It was a game of “almosts” for the New York Giants.
The Giants almost beat the Philadelphia Eagles. They almost broke 30 points for the first time in two seasons. They almost looked as much like the offense we all expected to see at the beginning of the season. (Or at least as close as possible without Odell Beckham Jr. on the field)
But they just couldn’t seal the deal on any of them. But along the way there were several winners that fans can be happy about, as well as a few “losers” that cost the Giants the game.
Winner - Sterling Shepard
What a game by Sterling Shepard. 16 targets, 11 receptions, 139 yards and touchdown.
It was clear form the first snap of the game that the Giants intended to attack the Eagles’ secondary and that Shepard would be their number one weapon.
Shepard kept the offense on track by dissecting the Eagles’ defense and finding the soft spot in their coverage seemingly whenever Eli Manning needed him. He also provided one of the plays of the game with a fantastic 67-yard catch-and-run for the Giants’ second touchdown of the game.
MUST WATCH! @sterl_shep3 takes it 67 yards for Eli Manning's 50th career TD pass vs. the Eagles (most against one opponent) pic.twitter.com/AVp47j1YXt— New York Giants (@Giants) December 17, 2017
Loser - Tackling
Once again, the Giants’ defense allowed far too many “leaky” yards. Apart from the constant injuries to back seven players this year, tackling — particularly on the edges — has been the achilles heel of the defense.
Time and again it looked as though the Giants could have limited an Eagles player to a minimal gain, only to miss the tackle. It’s been a problem all season long, and though the Giants certainly played hard on defense, they’ll need to play more fundamentally sound football next year.
Winner - Evan Engram
Evan Engram was once again one of the Giants’ few offensive threats. Targeted 13 times, he hauled in 8 catches for 87 yards, as well as a single run for 14 yards. He was unable to make the touchdown catch to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but he certainly did his share to put the Giants in position to win.
That one carry for 14 yards was itself memorable, as it came on the rare tight end Jet Sweep — A play the Giants have never shown in-game, but took advantage of Engram’s rare athleticism and took the Eagles’ defense by surprise.
Evan Engram showing off his 4.42 speed. pic.twitter.com/oqZQWy1kE9— PinkSlipSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) December 17, 2017
Loser - Special Teams
A blocked extra point to start the game, a blocked punt, and a blocked field goal.
The Giants’ special teams were abysmal today against the Eagles, and it undoubtedly cost them the game. Though there is an argument that Engram had his right arm held on the Giants’ final offensive play, had the special teams not left four points on the field, the Giants could have won with a simple field goal — and broken the 30-point barrier for the first time in two seasons.
Winner - Tavarres King
As a career journeyman, this was easily the best game of King’s career. Despite only catching two passes on three targets, he made the absolute most of them, setting career highs in both yards (70) and touchdowns (2) — which, incidentally doubles his career regular season average.
ICYMI: Eli Manning finds Tavarres King for a 13-yard touchdown! #NYGiants lead 13-7 pic.twitter.com/wsD1Aqs2ia— New York Giants (@Giants) December 17, 2017
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) December 17, 2017
Tavarres King with his best @OBJ_3 impression for the @Giants.
What. A. Touchdown.#PHIvsNYG | #GiantsPride pic.twitter.com/oDrCkJrToP
Loser - Tavarres King
Of course King would be ruled out of the game with a concussion immediately after his 57-yard touchdown, because 2017. Perhaps the game would have had a different outcome if the Giants had had King in the final quarter of the game.
Hopefully, he will be able to clear the concussion protocol quickly.