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Giants get much needed win against Ravens to keep up with NFC East

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obj A dark cloud of uncertainty formed over Metlife Stadium last offseason when the New York Giants announced that they would sever ties with head coach Tom Coughlin. A hometown hero, Coughlin engineered two memorable Superbowl seasons for Big Blue, but failure to make the playoffs in the four consecutive seasons following their last Lombardi Trophy prompted the front office to look elsewhere. Giants fans were left with uncertainty, leaving behind a team favorite but nonetheless eager to turn the tables on their losing slate.

Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo stepped in and quickly racked up two wins to start his head coaching career. Sitting at 2-0 to kickoff the season, many forgot all about Coughlin and began to think of what was to come. Quarterback Eli Manning seemed comfortable throwing the ball and rarely turned the ball over, an active offseason had brought new talent to a weak defense and the return of beloved wide receiver Victor Cruz brought hope to all for the season.

Immediately after, the Giants hit a tough stretch. It began in Week 3 when Manning surrendered a series of costly interceptions to the Washington Redskins during the storied face-off between bitter rivals Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman. The Giants had surrendered a big first-half lead over the Redskins. The team had been in scoring position and on the heels of a come-from-behind victory. Manning threw a routine screen pass into the arms of the rookie safety Sua “Suzy” Cravens, which spelled the first loss of the season for New York.

The following week, Big Blue hit the road for their first appearance in the U.S. Bank Stadium, the brand new home of the Minnesota Vikings. Overall, the team was lost on the field and played weakly as they trailed the majority of the game. A surprisingly elite-level Vikings defense effectively neutralized the Giants’ passing game and repeatedly forced them into punting situations. Held to just 10 points, the offense forced the defense on to the field and numerous injuries in the secondary spelled the second loss for Big Blue.

By this time, flashes from the losing past were beginning to haunt the Giants. The team was now sitting at 2-2 and an uncommonly strong NFC East division had the Giants slipping down the standings.

Even more disheartening was the fact that megastar receiver Beckham had yet to find the end-zone since the start of the season. The electrifying product of Louisiana State University and arguably the best receiver in the league, Beckham was overwhelmed with frustration over the lack of production, even citing that he was no longer enjoying football.

Still, the hemorrhaging continued in Week 5 when the team traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The offensive inefficiency continued and again forced the defense into tough situation in which they ultimately faltered. Beckham did find the end zone, scoring for the first time in the season, although it was a lost effort, with the Giants falling to 2-3.

On the edge of breakdown, Big Blue returned home in Week 6 to host the Baltimore Ravens. This was a critical game for the Giants to remain in the divisional mix. The team got off to a shaky start and found itself trailing late in the fourth quarter. On a fourth down and one, the Giants needed to convert or else the game would have ended in their fourth straight loss.

With Beckham flanked wide-right, Manning took the snap and dropped back in search of his favorite receiver. Meanwhile, Beckham exploded off the line and, with a firm plant of his right foot, immediately beat his defender on a textbook slant route. Manning decisively tossed the ball over to Beckham for a sure catch, breathing a sigh of relief that the team would extend the drive and their chances of winning.

But Beckham was not done; with Ravens’ Eric Weddle accidentally taking out his teammate, Beckham swiftly eluded a tackle with his sight set on the end-zone. After-burners at full throttle, Beckham dashed toward the goal line while Metlife Stadium was overcome by a thundering roar of onlookers cheering on their prized receiver. Beckham had converted the fourth and one quick slant into a game, saving 66-yard catch-and-sprint.

Big Blue escaped disaster with a narrow win to advance to 3-3. Had they dropped to 2-4, they would have slipped far behind the pack in the division and locker-room tensions would have began to boil over. The team is still last place in the division, but well within striking distance at just two games behind the top seed currently occupied by Dak Prescott and the resurgent Dallas Cowboys.

The Giants are traveling to London to take on the Los Angeles Rams for a special Week 7 edition of Thursday Night Football on Sunday at 9 a.m. Despite a tough start of the season, the Rams have since fought back to beat many of the league’s strongholds thus far into the season. The Giants cannot keep relying on late-game heroics to win games and ultimately make the playoffs. If they wish to advance this season, they must play smash-mouth football during all four quarters on both sides of the ball.

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