EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The way the Cleveland Browns had been scoring, coach Joe Judge must have had a feeling the New York Giants probably needed to take advantage of their scoring chances playing with a backup quarterback and play caller.
So they gambled and came up short in a 20-6 loss to the red-hot Browns on Sunday night.
It not only cost them a game and a chance to go back into first place in the weak NFC East, the chances of the Giants (5-9) making the playoffs are getting slimmer with two games left in the regular season.
It all goes back to the Giants' first three possessions with Colt McCoy starting at quarterback instead of the injured Daniel Jones and former Browns coach Freddie Kitchens calling plays on offensive with coordinator Jason Garrett sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19. The Giants got into the red zone three times and came away with three points.
It was par for a team that has now scored 13 points in its last two games.
On the opening drive of the game, the Giants got to the Browns 8. On fourth down and 5, Judge sent out his field goal team and used a trick play. Before the snap, the line and kicker Graham Gano shifted, leaving center Nick Gates eligible. Holder and punter Riley Dixon took the snap in the weird formation but his pass to a well covered Gates in the middle of the end zone fell incomplete.
A field goal by Gano gave New York a 3-0 lead on the second series, but the Browns took the lead on a 2-yard pass from Baker Mayfield to Austin Hooper.
The Giants drove 68 yards on their next series and had a fourth-and-2 at the Browns 6. Instead of closed the deficit to a point, Judge elected to go for a first down and Wayne Gallman came up a yard short.
Mayfield then drove the Browns 95 yards in 10 plays, capping the march with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry for a 13-3 lead. The extra point hit the upright.
The Giants never threatened again in losing their second straight.
They had a chance to go into first place because Washington (6-8) lost to Seattle.
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