By Curt Macysyn
For a team on a mission, this will be a tough pill to swallow. If there is one thing that the New York Giants (10-5) have not done this season, it’s beat themselves. The Philadelphia Eagles (6-9) played well enough win, but in reality, Big Blue beat themselves at Lincoln Financial Field. Eli Manning threw three interceptions, including a pick-six to become the Giants’ own chief culprit on Thursday night. But Manning had company, with several dropped passes, and more than a few ill-advised penalties that helped doom the G-Men in 24-19 loss on Thursday Night Football.
There were many opportunities in this game for the Giants, as the statistics bear out. New York ran 88 offensive plays to Philadelphia’s 55 plays. The Giants had 470 total yards on offense, while the Eagles had a mere 286 yards. On defense, the Eagles refused to allow Odell Beckham to get behind them, and on offense, the Birds played with house money.
Yes, the Giants out gained the Eagles by almost 200 yards, but they were never truly in sync. New York fell behind by two touchdowns before the first quarter was halfway over, and that probably ruined the game plan. The running game was effective with 114 yards on the ground, but Paul Perkins could only get 15 carries because of the deficit, or he may have had 100 yards rushing.
Eli Manning will have to ice down his arm after this one, as the threw a career-high 63 passes in the loss. Those 63 passes were also a team record, but the pass-run ratio (63 to 25) was not good. Odell Beckham had 11 catches on 20 targets for 150 receiving yards, but he could not wiggle free to get to pay dirt. Sterling Shepard had a nice 13-yard touchdown of his seven receptions on the evening. Largely, New York settled for four Robbie Gould field goals because they could not get into the end zone time and again. Offensive guard John Jerry had a critical false start penalty down the stretch, and tackles Bobby Hart and Ereck Flowers took turns getting pushed back into Manning.
The defense definitely missed the presence of cornerback Janoris Jenkins this week. It sure seemed like rookie Eli Apple was in the wrong coverage when he was beaten by Nelson Agholor for a 40-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter. Apple was also called for a ticky tack unnecessary roughness penalty against Carson Wentz that should get the Giants an apology from the NFL. Big deal. The zebras allowed the Philadelphia crowd to make that call.
Later on, Olivier Vernon trapped Wentz in the pocket and was assessed a roughing the quarterback call. It was hard to determine what Vernon actually did to warrant the penalty, and Wentz was temporarily knocked out from the game. The Giants came up with a critical goal line stand in the third quarter and held the Birds to one field goal in the second half. Landon Collins was stout again and led the unit with nine tackles. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted a Wentz floater in the second quarter.
Wentz was elusive at times, and the play calls got the ball out of the rookie’s hands quickly as well. The defense held the Eagles to 286 total yards in the evening. All things considered, the unit deserved a better fate.
Special Teams: A
A well-timed punt or kickoff return could have really helped the offense out; that was not in the cards, but Brad Wing and Dwayne Harris kept doing their thing. Wing had three punts for a 48.3 yard average and dropped another one inside the 5-yard line this week. His other two punts were fair caught. If only the offense could be as productive.
Kicker Robbie Gould had four field goals coming into Philadelphia, and he converted on all four attempts (35, 35, 29, 41) against the Birds. Gould also had four touchbacks on kickoffs, and the Eagles could muster only 38 return yards on two kickoffs.
It’s tough to grade the coaching staff, especially without two of the star defensive players (Jenkins, Jason Pierre-Paul) for the contest. Even so, Steve Spagnuolo’s unit held the Eagles offense to 17 points for the game. The unit definitely kept the G-Men in the game, but the offense did not cooperate. Trevin Wade was inserted into the slot cornerback position and made several plays.
Head coach Ben McAdoo did not hit the panic button, even after the team went down by 14 points early in the first quarter. It is hard to imagine this team going far in the playoffs with this offensive line getting pushed into Manning on a regular basis. The wide receiver trio of Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard saw 43 (count them) targets on the evening. Hopefully no one complains that he was ignored this week.
Up Next: Washington Redskins (7-6-1)
The Giants have a prolonged rest before heading to Washington to take on a desperate Redskins squad on New Year’s Day. The DC squad will likely have to win its final two contests in order to make the playoffs, and the ‘Skins did hang a loss on the G-Men earlier this season. New York will be looking for revenge, as well as a chance to knock Washington out of the playoff hunt.