EditorsNote: fixing Beckham receiving yards to 36, instead of 34 in 25th graph
Stafford’s two TD passes help Lions beat Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — On a night when the New York Giants honored their 2007 Super Bowl championship team at halftime, the current Giants once again looked like chumps.
Detroit rookie Jamal Agnew returned a punt 88 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown, and Matthew Stafford threw two touchdown passes to help the Lions earn a 24-10 win over New York on Monday night at Met Life Stadium.
Agnew’s punt return, the fifth longest in team history, broke open the game. The touchdown gave the Lions (2-0) a 14-point lead.
“We put this game on me,” said Giants coach Ben McAdoo, who saw his team flop not just on special teams but on offense and defense as well while falling to 0-2.
“We talk about playing complete, complementary football, but by no stretch of the imagination did we get that done tonight. We put ourselves in a hole. We have to find a way to get better and better in a hurry.”
Stafford finished 15 of 21 for 122 yards with no interceptions. Both his touchdown passes came on third-and-long plays in the first half and gave his team a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Giants, who have now gone eight consecutive games scoring fewer than 20 points, got a third-quarter, 25-yard field goal by kicker Aldrick Rosas, cutting the deficit to 17-10.
New York might have had more on that possession, but after driving all the way to the Lions 1-yard line, the Giants had a series of miscues that began with left guard Brett Jones being flagged for holding.
The Giants made up most of the penalty yardage, getting back to the 2-yard line, but on fourth down with the offense prepared to go for it, quarterback Eli Manning was flagged for a delay-of-game penalty. That led to the field goal.
New York did have opportunities to keep it closer but failed to cash in.
In the second quarter, the defense forced and then recovered a fumble by Stafford, who was sacked and stripped of the ball by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. But on the ensuing possession, the Giants gave the ball right back to the Lions when Manning’s pass intended for Evan Engram was picked off by Tahir Whitehead.
The biggest missed opportunity for the Giants came in the fourth quarter. Receiver Brandon Marshall, who had his man beat on a long pass that would have put the Giants deep into Lions territory, dropped the ball. After the Giants failed to extend that drive, Agnew scored his punt-return touchdown.
“That was the biggest play of the game,” Marshall said of his drop. “I got an opportunity to make a big play and change the momentum, and I lost it.”
Marshall said that he lost the ball momentarily in the stadium lights.
“It was a perfect pass and I beat the guy,” he said. “I knew the ball was coming but lost it in the light and then I picked it back up and I dropped it when it came down.
“That can’t happen. When you get a big opportunity in a big game like this, in that situation when you’re down and you have an opportunity to go down the field and score, that can’t happen.”
Stafford, who was 12 of 17 for 107 yards at the half, connected with tight end Eric Ebron on a 7-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. The drive was set up when by the Whitehead interception.
Manning finished 22 of 32 for 239 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Ebron was Detroit’s leading receiver, catching all five of his first-half pass targets for 42 yards and a touchdown. He did not have any receptions in the second half.
The Lions also managed to sack Manning five times, three of which were recorded by defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who abused Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers.
“I think anytime you end up getting that kind of pressure and getting five sacks against a very explosive offense with weapons they have, it’s a good thing,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “We were not only able to get pressure consistently, but push the pocket, but they’re a tough team to handle.”
Stafford praised his defensive teammates for making his job easier this week.
“They’re doing a heck of a job,” Stafford said. “Getting after the quarterback a bunch, shutting down the run early and creating turnovers and close on a couple more. Guys made big-time plays.”
The Lions’ first score of the game came in the first quarter when Stafford avoided pressure by New York’s defensive front and gained 13 yards up the middle. Three plays later, Stafford hit receiver Marvin Jones for a 27-yard TD and a 7-0 lead.
Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was active after recovering from an ankle injury, had a quiet game, finishing with four catches for 36 yards.
Meanwhile, Engram caught New York’s lone touchdown pass, that coming in the first half. However, he then hurt his team when he drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty following the score, a mistake that was further exacerbated by a Rosas kickoff that went out of bounds.
Lions kicker Matt Prater nailed a 56-yard field goal with 45 seconds left in the half, the ball hitting the cross bar and bouncing over.
The Giants will head out to the road for the next two weeks, starting with a trip down the turnpike to visit the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1). The Lions will be home in Week 3 to host the Atlanta Falcons (2-0).
NOTES: Giants starting RT Bobby Hart, who came into the game with an injured ankle, lasted two plays before having to leave the game. Justin Pugh moved from left guard to right tackle, and Brett Hones replaced Pugh at left guard. The last time Pugh played at tackle was in Week 17 of the 2015 season, when then-starting RT Marshall Newhouse was injured. ... With the touchdown catch by Eric Ebron in the second quarter, the Lions now have as many touchdown receptions by tight ends (one) as they did in the entire 2016 season. ... Lions DE Ziggy Ansah, who recorded three sacks, now has seven career regular-season games in which he has recorded multiple sacks. Ansah also had multiple sacks in the NFC wild-card game last year.