Eli Manning (220534)

Seize the moment. The Giants were positioned to deposit Washington into a deep and perhaps lasting hole this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Their longtime NFC East opponent came into New Jersey 0-2 and reeling, accompanied by media reports that some of Washington’s offensive players weren’t completely sold on their fifth-year quarterback’s—Kirk Cousins—ability to equitably and efficiently distribute the football to the unit’s talented receivers, tight-ends and running backs.  

Conversely, the Giants were undefeated and set up to raise their record to 3-0 with two division wins in their first three games, having beaten the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. But instead of seizing on Washington’s seeming discord and their own favorable circumstances, sending their previously winless adversary back to the nation’s capital 0-3, the Giants perpetrated repeated self-inflicted wounds, incurring 11 penalties for 128 yards and committing three damaging turnovers, the costliest being quarterback Eli Manning throwing an interception with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter as they were driving for a potential game-winning score.

The result was a 29-27 Giants loss at home, dropping them to 2-1, with their next two games on the road versus two of the best teams in the NFC, beginning with the 3-0 Minnesota Vikings this Monday (8:30 p.m.), followed by the Green Bay Packers (2-1) Oct. 9 (8:30 p.m.). Conceivably, what started as a very promising opening to the season for the Giants could quickly devolve into an urgent battle to avoid dipping to the bottom half of the conference standings.

“When you get penalties and you get a player ejected, that’s not good,” said Manning, referring to center Weston Richburg, who was ejected in the fourth quarter after being flagged for his second unsportsmanlike penalty in the game. “We’re not doing our job. We can’t afford to do that. We can’t afford to get out of our zone. When we’re doing good things, when we’re playing and we got an opportunity to extend the lead and I don’t know what happened.”

“Yeah, it’s disappointing,’’ said head coach Ben McAdoo. “We need to be better than that, and we are better than that. We’re going to address it this week and we’re going to fix it.”

The Vikings, after losing their starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, in training camp this summer to a season-ending knee injury and star running back Adrian Peterson to a knee injury in Week 2 that will sideline him indefinitely, have emerged as one the league’s most resilient and balanced teams.