The New York Giants lost a game they had, literally, in their hands on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. I will get to the ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ in a minute, but first a few thoughts about the 22-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Giants clearly don’t yet have enough talent on this roster. Nate Ebner, Madre Harper and Devante Downs and Trent Harris shouldn’t be playing defense. Yet, because of injuries Harris played 9 snaps, Ebner played 12, Harper 24, Downs a stunning 45. I will have some things to say about Harper a little bit later, but the Giants didn’t lose because of those second-line players.
They lost because the players who are supposed to be their best ones didn’t get the job done. First-round draft choices Evan Engram, Andrew Thomas, Daniel Jones and Jabrill Peppers all came up short on Thursday night. Big-time free-agent acquisitions James Bradberry and Logan Ryan committed critical penalties on Philadelphia’s game-winning drive.
You can’t win games when your best players don’t make plays. Or, especially, when they makes costly mistakes at the end of games.
In the end, the Eagles tried ... and tried ... and tried to give the Giants a victory last night. Carson Wentz practically FedEx-ed it with some of his head-scratching throws. The Giants simply looked at the gift and wrote “return to sender.”
Kudos to ...
Wayne Gallman — The fourth-year running back gave the Giants’ running game a boost in the second half. He finished with a pedestrian-looking 10 carries for 34 yards, but he was better than that. With the Giants leading 21-16 and trying to run clock late in the game, he had runs of 14 and 10 yards for first downs that should have helped the Giants salt away a victory.
Sterling Shepard — A really nice return for the veteran receiver. He had 6 catches for 59 yards. One of those went for a touchdown and three resulted in first downs. Maybe he’s not a great player, but he certainly is a dependable one.
Golden. Tate — I’m amending the original ‘K&WW’ post because I forgot Tate. The veteran wide receiver made a terrific play on his 39-yard touchdown reception from Daniel Jones. Best of all, though, Tate showed the rest of the league that he can still make an occasional play. Maybe that will give him some value with the trade deadline approaching.
Wet Willies to ...
Evan Engram — I don’t care if you believe the third-down pass from Daniel Jones right before the 2:00 mark was a couple of inches off target. I think it was a beautiful throw. I think it’s a ball that an NFL player drafted in the first round who makes his living as a pass catcher absolutely has to catch. No excuses.
Engram was WIDE OPEN on the kind of down field route we have been begging Jason Garrett to design for him. He had BOTH HANDS on the football without having to do any more than make a normal effort to catch it. Game over, Giants win if he makes that play. The ball has got to be caught.
Engram was also at least partially at fault for the Daniel Jones second-quarter interception. I wasn’t crazy about the play call — Engram is still 5 yards short of the first down if he catches the ball. The ball did get on Engram quickly and maybe Jones threw it too hard. Still, it’s another ball that hit him right in the hands and needs to be caught. If he catches it, maybe he can run for the first down and maybe the Giants drive down and score.
Andrew Thomas — The rookie left tackle was awful again on Thursday night. Discouragingly, the mistakes from Thomas were the same ones we saw over ... and over ... and over the first six weeks. Thomas surrendered a sack when he failed to recognize a stunt. He got beaten inside for the umpteenth time, by yet another spin move. He got bull rushed into Daniel Jones’ lap a few times.
The Giants are 1-6 and going nowhere this season. It’s pointless to bury the player you drafted No. 4 overall on the bench. He has to get better, though. He has to show better recognition of what’s happening on the field, and some ability not to keep making the same technical errors in his pass sets.
It’s reasonable to expect some growing pains with a 21-year-old kid. It’s also reasonable, though, to expect some improvement. We don’t appear to be getting the second part.
Madre Harper — The rookie defensive back might have physical skill that could eventually make him a good player, but right now he’s not ready for prime time. Beaten for a touchdown by Greg Ward. Beaten for a 30-yard completion to Richard Rodgers. An unnecessary roughness penalty after the touchdown. A late hit on DeSean Jackson that should have been a penalty.
Giants’ defense in the final six minutes — Given an 11-point lead with 6:17 to play, the Giants’ defense couldn’t hold, with an avalanche of penalties and poor plays doing them in.
With the score 21-10, Ryan Lewis committed an illegal contact penalty that negated a B.J. Hill sack. On the next play, he surrendered a 59-yard completion that set the Eagles up at the Giants’ 14-yard line. Lewis, seemingly peaking back at Carson Wentz, let Hightower run right by him.
There was a 12 men on the field penalty.
There was Harper getting beaten for a touchdown by Greg Ward, then playing tough guy and getting an unnecessary roughness penalty.
The mistakes continued on Philadelphia’s game winning drive.
There was a 30-yard completion to a third-string tight end, a play on which Harper was well behind Richard Rodgers.
There were penalties that gave the Eagles first downs on both James Bradberry and Logan Ryan, players the Giants need to make plays in those situations, not mistakes.
On the game-winning touchdown to Boston Scott, Jabrill Peppers let the running back get behind him. Why defenders, knowing the only thing that can help an offense is a touchdown, allow that to happen I will never understand. Peppers, though, did.
Corey Ballentine — Ballentine’s 15-yard penalty for lowering his head to hit DeSean Jackson on a punt return was bad. You have to know better, and Ballentine gave Philadelphia a free 15 yards to start their game-winning drive.
The second-year man’s lack of situational awareness is truly alarming. On fourth-and-3 from the 47-yard line the Giants had the Eagles confused and no one covered Ballentine, the gunner at the top of the screen. Punter Riley Dixon saw it. Everybody saw it. Except Ballentine. Dixon appeared to be trying to get Ballentine’s attention. Ballentine never looked at Dixon, never looked for the ball, just ran down the field like he always would. That was a gimme first down and probably a lot more — if the young man had the awareness to react to the situation.
Dion Lewis — Yet another veteran who has played in and won a lot of big games in his NFL career who let the Giants down Thursday night. Lewis’ fumble on his first touch of the game killed an opportunity for the Giants to tie the game or go ahead right before halftime. It didn’t cost the Giants on the scoreboard as Jake Elliott somehow missed a 29-yard field goal. Still, not good for a player who is on the roster purely because the coaching staff relies on his dependability.
Kwillie to ...
Daniel Jones — Yup, here I go again with a middle of the road stance on Jones’ performance. I quite honestly don’t know where to land on this one. There is a lot of good, including some really good throws. There were two more turnovers, though. And, of course, there was Jones falling flat on his face inside the 10-yard line on his 80-yard run. Credit where it’s due, though. The Internet delivered on a Jones meme that pretty much sums up the Giants:
The Giants radio call from Bob Papa and Carl Banks gets a “Kudos.”