The New York Giants gave the Seattle Seahawks all they could handle for most of the game Sunday. Despite the crowd noise, the Giants moved the ball well and were forcing turnovers pretty much whenever Russell Wilson tried to throw.
Though the Giants' run game was decidedly anemic, Eli Manning consistently found success against both the weather and Seattle's fearsome Legion Of Boom.
Eli finished with a line of 29-of-44 for 283 yards, a touchdown and an interception. It was that last stat bit of the stat line that may ultimately have cost the Giants the game.
With 57 seconds left in the thirrd quarter, and the Giants driving to answer a game-tying field goal, Manning took a shot to the end zone. With first down at the Seattle 39-yard line, Manning fired lofted a pass for rookie sensation Odell Beckham, who was being covered by All-Pro corner Richard Sherman.
The throw isn't as ill-advised as it would seem on the face of it. Beckham had been battling Sherman all game long, and had won his share of those battles. He finished with seven receptions on eight targets and 104 yards, most of those were with Sherman shadowing him.
But on that play, the receiver who warms up by catching the ball one-handed, couldn't come down with a jump ball in the end zone. Of course, instead of falling harmlessly to the turf, the ball was tipped to Earl Thomas.
"Very, very bad decision on the interception," Manning said after the game. "Just late and can't afford to do that."
After a 47-yard return, a series of pounding runs the Seahawks broke the 17-17 tie with a touchdown, and never looked back.
This play wasn't "the reason" why the Giants lost. That distinction goes to the defense's complete and utter inability to stop Seattle's rushing attack.
However, up until this play, the two teams were on even footing. Had the pass resulted in a score, the thunderous Seattle crowd might have been quieted a bit, and the shock value of the play could have had an effect on both teams. It could have forced the Seahawks to respect Beckham and the deep ball, making life easier for the Giants' running backs. It could also have given the defense another source of energy to feed off of as they got to protect a lead.
But none of that happened. Eli gets the mark on his record, but this one wasn't his fault. Some might question the wisdom of challenging one of the premier corners in the game like that, but Beckham had already burned Sherman for a 44-yard reception to end the first quarter. However, like so many of Eli's interceptions this one was tipped and found the hands of a defender.
Even if that one play didn't doom the Giants, it certainly did change the entire complexion of the game.