Odell Beckham Jr. returned but he was unable to prevent the New York Giants from suffering a 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions in the NFL.
Both teams and their respective offensive lines struggled during the clash at MetLife Stadium on Monday as Giants star Beckham made his return from an ankle injury.
Detroit's Greg Robinson was penalised three times, with two accepted penalties, and was a big reason Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was under constant pressure.
Stafford was sacked just twice, thanks to his mobility, but Robinson especially struggled against Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon, who had five tackles.
Stafford lost a fumble on one sack and finished with 122 passing yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-21 passing.
As much trouble as Robinson had with the Giants defensive front, he looked like a Pro Bowler compared to Ereck Flowers.
Lions pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah ran through Flowers like he was a turnstile en route to three sacks. Detroit dropped Giants quarterback Eli Manning five times and hit him an additional eight times with just a four-man rush.
Manning turned in a game effort by going 22 of 32 for 239 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Ansah, in his fifth season out of BYU, was a one-man wrecking crew and lived in the backfield on Monday. Ansah was a Pro Bowler in 2015 with 14.5 sacks, but had just two last season. He surpassed his 2016 total in Monday's win alone. It was almost always at the expense of Flowers.
As much as the offensive lines struggled, it was a special teams play that broke the game open. Lions rookie Jamal Agnew, a fifth-round pick from San Diego, returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown to give the Lions a 24-10 lead with 12:56 remaining.
"We're the underdogs. We have put it on ourselves to go out and play as hard as we can," Ansah told ESPN following the game. "It doesn't matter who is lined up across from us.
"It was all about defense and special teams, getting a big return, and the offense played well."
The Los Angeles Rams selected Robinson with the second overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but gave up on him after a league-high 35 penalties in three seasons. He was traded to the Lions in June for a sixth-round draft pick, but a change of scenery has not done much to improve Robinson's play. He was supposed to provide depth in Detroit, but was forced into a starting role following a shoulder injury to Taylor Decker.
Flowers was also a first-round pick, taken ninth overall in 2015, but has not developed into an NFL-calibre left tackle. The Giants could consider moving him to right tackle, but they also do not have a better option for left tackle with guard Justin Pugh having to finish Monday's game at right tackle because of an injury to Bobby Hart.
After just 97 combined rushing yards and 13 points in two losses, it is clear something must be done up front.
It might be time for the Lions and Giants to give up on both first-round busts. If they stubbornly stick with them, it might cost them a playoff berth — or worse, an injury to their star quarterbacks.
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