God, it's painful to do this. This is one of the worst losses I have ever experienced in probably 40+ years of being a fan of the never do things the easy way New York Giants. When you think about this game, it turned on a handful of plays where the Giants very simply did not get the job done. I can quickly point out seven, so let's go through them.
1. The Punt -- The nightmare play that ended the game and any real shot the Giants had at the NFC East title now joins The Fumble and the Trey Junkin Snap as the most disastrous plays I can remember in all the years I have watched the Giants. Maybe a couple of the old-timers have plays to add to that list, but I'm not sure I really want to know.
We have waited all year for Matt Dodge's inconsistency to kill the Giants in a key spot, and it happened in the worst spot imaginable. I had an awful premonition when I saw the high snap, and when I realized DeSean Jackson was going to get his hands on the ball I was almost sick. When I realized he was going to take it 65 yards to win the game for Philly I was ... well, I don't know what I was. Stunned hardly describes it.
"It's a dream come true. Actually sitting back there looking at 12 seconds right before the referee came back and put the extra two seconds on, not that it mattered or whatever but I'm just sitting back there and thinking to myself like ‘they're really not going to kick it to me.' I was thinking that he was going to kick it out of bounds," said Jackson.
Dodge, a rookie punter, had obviously been told to kick the ball out of bounds. You could see a disbelieving Tom Coughlin go right to him after the game to find out what the heck had happened.
"It wasn't rocket science not to kick it to him with 12 seconds left, but sometimes you don't execute as well as you'd like," Dodge said. "Sometimes you try so hard to do something - get it out of bounds - and you just lose your head. And that's kind of what happened."
"The young punter was told to punt it out of bounds and he got a high snap and didn't feel like he could and we all learned the hard way again. At that point in the game with (Jackson) back there, you don't punt into that," said Coughlin in his post-game remarks.
2. The Onside Kick -- This play with 7:28 left was inexcusable. The Giants chose not to put their "hands" team in the game, and both Duke Calhoun and Gerris Wilkinson peeled off early, making it easy for the Eagles to recover. I have called for special teams coordinator Tom Quinn to be fired in the past, and this is a situation in which Quinn should be completely embarrassed. Not being ready for this is terrible.
"We talked about the onside kick as a possibility. We didn't put our hands team in there, no. There were still seven and a half minutes to go and they were down two scores, so we didn't think it was necessary to do that at that time," Coughlin said. "There was no reason for us not to make a better play on the ball. We didn't have anybody even around the ball."
3. Brent Celek's Touchdown -- Yeah, Kenny Phillips missed a touchdown-saving tackle on Celek's 65-yard score, but this one is entirely on defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. What the heck is he doing having Justin Tuck 30 yards down the field in man coverage trying to cover a tight end? That's a Bill Sheridan move right there, and it turned out to be a killer. Fewell got cute when it was completely unnecessary, and got burned.
4. Michael Vick's 35-yard scramble -- You can talk about the Giants blitzing all you want, but there was nothing wrong with the strategy. On this play Deon Grant was in the backfield with a clean shot at Vick, but came up empty and in the blink of an eye Vick was 35 yards down the field and the Eagles had first and goal at the Giants' nine-yard line.
5. Vick's 33-yard scramble from his own 12 -- For most of two full games the Giants did a fantastic job of maintaining containment on Vick and not allowing him to get outside -- especially to his left -- where he is a nightmare. Then Ross, for a reason known only to himself, tried to jump inside while blitzing off the right edge of the Giants defense. Mistake! Thirty-three yards worth of mistake, since it gave Vick a clear lane to run and set up the game-tying touchdown.
6. Eli Manning and Derek Hagan miscommunicate -- Have you ever seen Eli Manning, who played brilliantly, as demonstrative as he was after Hagan misread a blitz causing a Manning pass to fall incomplete and forcing the Giants to punt with 3:13 left. A completion there and the Giants are most likely able to run out the clock, since the Eagles had no timeouts.
7. Mario Manningham's fumble -- In the madness of the way the game finished, don't overlook this play. The Giants were ahead, 24-3, had complete control of the game and the Eagles were at a point where even they did not believe they had a chance to win.
"Honestly, I really didn't even think it was going to be possible especially with the way the Giants played in the first half. They had so much momentum, the crowd was behind them and so loud, they just kept trying to take away the things we do well," Jackson said. "Coming into halftime 24-3, that's really unbelievable for a team to come back and win. We pulled it out though and that's all that matters."
Then Manningham inexplicably put the ball on the turf without really even being hit, Jamar Chaney recovered, a few plays later the Eagles scored to make it 24-10 and the game quickly began to get away from the Giants.