Despite 0-3 start, Giants a game out in woeful NFC East

NFL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)Based on recent history, it would be easy to look at the New York Giants’ winless start and write them off.

Since the 1981 season, only six NFL teams have overcome an 0-3 start to make the playoffs. The Houston Texans were the most recent do it, turning things around two years ago.

Before that, it was the Buffalo Bills in 1998. The others are the Lions in ’95, the Chargers in `92, the Bucs in ’82 and the Jets the year before.

Bottom line, it’s not easy. It might even be harder for the Giants under new coach Joe Judge. New York is a rebuilding team that won 12 games over the past three seasons and its performance Sunday in a 36-9 loss to the depleted San Francisco 49ers was pitiful.

However, there is something working in the Giants’ favor. They play in the NFC East, the worst division in the league. The winless start leaves New York a game behind Dallas and Washington, who share the division lead with 1-2 records. Philadelphia (0-2-1) is a half-game behind them.

New York created some hope for this season with a dramatic comeback in Week 2. The Giants rallied from a 17-0 deficit against the Bears and came within 10 yards of winning on the final play, losing 17-13.

This past week was a couple of giant steps back.

Judge isn’t looking at either the schedule or the standings, noting there are 13 games to be played. He said every team is looking at the same thing on Mondays. Problems have to be fixed, even for the 3-0 teams.

”It’s not sunshine and raisins,” Judge said. ”These Mondays are always a day where it’s a tough day for everybody. All you can think of as a coach (is) what you have to get better at. It doesn’t matter the result of the game or how well or how disappointing something may have been. You just focus (on) what you have to correct and basically going fast.”

Judge said he is trying to keep things simple so the Giants can improve every week.

WHAT’S WORKING

Special teams was the lone bright spot. Graham Gano hit all three of his field goal attempts and Riley Dixon had a 54-yard gross and net on his only punt. Corey Ballentine needs to be a little more selective on his kickoff returns. He averaged 17.3 yards, returning some kicks that had good hang times.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Other than quarterback Daniel Jones, the running game is nonexistent. Jones had 49 of the Giants’ 66 yards Sunday. It was the third consecutive game in which New York rushed for 75 or fewer yards. Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis combined for 17 yards on 10 carries. The offensive line rarely gets a push.

”We don’t want to go out there and lose,” center Nick Gates said. ”We don’t want to go out there and not run the ball. We’re not trying to go out there and play bad. We practice every week, we go to work every week. We put a lot of effort and a lot of work into going out there and learning the defense. It is frustrating when you go out there and you can’t run the ball and you can’t protect well. It’s frustrating.”

STOCK UP

No one. The offense did not run a play in the red zone. The defense gave up points on every 49ers possession except the one that ended with a missed field goal after a problem on the snap-hold connection. The ninth possession ended the game.

STOCK DOWN

Judge. Granted, it’s only his third game and this organization has been bad for seven of the last eight seasons. However, he takes the hit for not having his team ready against a club missing at least eight starters. He might have gotten a slide if he admitted it was a bad performance instead of ignoring the obvious and saying he has to look at the film.

INJURED

Safety Jabrill Peppers had a lower leg injury on the first series. The timetable for his return is uncertain, Judge said Monday. Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas left the field for two plays in the fourth quarter but is fine. Linebacker David Mayo is ready to return from injured reserve and Judge is going to look at him this week.

KEY NUMBER

20:16 – The Giants’ time of possession against the 49ers. It was their lowest since Dec. 24, 2006, when they owned the ball for 19:26 in a loss to New Orleans.

NEXT STEPS

Another NFC West opponent but this time on the other coast. The Giants head to Los Angeles to face the Rams, who had a rally came up short against the Bills in Buffalo.

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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