EAST RUTHERFORD — MetLife Stadium began emptying with just over six minutes to go early Sunday night.
All that was left by the time the Giants trudged off the field was a loud orange-clad Broncos contingent in the stands at the end of another frustrating loss to start their season.
Broncos 27, Giants 13.
For the fifth straight year, with three different head coaches on the sideline and an array of different faces suiting up and enduring the pain and embarrassment, the Giants watched a similar script play out in their home building, and it was hard to stomach.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s tough, man,” Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. “Like Coach [Joe] Judge said, these people pay their hard-earned money to come see winning football. That’s what this franchise is all about is winning, that’s what the history’s been all about. So, it’s been frustrating the past few years, I understand the frustration, we’re not happy about it as well. We’ve got to dig our cleats in the ground, we’ve got to get the fans what they want. Yeah, it’s frustrating, I hate seeing them having to leave the game early. That’s something that, like, I honestly really notice. I’m locked into the game, but you can’t help but see people lined up in the tunnel. It’s no fun seeing that.”
The Giants (0-1) reached the end zone for a second time Sunday as time expired when Daniel Jones ran for a touchdown on the game’s final play. The soundtrack that played on the heels of that cosmetic score included cheers from the Denver faithful, who witnessed their team win a September game for the first time in eight tries.
“We have to earn the fans’ respect,” Judge said. “It’s not their job to show up and cheer just to cheer. Their job is to be entertained.”
The Eagles were the only team in the NFC East to win Sunday – and many picked Philadelphia to finish in the basement this season. As Judge indicated afterward Sunday, the Giants wake up Monday morning and it’s essentially a Thursday in the NFL landscape in terms of preparation for their next game: Thursday night against Washington at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
“In this league, you have to be able to throw things away really quick and move on,” Shepard said. “If you let it dwell and you keep thinking about it, then you’re not able to move on and move past it. So, guys got to be able to throw it away.”
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Washington lost a game to the Chargers on Sunday, its starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a hip injury and its best running back Antonio Gibson to a shoulder injury. Gibson returned, but now he’ll deal with a short week in order to get healthy.
The Giants have not lost to Washington, the defending NFC East champion, with Daniel Jones at quarterback. They’re going to spend the next four days hearing about how bad they played against the Broncos, how nothing’s changed from last year and how daunting the challenge will be to go on the road on a short week and win a game they need to have.
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Like it or not, the Giants have earned that criticism.
Only they have the power to change the narrative they have created.
Two weeks from Sunday, they’ll return to MetLife for a celebration of Eli Manning and a second chance to make a better impression on the home fans.
There’s one path to making sure they stay in the stadium until the game’s final whistle.
“We have to play better,” Judge said. “We have to coach better to put our players in position to make more plays.”
Art Stapleton is the Giants beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Giants analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and sign up for our NFC East newsletter.
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NY Giants must ‘earn fans’ respect’ with way they play