Thursday night’s 24-19 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was a missed opportunity for the New York Giants. A missed opportunity to win a football game, to clinch a playoff berth and to ease some of the questions about the team’s offense. Let’s get right to the “Kudos & Wet Willies.”
Kudos to ...
Odell Beckham Jr. — Eleven catches, 150 yards receiving. Yes, he dropped three passes, but the guy was targeted an incredible 20 times. With the Eagles sitting back in a protective Cover-2 the only thing Beckham couldn’t do was turn one of those short passes into the game-changing play the Giants needed. He nearly did so on the second-to-last Eli Manning pass but, exhausted, he couldn’t get to a ball in the back of the end zone that would have been a game-winning score. Even Superman has his limits.
Paul Perkins — Slowly but surely the rookie is becoming the Giants’ primary running back. Perkins led the Giants in carries (15). He gained 68 yards (4.5 per carry) and showed the make-defenders-miss ability that can really help the offense. His growing role is a good thing.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie — Not shabby for an aging slot corner forced to play outside due to an injury. DRC showed great closing burst to pick off a Carson Wentz pass, had two passes defensed and played all but one defensive snap.
Landon Collins — A team-high nine tackles, two for loss. Some good work in the open field. It’s easy to begin taking for granted what Collins does. That, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t really good.
Trevin Wade — Filling in for Janoris Jenkins, Wade had a nice night. His coverage was solid, including two passes defensed. He had a ridiculously good open-field tackle on Darren Sproles to prevent a first down. He recovered a Dwayne Harris fumble to prevent a turnover. That’s the kind of game you hope to get when you are forced to your depth guys.
Ereck Flowers — We spend a lot of time killing the young second-year left tackle. So, we have to give him props when he does the job. Very little of the pressure Manning faced Thursday came from Flowers, who held up well in pass protection and had a handful of road-grading run blocks. Pretty amazing what a difference having Justin Pugh next to him appears to make.
Brad Wing — Three punts, a 48.3-yard net average, not a single return yard allowed and one punt that rolled out of bounds at the 2-yard line. Not shabby at all.
Robbie Gould — The Giants’ veteran placekicker had only had four field-goal opportunities in eight games prior to Thursday. Against the Eagles he went 4-for-4 with a long field goal of 41 yards, keeping the Giants within striking distance.
Giants Color Rush white uniforms — Love ‘em! Wish they were the regular uniforms. In the end, the uni’s were probably the best thing about the entire night for the Giants.
Wet Willies to ...
Bobby Hart — The second-year right tackle has done a pretty good job this season. Thursday, though, he had a pretty awful night. Hart had no chance in pass protection against Eagles’ defensive end Brandon Graham. When Graham wasn’t running over Hart and bulling his way to Manning he was zooming inside of him. Graham did not register a sack, but he had four hits and four hurries while making Manning’s life miserable.
Eli Apple — Forget the ridiculous unnecessary roughness penalty. The NFL should be ashamed of itself for turning football into a sport where that play can draw a flag. Apple over-ran a screen pass to Dorial Green-Beckham that helped allow a Philly first down, then let Nelson Agholor behind him for a 40-yard touchdown.
Giants’ mistakes — Seven dropped passes, three interceptions, costly penalties, what seemed to be a busted coverage by Apple on the Agholor touchdown, possibly the worst tackling by the Giants’ defense all season. You don’t win NFL game on the road in a hostile environment — or playoff games — that way.
Kwillies to ...
Eli Manning — There are some who will be in disbelief that this isn’t a straight-up “Wet Willie.” I can already see the “there goes Ed defending Eli” comments. There was too much “Bad Eli” on Thursday night. I acknowledged that in the “Five things we learned” post. The pick 6 was a terrible decision. The pass to Sterling Shepard that bounced off the helmet of Leotis McKelvin in the end zone was a missed opportunity. There were others.
Let’s be real, though. Asking any quarterback to throw 63 times is a recipe for disaster. It means you are in desperation mode, trailing and needing to force the action. Bad things will happen. The Giants’ all-time record when throwing more than 50 passes in a game is 2-23, so losing Thursday night can’t be a surprise.
Manning had nothing to do with the seven passes his receivers dropped. He was hit or hurried on 30 percent of his throws, meaning a lot of passes (including the game-sealing interception intended for Will Tye) that he was unable to properly step into. Manning can’t control the lack of a flag on a fourth-and-six throw to Shepard, or Beckham being so exhausted he couldn’t get to what the receiver said was a perfectly thrown ball in the end zone on the Giants’ second-to-last offensive player.
Manning’s performance wasn’t good enough. It also wasn’t as bad, in my view, as your post-game emotions would lead you to believe. It would have looked a whole lot better with a bit more help from the guys around him.