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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Eli Manning is largely held out of spotlight with holdover Davis Webb not on roster

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At the end of the third quarter, six minutes after the NFL had stopped showing it on television, the New York Giants’ offense came to life. It didn’t take long for the team to bust out one of its most explosive plays of the year. Ereck Flowers, the offensive lineman drafted with the hopes that he would be the Giants’ long-term answer at left tackle, shredded through three Broncos defenders and appeared poised to convert a crucial third down. But his hurry-up snap was high and unnecessary, and quarterback Eli Manning had to take it. His 26-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr. fell incomplete — but only after heavy pressure and a fumble that the Broncos recovered in New York territory.

The Manning-Beckham connection was put to the test Sunday. The receiver gave the Giants hope by catching seven passes for 115 yards, but on the day, New York (1-4) was a decimated team, handing the Broncos a 33-23 victory and extending its franchise-record losing streak to nine games.

For the Giants, who have needed quarterbacks to shine to escape mediocrity and keep their season afloat, it was another step back in what has been a desultory season under Giants coach Pat Shurmur. Manning is behind center now, but for the foreseeable future, his most likely backup is Kyle Lauletta, a rookie who’s played only two games this season. The team’s other quarterback, Davis Webb, is largely held out of the spotlight for now and was not on the roster for Sunday’s game.

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The list of coaches under pressure is long, but on Thursday night, in the early-season meeting between the Ravens and Giants at MetLife Stadium, Shurmur put his own foot down on his own team’s parade downfield. After calling a timeout when his quarterback, Alex Smith, was sacked and the sideline saw little opportunity to react, Shurmur yanked his quarterback — who finished the game 14-for-31 for 126 yards and an interception — and put in Alex Tanney, a former collegiate quarterback who had worked as a backup the last four seasons for NFL teams. As coaches leave themselves open to criticism, they are less likely to bungle the start of their team’s offenses. But who knows when Shurmur will pull another trick out of his hat and name Tanney?

The Ravens (4-1) were great on offense, turning the ball over just once in a dominant performance, but they were often bad on defense. Linval Joseph, one of their key pass rushers, was suspended for the game for what coach John Harbaugh said was a violation of the NFL’s PED policy. The Giants were unable to penetrate the line of scrimmage for more than two-and-a-half quarters. When they finally found some success, rookie running back Saquon Barkley found much success on a 33-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. But the Ravens quickly answered with a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, ending with a go-ahead field goal with 25 seconds remaining in the game. That was it. Even the overtime drives did not go more than five plays, with the Giants snuffing out those opportunities with penalties.

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