Thursday games this season in the NFL have not been been sharp overall and last night’s Giants-Eagles was no exception. The Giants, playing at the venue that has haunted them the most the past few seasons, Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, came up short in their biggest game in four seasons, losing 24-19, in an error-filled effort. In their last four games at “The Linc”, including a win in 2013, they have scored a total of two touchdowns.
“We didn’t score touchdowns. We kicked field goals,” head coach Ben McAdoo said after the game. “I didn’t coach well enough, and we didn’t play well enough, in all three phases.”
Big Blue got down early (14-0 and then 21-6) but staged a furious comeback in the second half that did everything but produce enough points for a victory. They dropped passes, missed tackles, converted just once in five trips into the red zone and yes, were victimized once again by both poor decision making from QB Eli Manning and several horrible calls (and non-calls) from Clete Blakeman’s officiating crew.
Manning’s three interceptions were all damaging. One was a pick-six in the first quarter, the second was an under throw and the final was at the end of the game in which Manning chose to throw the last-ditch effort to TE Will Tye instead of WR Odell Beckham.
The Giants had their best offensive output of the season, 470 total yards, while holding the Eagles to just 268. Manning threw a franchise-record 63 times, completing 38 of them for 356 yards, but it was the ones he missed on that will be remembered.
In the final minute, Manning had Beckham open in the end zone down the middle but this time the pass was overthrown.
“I had him,” Manning said. “I had a shot. I had a little double move and I probably could have tried to throw it early and made sure that I had enough room with the end zone and kind of put it on the line, so that the safety couldn’t recover and I just missed him a little bit. That is not a route that we throw all of the time. It was kind of a desperation moment right there, but that was definitely one of those plays again where we didn’t make it, it was there and we didn’t make it and it would have been a winner.”
Beckham, who was targeted 20 times in the game, catching 11 for 150 yards, blames himself, something he rarely does.
“I just didn’t make the play,” he said. “The ball wasn’t overthrown; it was put right where it needed to be. I just needed a little bit more gas in me to go and get it. When you get into a two-minute situation at the end of the game and you run a 30-yard route and come back, you run another 30-yard route and you come back and then you try to get it again, I just didn’t have enough gas to go and get it. It wasn’t really overthrown; I needed to do a better job. That’s one of the things I said I needed to work on: when the ball is in the air, you duck your head and take three steps and drive, look up and then take another three steps and drive. I just didn’t do it for some reason, I thought I would’ve been able to go and get to it and I wasn’t. That weighs heavy on me; I want to be able to make those plays for this team. We had our own destiny in our hands tonight and we just didn’t come up with it.”
The Giants ran the ball for 114 yards on just 25 attempts. They showed again that their offense is not built to play from behind anymore. The Giants did not get any love from the officials in this game. The Eagles were not flagged once for defensive holding or pass interference on a night in which the Giants threw the ball 63 times.
The defense was stellar for the most part but some missed tackles that kept several Eagles drives alive longer than they should have. Two questionable personal fouls, one against DE Oliver Vernon and the other versus CB Eli Apple were especially hurtful.
Vernon tackled QB Carson Wentz while Wentz still had the football in his hands inside the tackle box. There was no head-to-head contact but Wentz’ head grazed the turf as the two players fell to the ground. Apple was flagged trying to avoid a sliding Wentz and was clearly pulling up when he made minimal contact on the QB.
The one against Apple in the second quarter was followed by a 40-yard TD strike from Wentz to Nelson Agholor, which came as a result of miscommunication in the Giants’ secondary.
The loss gave the Dallas Cowboys both the NFC East title and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Giants can still clinch a postseason berth this weekend if one or the following teams lose: Atlanta, Green Bay, Detroit or Tampa Bay.