Giants pushed to brink in 33-14 loss to Ravens

The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants picked a

terrible time to play their worst football of the season, and now

they’re on the brink of missing the playoffs.

A 33-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday left New York in

a desperate position heading into the final week of the season.

”The next game, if it’s our last, whatever happens, we just

want to leave with pride,” running back Ahmad Bradshaw said.

It’s come down to that for the Giants (8-7), who fell out of a

tie atop the NFC East with their fifth loss in seven games. New

York was coming off a 34-0 defeat at Atlanta, and this one was

almost as ugly.

”You saw the scoreboard,” quarterback Eli Manning said. ”It

wasn’t real pretty, but that’s what can happen in football.”

The Giants gave up a whopping 533 yards and gained only 186.

Baltimore had the ball for 39 minutes, 21 seconds compared to 20:39

for New York.

”Obviously we have a bad formula going on right here,” Giants

coach Tom Coughlin said. ”We’re having trouble stopping people and

our offense doesn’t hold the ball at all to give the defense a

chance to catch their breath. We’ve had two games in a row, pretty

much the exact same scenario.”

Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns for the Ravens

(10-5), who ended a three-game losing streak and secured their

second straight division crown.

”It feels good,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said in the upbeat

locker room. ”I’m just glad we finally got it done.”

The Ravens led 24-7 at halftime and cruised to the finish behind

a short-handed defense that sacked Manning three times and limited

him to 150 yards passing.

The victory assured the Ravens of a home playoff game in the

first weekend of January.

”We know what’s at stake. We want the AFC championship and it

starts tonight,” safety James Ihedigbo said. ”Playoffs started

for us. We’re not looking at regular season. Playoffs started for

us and we’re going to keep on playing.”

Flacco rebounded from a stretch in which he committed two

turnovers in each of Baltimore’s three straight defeats. He

completed 25 of 36 passes, ran for a score and did not throw an

interception or lose a fumble.

He repeatedly picked on New York cornerback Corey Webster, who

couldn’t contain Smith or Anquan Boldin. Smith caught five passes

for 88 yards and a touchdown, and Boldin finished with seven

receptions for 93 yards.

Backup Bernard Pierce ran for 123 yards as part of a running

attack that generated 224 yards.

New York will need a win over Philadelphia next week and help

from other teams to squeeze into the postseason.

”I feel badly for everyone in that locker room because they

can’t turn this thing around either,” Coughlin said. ”What has

happened over the course of the last couple of weeks is very

difficult to explain. We just don’t look like a well-oiled machine

offensively at all.”

Said Manning: ”We knew we had to play our best football at the

end of the season to get into the playoffs and we haven’t done

that. When you’re not playing your best, teams can come out and

embarrass you.”

Baltimore’s first drive ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from

Flacco to Smith. The play came after officials overturned a fumble

by Jacoby Jones at the New York 5 following a replay review.

The 73-yard drive featured a few new wrinkles from the Ravens’

offense, most notably an option pitch from Flacco to Rice and

third-string running back Anthony Allen’s first catch of the

season, a first-down grab at the New York 40.

After the Giants went three-and-out for a second straight time,

Smith made an outstanding catch behind Webster for a 43-yard gain

and Flacco scored from the 1.

Manning followed with a four-play, 77-yard drive highlighted by

a 43-yard completion to Rueben Randle and a 14-yard touchdown run

by David Wilson.

That, however, would be the extent of the New York offense until

Domenik Hixon caught a 13-yard touchdown pass with 3:18 left. After

scoring 52 against New Orleans on Dec. 9, the Giants have totaled

only 14 points in the past two weeks.

”All we can do is go out and get back to playing better

football,” Manning said.

The Ravens went up 17-7 midway through the second quarter. After

Boldin hurt Webster for 39-yard gain on a third-and-19, a replay

erased a 9-yard touchdown catch by Jacoby Jones and forced

Baltimore to settle for a field goal.

Late in the half, the Ravens moved 76 yards in seven plays for a

24-7 lead. Flacco went 5 for 5 for 68 yards, including a 27-yard

touchdown pass to Rice.

Baltimore opted for ball control in the second half, and the

Giants were powerless to stop them. After an exchange of punts at

the start of the third quarter, the Ravens moved 82 yards in 16

plays, holding the ball for just short of eight minutes, before

Justin Tucker kicked a 20-yard field goal.

The lead became 30-7 with 11:08 left when Tucker concluded a

13-play, 62-yard drive with a 30-yard field goal.

Tucker added his fourth field goal after a 78-yard run by Pierce

moved the ball to the New York 1.

NOTES: Flacco has thrown for a career-high 3,783 yards this

season. … New York defensive linemen Marvin Austin and Chris

Canty both left with knee injuries. … Boldin hurt his shoulder in

the third quarter and did not return. … Baltimore has won 10

straight regular-season home finales and has 13 consecutive home

victories over NFC foes. … It was only the fifth time in 47 games

that New York did not force a turnover.

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