Moeller: Giants Disappear in Second Half and for the Season

We were reassured late Sunday afternoon about something we knew for a while.

The Giants aren’t a good football team.

For the previous two weeks, we believed the Giants were a better team than their once 1-7 record, and they were off life support and back into the NFC East race or a wild card.

That was until late Sunday afternoon. The plug has been pulled.

The Eagles proved to be a thorn in the Giants’ side once again with a comeback 25-22 victory.

In the first half, focusing it all on Saquon Barkley was working. The rookie wunderkind had 94 yards rushing and 37 yards receiving – a 51-yard untouched touchdown sprint and a 13-yard touchdown pass in the mix – for a combined 131 yards that helped the Giants to a 19-3 lead that lessened to a 19-11 advantage at the half.

Early in the third quarter, the Giants registered two sacks on Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz on a drive and still appeared to be in control.

From there, however, Barkley suddenly was out of the Giants’ game plan with 11 total yards, and their defense collapsed to the Eagles’ run-pass option offense, particularly their running game.

Late in the third and in the final quarter, the Giants’ once vibrant defense looked gassed.

Welcome back to reality, and the slow bleep on the monitor.

Was it the Eagles’ second-half surge or the Giants’ play calling?

Charles Dickens couldn’t have titled this better – it was a Tale of Two Halves.

“You have to give credit where credit is due,” said Barkley. “The Eagles came out and did really well, especially in the second half. They got the win and found a way to finish. That’s what we have to get better at.”

He was diplomatic. Odell Beckham Jr., who caught five balls for 85 yards, wasn’t.

Beckham believed the plan should have been to attack the Eagles’ depleted secondary, which had three corners who weren’t on their active roster a month ago.

“Honestly, that’s a question for the coach,” he said. “I don’t call the plays. I just do what I am told to do and go out there and execute whenever I get an opportunity to do something. When I do have an opportunity, I try to make the most of it. Coming in, knowing that they struggled in the secondary, personally I would have loved to attack. But it wasn’t in our game plan.”

Hmm…maybe Beckham’s recent team statesman status will start to dissipate over the last five games.

Head coach Pat Shurmur appeared to lose his aggressive nature going to Barkley and Beckham in the second half.

Giving Wayne Gallman a crack on a series I fine, but don’t venture far from a duo that once gave you a 16-point lead.

“We had one series there and gave it to (Wayne Gallman),” Shurmur said. “We’re going to spell [Barkley] a little bit as we go. He touched the ball 20 times. [But] when we knock ourselves off schedule with penalties, then sacks and then all that stuff; you get off schedule trying to get the ball to Saquon and Odell and the guys that need to touch it.”

Now the Giants have to face an upstart Bears team Sunday at Met Life and still have Washington, Tennessee, Indianapolis, and Dallas left.

It will be extremely difficult to regain momentum again after letting one slip away. Good teams win those types of football games.

Instead of figuring out ways to win the NFC East or a wild card, it looks like it’s time to look who will be there among the top five draft picks in April. 

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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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