The Giants got the kickoff at home on Sunday night and advanced to the Dallas Cowboys’ 8-yard line in nine plays. What a start to the season!
What a start indeed. Graham Gano’s field goal try was blocked and returned for a touchdown by the Cowboys’ Noah Igbinoghene. The reversal seemed somehow to bless Dallas and curse the Giants. After 60 minutes, the Giants had scored 0 points, and the visiting Cowboys had scored 40.
“We got beat all the way around, from coaching to playing,” Giants Coach Brian Daboll said. “Don’t sugarcoat it, it was a bad game,” he added, showing a keen ability to read a scoreboard.
Daniel Jones passed for only 104 yards for the Giants, had two interceptions and two fumbles (both were recovered) and was sacked seven times. Saquon Barkley could do little to help: He managed only 51 yards on 12 carries.
Dallas took a 26-0 halftime lead without even putting together a long touchdown drive, instead scoring on the blocked field goal return, a field goal, an interception return, another field goal and a 38-yard drive following another pick. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had only 143 yards passing. He didn’t need any more and could have won the game with far less.
It was the fifth lowest passing total for a team winning by 40 or more points. (In 2005, the Seattle Seahawks defense overwhelmed the Philadelphia Eagles by 42-0, while Matt Hasselbeck passed for 98 yards for the winners.)
Coming off a 9-7-1 playoff season, the Giants were not necessarily expected to win the N.F.C. East. But they also weren’t expected to be flat-out bad. And they were on Sunday night.
“This wasn’t our best game, there’s no doubt about it,” Jones said. On the plus side, it also was not their worst.
As awful as it seemed, the game was not the biggest shutout loss for the Giants. That was a 45-0 shellacking in 1948 against the Eagles. “The New York Football Giants had little going for them today,” The Times sports section helpfully pointed out the next morning.
But among games in Week 1, when hopes tend to be high even for the most pessimistic fan bases, it was the worst for the Giants and fifth worst overall.
If there is a sign of hope for the Giants, and their fans might need an electron microscope to spot one today, it might be found in history. Two of the four teams with worse opening week shutout losses ended up having good seasons.
Bad can still portend bad, of course: The 1954 Baltimore Colts, who lost to the Los Angeles Rams in their first game by 48-0, ended up 3-9, and the 1999 Cleveland Browns, who lost by 43-0 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, finished 2-14.
But the 1989 Steelers rebounded from a 51-0 loss to the Browns to finish 9-7, and in 1991 Detroit lost by 45-0 to Washington but finished 12-4. Both those teams won a playoff game as well. (The Lions have not won one since.)
As bad as Sunday was, it was far from the worst shutout loss in N.F.L. regular season history. That came in 1934 when a team called the Cincinnati Reds lost to the Eagles, 64-0.
The Reds were kicked out of the league after that game and never played again. Say what you want about the Giants’ effort on Sunday night, but they will line up in Arizona to face the Cardinals next Sunday.