Giants Fail on Playoff-Clinching Opportunity against Eagles
It was simple for the Giants. Win and you’re in. It was easier said than done, as the Giants (10-5) failed to capitalize on the opportunity, losing to the rival Philadelphia Eagles (6-9) 24-19.
The Giants entered Thursday Night Football in Philadelphia with their brand new Color Rush uniforms, paying homage to their retro white uniforms from the 80’s and 90’s, even bringing back the old “GIANTS” helmets. Big Blue knew that a victory would seal a playoff spot. Things did not go the way the Giants had expected.
The Giants had found themselves in a 21-6 deficit late in the second quarter. The Eagles had scored on a 25-yard Darren Sproles run, a pick-six from safety Malcolm Jenkins, and a 40-yard touchdown reception from Nelson Agholor. Starting on their own 16-yard line, quarterback Eli Manning would work the offense down the field. On their twelfth play, Manning would complete a 13-yard touchdown pass to receiver Sterling Shepard to pull the Giants within eight, trailing 21-13 at the end of the first half.
On the Giants first drive of the second half, Manning completed a 27-yard pass to receiver Odell Beckham Jr, followed by a 19-yard run by running back Rashad Jennings and a ten-yard reception by receiver Victor Cruz. The Giants were unable to get a much needed touchdown on the Eagles own 11-yard line, so they settled for a 29-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould, now the score being 21-16.
The Eagles expanded their lead to 24-16 after a 41-yard field goal from kicker Caleb Sturgis. On the next drive, the Giants would reply with a 41-yard field goal of their own from Gould, cutting the Eagles lead to 24-19.
With 4:15 left in the game, the Giants were able to get in a groove to work their way into Philadelphia territory. In what looked like a Giants first down on a four yard pass from Odell Beckham Jr on third and four, Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson would throw out the red flag to challenge the spot of the ball. After review, officials determined that Beckham was short of the first down. On fourth and one, offensive tackle John Jerry was called for a false start, now giving the Giants a fourth down and six. Manning would throw a pass to Shepard, but the pass was broken up by Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll, who looked to have held onto Shepard (particularly hooking Shepard’s arm) the entire play.
After the Giants received the ball back from the Eagles after a three and out, they had 1:31 left to try and score a touchdown to take a late lead. The Giants would use the dink and dunk method to work their way down to the Eagles 34 yard line. Manning would miss his first two targets in Cruz and Beckham, who looked to have had a chance of scoring a touchdown, but Manning’s pass was way over Beckham’s head. On third and ten, Manning would throw a high pass towards tight end Will Tye, but safety Terrence Brooks would jump in Tye’s path and haul in the interception to seal the game.
“I didn’t coach well enough and we didn’t play well enough in all three phases,” said Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “They scored touchdowns. We kicked field goals.”
In a crucial game with playoff implications, Eli Manning just could not step up to the plate. Sure Manning had 63 pass attempts, however, he was only able to complete 38 of them. The NFL Media Research Group states that NFL teams have lost 16 straight games when the quarterback has 60 or more pass attempts. Not only that, but Manning had three costly interceptions that killed any momentum the Giants had gained. This is not the trend Manning needs to have in games with playoff implications and it is known that the offense needs to be more consistent.
“I got off to a bad start,” said Manning. “We got down into scoring position a bunch, and just too many field goals. That’s what it really came down to.”
Entering this game, the Giants had one weak spot that the Eagles were vulnerable at. The secondary. The Giants knew that if they attacked the Eagles secondary and put points on the board, then the game was theirs. Although that is not what happened. The yardage was there, at 356 total pass yards, but the points did not match those yardage numbers.
The story still seems to repeat itself all season long. The offense is simply not living up to their potential. Inconsistency continues to ravage the offense, and the Giants are picking a bad time for the trend to continue, especially with playoff implications on the line. The Giants had opportunities to win this game, but they just could not take advantage of it.
“You want to come in here and take care of business and we didn’t do that tonight,” said Beckham. “…but it’s not the end of the season…We got knocked down early. They hit us right in the mouth and we got back up. We just got to put more points on the board, that’s really the bottom line.”
“We had it right there in our grasp to win this game and be into the playoffs,” said Cruz. “…and we didn’t complete that task.”
Janoris Jenkins was a game-time decision heading into Thursday night’s game. After testing out his back during pregame warmups, the Giants played it safe after seeing Jenkins not run at his full speed and declared Jenkins inactive for the game. Stepping in Jenkins’ place was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Trevin Wade. Rodgers-Cromartie had 2 solo tackles, two passes defended, and hauled in one interception. Trevin Wade had three solo tackles and one pass defended (and it looked of such ease). The defensive depth has shown to be strong for the Giants, as the next man up method is not having any issues after the injuries to Jason Pierre-Paul and Jenkins.
However, a loss is a loss. The defense was not proud of their performance because they did not get the victory they wanted. Even though the offense struggled, the defense still blames themselves for allowing 24 points, especially seeing their seven quarter streak of not allowing a touchdown snapped early in the first quarter.
“We expected their best shot and we got it,” said Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas. “They came out and punched us in the mouth. We couldn’t come through at the end…It’s not hard to motivate this team. It’s not hard to get this team ready to go play. We’ve just got to be able to capitalize on our situation where we’re at, and play and win. We started slow and we couldn’t overcome it.”
What makes this defeat more difficult to swallow is that it allowed the rival Dallas Cowboys (12-2) to clinch the NFC East Title, as well as the #1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Even with the defeat, the Giants have a 99.3% chance of making the playoffs. The Giants will now have to wait this weekend for either a Packers (8-6), Lions (9-5), Falcons (9-5), or Buccaneers (8-6) loss to clinch the much sought after playoff berth.
Total Plays: 88
Total Yards: 470
Penalties: 5-50 yards
First Downs: 24
Eli Manning: 38/63, 356 Yards, 1 TD, 3 INT, 61.3 QBR.
Paul Perkins: 15 Attempts, 68 Yards.
Odell Beckham Jr: 11 Receptions, 150 Yards.
Victor Cruz: 8 Receptions, 84 Yards.
Sterling Shepard: 7 Receptions, 61 Yards, 1 TD.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: 2 Total Tackles, 2 Passes Defended, 1 INT.
Landon Collins: 9 Total Tackles.
Devon Kennard: 4 Total Tackles, 1 Assisted Tackle.
Trevin Wade: 3 Total Tackles, 1 Pass Defended.
Romeo Okwara: 3 Total Tackles, 1 Assisted Tackle.
Keenan Robinson: 3 Total Tackles.
Kelvin Sheppard: 3 Total Tackles.
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