on. On the Giants’ second drive of the game, Big Blue had to call a timeout. Right out of it, the Giants scrambled out of the huddle with the play clock dwindling down. Sterling Shepard went in motion from left to right, shrugged at Daniel Jones, and seemed confused.
After the play clock hit zero, Andrew Thomas went to pass block, and was whistled for a false start on what should have been a delay of game.
No one should ever have a delay of game or a false start after a timeout , yet the oh-so-disciplined Giants managed to do both. And by the way, that was two plays after Saquon Barkley broke off a 41-yard run, and all the momentum seemed to be in the Giants’ court.
In the fourth, though, things seemed to unravel.
With the Giants leading 23-20, Jones and the Giants marched once again. Jones found Shepard for 21 yards, Barkley ran for seven, and the Giants got another first down.
Right after the Darius Slayton dropped touchdown (overthrown by a hair, but had to be caught), Barkley took a second-and-10 up the gut for five, putting the Giants in a territory to extend the biggest drive of the game.
But that was immediately followed by a false start by veteran Nate Solder, and then another by Thomas. What was third-and-5 with a chance to waste more clock and get a first down quickly became third and 15. Jones ran for 11 yards to put the Giants just a yard ahead of where they just were and back into field goal range. Graham Gano made it a six-point game, but if that 11-yard run came before the false starts, the Giants would have had first-and-10 at Washington’s 27-yard line with less than five minutes to go.
Football is football — it probably wasn’t the first heated conversation on the sideline in this early year for the Giants, and it won’t be the last. And surely, we have no idea what was said, but one can’t blame Giant fans for being concerned with a $72 million receiver clearly agitated in his second game with the team.
Just a few minutes after that, Washington faced a third-and-5 with 28 seconds to go, and called a timeout after a five-yard Dyami Brown reception — Washington called their third and final timeout to draw up a play.
How did New York respond? By having 13 guys on the field.
Not 12. Thirteen.
Judge was wise enough to see the blatant mistake (after the two extra defenders tried to sprint off the field) and call a timeout to keep Washington, temporarily, out of field goal range by avoiding the penalty.
Of course, it didn’t matter. But the brain-farts after timeouts were certainly eyebrow-raising.
Physical mistakes are going to happen — defenses are going to be picked apart (although it’s happened way more than expected in the Giants’ first eight quarters).
But for a team whose coach is praised for keeping his players in check and ready to play, on a night where Jones might have played the best game of his career, Thursday night was not a good look for Judge and company.