From Week 10 of the NFL Season featuring the Washington Commanders at the Philadelphia Eagles from Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 14, 2022. (All-Pro Reels / Joe Glorioso)

When Giants kicker Graham Gano’s 58-yard field goal fell short of the crossbar as time expired in overtime on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, disappointingly ending their game with the Washington Commanders in a 20-20 tie, it made their path to the playoffs much more jagged. 

The Giants started this season an unforeseen and promising 6-1, but are just 1-3-1 in their last five games. At 7-4-1 they are third in the NFC East behind the 11-1 Philadelphia Eagles and 9-3 Dallas Cowboys, and have a slim advantage over the 7-5-1 Commanders. Conversely the Commanders, who began the campaign unable to find their footing going 1-4, have gone 6-1-1 since to put themselves in the thick of the postseason race.

The Giants are currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC and have a tenuous hold on the top wild card spot, with Seattle Seahawks No. 7 at 7-5 and the Commanders the eighth seed. Seven teams from each conference—the other the AFC—make the playoffs. The Giants have a difficult remaining schedule with the Eagles up next this Sunday at MetLife, then a rematch with Washington on the road on Dec. 18 in a Week 15 primetime set that will kickoff at 8:20 p.m. 

The loss to the Commanders on Sunday was a favorable circumstance squandered. The Giants were up 20-13 late in the fourth quarter but Washington executed an eight play, 90-yard drive that culminated with a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Taylor Heinicke to rookie wide receiver Jahan Dotson with 1:45 left in regulation. On the Giants’ next possession the offense, directed by their QB Daniel Jones, failed in giving Gano a closer try than the missed 58-yarder. 

“It was weird, it was my first tie,” said Giants safety Julian Love to the media on Monday. The fourth-year player out of Notre Dame, who was drafted by the Giants in the fourth round in 2019, played a notable 104 snaps versus the Commanders. 

“I don’t know, it just felt like the game just ended,” Love explained. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a situation like that before. I think we put ourselves in a good position for this game…We just didn’t make the plays that needed to be made.
“There were a few out there for us, so if you make one of those, the game goes a different way. We do get another shot. Obviously, we’re still in this thing. The hard work that we’ve put in all season has put us in the position that we still have opportunities in front of us.”

Head coach Brian Daboll’s crew now must figure out how to crack the code of beating the Eagles, who are led by the NFL’s leading MVP candidate, quarterback Jalen Hurts. The 23-year-old was raised in Houston, played his college ball at powerhouses Alabama and Oklahoma, and was one of the top players in the nation but dropped to the second round of the 2020 draft due to doubts about his ability to be a proficient passer. 

Hurts has resoundingly dismissed the skepticism and further quieted the disbelievers in last Sunday’s 35-10 Eagles beatdown of the Tennessee Titans by throwing for 380 yards.

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