Giants Were Good But Not Enough Against Eagles

Somehow, you knew this would be the end of the game.

When they appear to be on the verge of victory, the Giants are somehow snakebite.

This time around, they apparently were robbed.

Offensively outplaying high-powered Philadelphia and staying within reach defensively, the Giants should have had a first-and-goal at the Eagles one-yard line when it appeared Evan Engram was interfered with trying to catch a pass in the end zone from the 11-yard line with 48 seconds remaining. The Giants were backed up five yards when right tackle Bobby Hart jumped offsides.

Instead, Philadelphia escaped with 34-29 victory and gave the Eagles a first-round playoff bye.

“That definitely was pass interference,” said Engram, who caught eight balls for 87 yards. “It was pretty obvious and I guess the ref didn’t see it. I was held, and we should have had the ball on the one.

“But I thought we played well offensively. I really thought we would win.”

Offensively, it should have been a Giants’ victory. But, like the season, this was another unusual day at Met Life.

In the fourth quarter, cries of “Defense” from Eagles’ fans could be clearly heard as well as cheers during opportune times. The Giants also had a punt, extra point, and field goal attempt blocked.

Aside from his few mistakes, Manning easily had the best overall performance of the season, and arguably one of the best in his career.

He finished the afternoon 37 for 57 for 434 yards with three touchdowns, two of them fifty-plus yards.

It became quite clear the Giants weren’t going to run the ball, as Manning threw on the team’s first nine plays and he was 13-for-18 for 207 yards in the second quarter.

In fact, the Giants scored on their first three possessions and held a seemingly commanding 20-7 lead over the 11-2 NFC  front-running Eagles.

“I thought the receivers did a great job today,” said Manning. “I thought I threw the ball against a great defense. We had a good plan and we started fast.”

Manning hit Tavares King on a 13-yard rollout for a score and later found Sterling Shepard along the sidelines. Shepard began to break free, got a great block from King, and took off on his eventual 67-yard sprint down the sidelines.

But over a four-minute period late in the second quarter, Philadelphia showed its mettle.

The Eagles Ronald Darby picked off a bad Manning pass that would lead to a punt, and they then blocked a Brad Wing punt that resulted in a score and a 21-20 advantage.

Manning, though, quickly resurrected himself. He guided the team down field connecting with Shane Vereen on a 44-yarder and a 15-yard roughness penalty on Philadelphia moved the ball down to the Eagles’ 24.

Manning then hit Shepard across the middle moving the ball down to the Philadelphia 12, but the Giants’ drive stalled there. They had to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Aldrick Rosas and took a 23-21 halftime lead.

The opening half helped re-establish the Manning-Shepard duo, as Shepard caught 11 passes for 139 yards and was targeted 16 times.

Philadelphia regained the lead for the rest of the afternoon when Jake Elliott booted a 28-yard field goal for a 24-23 advantage on their opening drive of the second half.

The Eagles’ offense didn’t really miss a beat with Nick Foles starting for the injured Carson Wentz. Foles started slowly, but he finished the afternoon 24-for-38 for 234 yards and four touchdowns.

But the Eagles’ defense struggled again after the Rams ran up and down the field against them last week. They allowed the Giants to produce 504 yards of offense and were flagged seven times, mostly for defensive holding in the secondary.

The Giants closed to within 31-29 when Manning hit King, who broke free for a 57-yard gallop, but they couldn’t get any closer as Manning was sacked looking for a receiver on the two-point conversion.

New York’s secondary had trouble containing receivers Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffries as well as tight end Zach Ertz as the trio combined for 28 catches. The Giants also has a sloppy afternoon attempting to make tackles.

“We were hoping for a memorable game, a memorable score,” said Giants’ head coach Steve Spagnuolo. “Our special team’s protection got us in trouble and our defensive tackling wasn’t good enough. It would have been special if a 2-11 team could have beaten an 11-2 team. But obviously that didn’t happen.”

 A team now that has predictable outcomes.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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