What can we learn from Sunday’s bitter 34-29 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday? Well, there were several. Horrible special teams play by the Giants. A MetLife Stadium takeover by Eagles fans. Despite a terrific offensive showing, another failure to crack the impenetrable 30-point barrier. Let’s take a look.
Special teams were especially awful
If you want to pinpoint a reason for the loss, it’s not hard to look directly at special teams.
The Giants had an extra point, a field goal and a punt blocked. The blocked extra point led to a failed two-point conversion attempt. The blocked punt put the ball at the Giants’ 18-yard line, and the Eagles converted that into a touchdown.
Thus, special teams mistakes led directly to a 12-point swing in the game.
“The special teams miscues put our backs to the wall. That’s tough,” Spagnuolo said. “The margin for error is very small for us right now with all the injuries and what we’re going through. To be making it easy on an opponent, that hurts.”
Injuries keep piling up
Landon Collins played, but probably shouldn’t have. After barely practicing during the week, Collins tested his injured ankle before the game and was allowed to play. He didn’t make it all the way through the first half before limping off and being ruled out.
Will we see him again this season?
B.J. Goodson (ankle) also played despite being less than 100 percent. He eventually left the game.
After a spectacular 57-yard catch-and-run in which he dove to get the ball to the pylon Tavarres King left the game with a concussion. That was a cruel end to the best regular season game of King’s career, two catches for 70 yards and two TDs.
The 30-point barrier remains unbreakable
Sunday was easily the Giants’ best offensive performance of the season.
- Manning threw for season highs of 434 yards and three touchdowns.
- The Giants scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, the first time they have done that since Week 17 of the 2012 season, also vs. the Eagles.
- They got explosive catch-and-run touchdowns of 67 yards from Sterling Shepard and 57 yards from King. They had four other pass plays of more than 20 yards.
- Manning had a career-high 252 passing yards in the first half.
- The Giants even reached into the Mike Sullivan bag of tricks for a tight end reverse, which Evan Engram took for a 14-yard gain.
More creativity from Giants offense:— Ryan Smith (@PFF_Smith) December 17, 2017
Evan Engram on the end around. Shows off his speed, not fair for Chris Long pic.twitter.com/HvQVBKKXWf
“We played really well. A lot of huge plays, a lot of explosive plays,” Engram said.
“I don’t know whether we did anything differently (on offense),” Spagnuolo said. “We talked a lot during the week about the value of a four-yard run and a five-yard completion against this team and the fact that if we could get some of those completions, some of them would turn into yards off the catch plays, which it did.”
Manning credited both the game plan of Mike Sullivan and the play of his receivers.
“I think we had a good plan for how they were going to play and guys did a good job getting open. They covered us up a few times, but we had a good plan of getting the ball out quickly, which we did,” Manning said. “Playing fast, some up-tempo stuff, I think that confused them a little bit. Hit some guys in stride, hit some guys running, so I think we just had a good plan. Guys were winning and that’s fun when that happens.”
The Giants, though, still couldn’t crack the 30-point barrier. They haven’t done that since the final game of the 2015 season, a 35-30 loss to the Eagles when Ben McAdoo was still offensive coordinator.
Manning will start vs. Arizona
After watching Manning throw for 434 yards and three touchdown, and come within an arm’s length of leading the Giants to an upset of the Eagles, interim coach Steve Spagnuolo laughed when asked if Manning would start Christmas Eve against the Arizona Cardinals.
“That’s a pretty good assumption,” he said.
Whether or not rookie Davis Webb will, or should, be active for the final two games is certain to continue to be a source of debate. It’s apparent, though, that Webb will not get any significant playing time this season.
Eagles fans impact the end of the game
Looking out from the press box window it was obvious there were a great many Eagles fans in attendance Sunday. Just how many became obvious as the game wore on, with Eagles fans drowning out whatever Giants fans were actually at MetLife Stadium. Philadelphia faithful were booming out a chant of “DEE-FENSE” as the Giants drove toward a potential game-winning score in the fourth quarter.
“They’re loud. They’re crazy. We had a great group out there,” said Eagles’ cornerback Jalen Mills.
The Philly fans may have even impacted the outcome of the game. With Eagles’ fans roaring, right tackle Bobby Hart committed a false start penalty on fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line with just :48 seconds remaining. That pushed the Giants back to the 11-yard line.
“There’s not a whole lot of great fourth-and-goal from the 12 plays,” Manning said. “obviously you have more options from the five. From the five, we had a different play called where you get four guys in the end zone, five guys in the end zone with a back, possibly. From the 10, it’s just tough to get everybody in the end zone with routes and things going. So, yeah, it’s unfortunate. I had the false start. It’s a tough situation, I don’t blame Bobby [Hart]. At home, it’s loud. (Center) Brett Jones couldn’t hear me call the cadence. You don’t think having that [at home], but I guess when you’ve only won two games, there’s a lot of Eagles fans and they were loud and we couldn’t hear the cadence, that’s why we jumped offsides.”
Eli Apple active in return
After four games on the inactive list, Eli Apple returned to action on Sunday. The 2016 first-round pick didn’t start, but he entered the game after a few plays and saw extensive action. He ended up tying Darian Thompson for the team-high with nine tackles.
Apple and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie did appear to miscommunicate on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Trey Burton in the second quarter, leaving the Eagles wide receiver alone in the end zone.
“I need to see the film, but I thought he was solid. I don’t remember anything that got us in trouble,” Spagnuolo said. “I do remember this – he had at least two really good tackles and he’s a really good tackler.”
Apple was happy to be back on the field.
“It felt great to be back out there with the guys. I told ‘em that, too, during the game,” Apple said. “Just tried to do everything I could on my part to help us win.
“It’s all about just looking somebody else in the face and being accountable. Being able to go out there and give it your all.”