Perhaps the pre-game music going through Geno Smith’s Bose headphones was Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”
Today was a chance for Smith to prove he’s weathered the early-career storm and show he has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Whether that will be for the Giants or another team, Smith showed up in Oakland with a lot to prove.
The last time Smith started a game before today against the Oakland Raiders, he tore his ACL. Prior to that, he had gone through a turbulent career with the Jets mired by off-field issues and often shaky on-field play.
Of course, Karl Joseph and Bruce Irvin–in particular–might have something to say about that.
The Giants came to Oakland amid a swarm of rumors that head coach Ben McAdoo could get fired within 24 hours of the conclusion of this game. Rumors that he had lost the locker room have circulated almost since Week 1, and his handling of the quarterback switch this week only continued to drive nails in the coffin.
That McAdoo had lost this team showed early with the Giants defense giving up a 51-yard touchdown run to Marshawn Lynch on the Raiders’ first offensive possession of the game. Through the first two drives for the Giants with Geno Smith at QB, they had a net of -1 yards. Two three-and-outs. The team had positive yards after the third drive, but still went three-and-out.
It wasn’t until the fourth drive of the game that the Giants achieved their first first down and found a groove. Then another from a 15-yard pass from Smith. Then another 29-yarder to place the Giants in the Red Zone. Geno led the Giants on an 11 play, 74 yard drive capped off with a Darkwa rushing TD to tie the game up 7-7. Smith was 6/10 passing for 63 yards at the end of the first.
And then Bruce Irvin happened.
One Achilles heel for the Giants this season has been offensive line play (a theme Smith is familiar with). On the next series, Bruce Irvin came around the outside and swatted the ball out of Smith’s hand. The Raiders recovered and converted a field goal to make it 10-7.
Geno Smith. Geno FUCKING Smith. pic.twitter.com/WfCGfgDUhg
— Lester, The Writer (@TheLesterLee) December 3, 2017
Then, near the end of the half with the Giants having the ball deep in Oakland territory, the line collapsed around Smith and, not to be outdone, Khalil Mack performed a strip-sack on Smith.
Late in the game, Smith led the Giants on a long 9 play, 88 yard drive culminating in a 10-yard TD pass to Evan Engram. That brought the Giants to within three points, but the Raiders answered with a quick 4-play touchdown drive to put the game away.
Although there were different quarterbacks for the Giants and the offenses played different, the results were the same. Coming into the game, the Giants had the third-fewest pass plays of 20 yards or more. With Smith, they had three today.
Smith finished 21-of-34 for 212 yards, two turnovers, and a touchdown pass.
Was it enough to earn Smith a start next week? Perhaps.
Rookie third-round pick Davis Webb stayed close to Eli Manning throughout the game analyzing the play calls. Although Webb was inactive today, McAdoo said that the rookie out of Cal would get his chance at some point this season. Having real-time tutelage from a future Hall-of-Famer could go a long way in getting him ready for action.
Bruce Irvin had one of his stronger games of the season, finishing with 8 tackles and one sack. Karl Joseph pitched in 5 tackles.