In the grand scheme of things Sunday was just another loss in a forgettable season for the New York Giants. The 34-29 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles was, however, filled with good and bad performances. Let’s review in our traditional “Kudos & Wet Willes” style.
Kudos to ...
Eli Manning — This was vintage Manning. Getting the ball out quickly, giving receivers chances to make plays. His 434 passing yards were his best of the year and fourth-best of his career. The three touchdown passes were a season-high. You can argue that the one interception he threw was on Roger Lewis Jr. for allowing defensive back Ronald Darby to undercut him. Whether he’s the Giants’ quarterback next season or someone else’s, he showed Sunday that he can still play. The only thing missing was one final magic moment that ended in a victory.
Sterling Shepard — Eleven catches on 16 targets (yes, 16!!) for 139 yards, just three yards shy of the career-high 142 he had earlier this year against the San Francisco 49ers. Shepard’s 67-yard catch-and-run, aided by a nice block from Wayne Gallman, was the kind of play the Giants have been missing without Odell Beckham Jr.
Wayne Gallman — Speaking of the rookie running back, he had a terrific game. His downfield block helped spring Shepard for a score. He carried the ball eight times for 39 yards (4.9 yards per carry), and had six receptions on seven targets for 40 yards. He played 36 snaps to 22 for Orleans Darkwa and is more and more becoming the Giants’ primary back.
Evan Engram — A career-high eight receptions. A running play (jet sweep? end around?) that went for 14 yards and highlighted his speed. Too bad he and Manning couldn’t connect on a game-winning throw.
The hearts of Landon Collins and B.J. Goodson — Both had ankle injuries, and neither should have been playing with the Giants entering the game 2-11. Both did, though, showing the heart and desire of the kind of players you can win with. Unfortunately, neither finished the game and both may have seen their seasons come to an end as they aggravated their injuries.
Tavarres King — Two catches, 70 yards, two touchdowns. A filthy move to get wide open for a 13-yard score and a tremendous effort to get to the pylon on a 57-yard catch-and-run that ended with him scoring — and concussing himself.
Dirty post-corner route from Tavarres King on the TD. Jaylen Mills toasted pic.twitter.com/j4C2SiJPQh— Ryan Smith (@PFF_Smith) December 17, 2017
Olivier Vernon -- At least as a pass rusher. Vernon had a strip sack of Nick Foles and was credited with five quarterback hits. That’s as much of a force as he has been all season rushing the passer. I’m less certain of his run defense, as Philadelphia seemed to attack his side much of the game.
Wet Willies to ...
Special teams — A blocked extra point that led to a failed two-point conversion. A blocked field goal. A blocked punt. “Special” teams cost the Giants 12 points on Sunday, five they should have scored and seven they gave up. The Giants were laughably incompetent at blocking for kicks on Sunday.
The Giants also were miserable in the return game. Kalif Raymond had one punt return for seven yards and five kickoff returns for an average of 20.0 yards. Why did they cut Ed Eagan in favor of Raymond, anyway?
Bobby Hart — Remember in the preseason when Hart said he thought he was the best right tackle in the league? Well, he’s not. Pretty much every time he has had to play this season, it has been a disaster. Sunday was no exception. He whiffed on a block that resulted in a 9-yard loss by Shane Vereen on a running play. He committed a false start on fourth-and-goal at the 6-yard line with :48 seconds left that took the Giants out of the play they wanted to run and made it fourth-and-goal at the 11. As Manning said post-game “There’s not a whole lot of great fourth-and-goal from the 12 plays.” Eagles’ defensive end Brandon Graham had his way with Hart the entire game, getting a sack, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. Only Manning’s ability to get the ball out quickly saved the performance from looking even worse.
Darian Thompson — The second-year safety was a big part of the reason why the Giants didn’t win on Sunday. Thank him if all you care about is the Giants getting a higher draft pick, but the Giants need better play than what they got from Thompson Sunday. Not to mention what he has given them most of the season, which isn’t a whole lot.
Thompson had a 32-yard pass interference penalty that put the ball at the Giants’ 5-yard line and led to an Eagles’ touchdown on their first drive. Serving as the personal protector (non-protector?) for Brad Wing, he missed the block that resulted in a blocked punt, putting the ball at the Giants’ 18-yard line and leading to another Philly touchdown. With third-and-9 at the Giants’ 49 and 9:26 left in a 31-29 game, Thompson missed an open field tackle — a bugaboo for him all season — that allowed Zach Ertz to gain 15 yards and a first down. Rather than having to punt, giving the ball back to the Giants in a two-point game, the play allowed the Eagles to get a Jake Elliott field goal. That put the Giants in position to need a touchdown rather than a field goal to win.
As poorly as Thompson has played it’s kind of amazing he hasn’t lost more time to Andrew Adams, who played well in that spot last season.
Get Tom Quinn the hell outta here. Giants ST have been a joke for ages. pic.twitter.com/ODVHFulgnE— PinkSlipSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) December 17, 2017
Jason Pierre-Paul -- The only time Pierre-Paul had a chance to make an impact play in the entire game he was unblocked. Rather than try to hit Nick Foles he leaped in the air. Foles avoided him and threw a pass that led to Thompson’s pass interference penalty.
I know Pierre-Paul is playing with a club on his mangled right hand, having recently suffered another injury there. He has, however, been non-existent most of the season. He has had two good games out of 14, compiling five of his 6.5 sacks vs. the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins. That’s not nearly enough production for a guy who last offseason signed a four-year, $62 million deal with $40 million guaranteed. He’s not coming close to earning his paycheck.