The Oakland Raiders spoiled the first start in the Geno Smith era, sending the New York Giants to a 24-17 defeat in Oakland on Sunday afternoon.
The loss concludes likely the most controversial week the Giants have had in years, as the benching of Eli Manning in favor of Smith was still fresh on everyone’s minds.
Further controversy was added prior to kickoff, when a report by ESPN surfaced that head coach Ben McAdoo would be let go after the game. As of press time, these rumors have yet to be fulfilled.
Smith, to his credit, had a solid statistical day under center for the Giants, whose 17 points was their most since their last visit to the Bay Area, the November 12 visit to San Francisco that ended in a 31-21 loss. He ended the day 21-for-34 with 212 yards and a touchdown, additionally adding 13 yards on a trio of attempts on the ground.
He also got tight end Evan Engram back into the fold, finding the tight end seven times for 99 yards on the afternoon. Engram concluded the day with an eventful fourth quarter, grabbing his sixth touchdown of the season to trim an Oakland lead to 17-14.
After Oakland went 68 yards on a four play drive to reestablish a 10-point margin, Engram made a spectacular one-handed grab to keep the Giants’ hopes alive, with the drive concluding on Aldrick Rosas’s career-long 52-yard field goal.
WATCH: Evan Engram makes a one-handed catch late in the game pic.twitter.com/PKmGSDDJZC
— New York Giants (@Giants) December 4, 2017
However, a pair of second quarter Smith gaffes doomed the Giants (2-10). With the game deadlocked in a 7-7 stalemate for a majority of the first half, two ill-timed Smith fumbles prevented the Giants from sustaining momentum.
The truly deadly error came in the late stages of the first half, with the team gifted optimal field position in Oakland territory.
Fullback Shane Smith wouldn’t even allow Raiders punter Marquette King get a boot from his own nine off, bringing him down immediately to set his offense up. Geno Smith’s fumble, however, came two players later, the ball simply taken from grasp by Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) December 3, 2017
The ill-timed turnovers, linebacker Bruce Irvin being the other lucky recipient, wasted a strong defensive performance in the early going.
After an egregious opening mistake, allowing a 51-yard score by running back Marshawn Lynch, the defense cracked down on a depleted Oakland offense, missing Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to a respective injury and suspension.
The Giants forced Oakland into a trio of three-and-outs, a fumble forced by new cornerback Brandon Dixon, and the second career sack for linebacker Calvin Munson.
However, the Raiders (6-6) officially wore them down, putting in a pair of touchdowns to bury the Giants in the final frame.
Running back DeAndre Washington put one in from nine yards out, while quarterback Derek Carr’s nine yard scoring throw to receiver Johnny Holton countered Engram’s score. Carr ended the day with 287 yards.
The Giants earned their other touchdown late in the first quarter, as running back Orleans Darkwa punched it in from a yard out. It was a rare silver lining on a tough day for Darkwa, who wound up with 32 yards on 14 carries.
The Giants will return to action next Sunday, taking on the divisional rival Dallas Cowboys (1:00 PM, FOX). Whether Ben McAdoo will be the coach remains to be seen.