EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In what could be Tom Coughlin's last game as the head coach of the New York Giants, Big Blue couldn't defeat their arch rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, losing 35-30 at MetLife Stadium.
The Eagles drew first blood on the first drive of the game, courtesy of a 54-yard touchdown run by former All-Pro running back DeMarco Murray. It was the longest run of the season for Murray.
On the Giants' first drive, Big Blue was able to move the ball up the field thanks to several solid runs by Rashad Jennings. On a third-and-7 at the Eagles' 44-yard line, Eli Manning scrambled from the pocket to the Eagles' 35-yard line for a first down. However, a costly holding penalty on guard John Jerry negated the first down, and after an incomplete pass on the third down retry, New York was forced to punt and downed Philadelphia inside their own 5-yard line.
After a three-and-out by the Eagles, the Giants again were on the move on offense. Thanks to chunk plays by Will Tye and Andre Williams, the Giants were quickly able to get into the red zone, but unable to capitalize. Shane Vereen caught a screen pass and was able to get a first down within five yards of the end zone, but the Giants could not score a touchdown. Josh Brown connected on a 22-yard field goal to put the Giants on the board.
The next Eagles drive would result in another huge play, this time by tight end Zach Ertz. On a no-huddle, shotgun play, Ertz found an open seam up the middle and took it up the field for 60 yards to the Giants' 6-yard line. On the next play, running back Darren Sproles bounced to the outside untouched for another touchdown run.
The third Giants drive started at the end of the first quarter and Big Blue again was able to drive into the Eagles' red zone, but once more settled for a Josh Brown field goal. On a third-and-5 from the Eagles' 7-yard line, Eli Manning was sacked.
However, the Giants would get the ball back quickly. On the Eagles' fourth play of their next drive, Jason Pierre-Paul tipped a Sam Bradford pass attempt into the air, and it was intercepted at the Eagles' 35-yard line by linebacker Jonathan Casillas, the first of his career. The Giants would find the end zone on the ensuing drive, with Will Tye catching an out-route pass and stiff-arming linebacker Mychal Kendricks on his way to a touchdown score, cutting the New York deficit to one point.
But the Eagles would strike back on the next drive, using 16 plays to find the end zone for the third time. The Eagles converted on four third-down plays during the drive, which included several big plays by Ertz and wide receiver Jordan Matthews. On a second-and-goal play, Matthews caught a 4-yard touchdown pass on a fade route to the corner of the end zone, which would extend the Philadelphia lead back to eight points.
The Giants' final drive before the half would result in a 13-play, 80-yard drive capped by a Rashad Jennings touchdown run. The key on this drive was three straight chunk plays courtesy of Shane Vereen, who single-handedly moved the Giants from their own territory into the Eagles' red zone. Vereen totaled 45 yards on this drive alone. Jennings punched it in from the 2-yard line with 13 seconds left in the half, and the Giants went into halftime trailing, 21-20.
The Giants received the ball to start off the second half, but could not take the lead. Jennings broke off a 23-yard run into Philadelphia territory, but Manning failed to keep the ball moving through the air. Brad Wing punted the ball again inside the Eagles' 5-yard line and showed off a nice golf swing.
On the ensuing Eagles drive, Ryan Mathews fumbled on the first play but was downed by contact. Tom Coughlin challenged the play, but the ruling on the field was upheld and the Giants lost a timeout. On the next play, Zach Ertz would catch a 21-yard pass, and Giants safety Brandon Meriweather left the game with a knee sprain after making the tackle. Later on the drive, Murray ran the ball to the left side, but Jasper Brinkley forced a fumble on the tackle and George Selvie recovered it for Big Blue. The Giants would need just one play to take the lead for the first time, as Eli Manning hit Rueben Randle, who beat ex-Giant Walter Thurmond III down the field, on a 45-yard touchdown strike.
The Giants then held the Eagles to a three-and-out on their next drive, highlighted by a Trevin Wade pass deflection on third down. On the ensuing drive, the Giants were able to drive it into the red zone once again, but Eli Manning threw a costly interception to Thurmond. Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin was able to get around left tackle Ereck Flowers to tip the ball, which Thurmond plucked out of the air and returned 83 yards for a touchdown to regain the lead for Philadelphia.
On the next drive, the Giants drove the ball into Philadelphia territory, but Shane Vereen was stopped quickly on a third-down halfback draw play, and New York was forced to punt. The Eagles started the fourth quarter with the ball and a 28-27 lead.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Eagles drove the ball all the way to the Giants red zone, highlighted by a 24-yard catch by Brent Celek over the head of Casillas. On a first-and-10 at the Giants' 19-yard line, Bradford fired a quick slant to rookie wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who collided heads at full speed with Giants cornerback/safety Trumaine McBride, who walked off the field on his own power. On the next play, however, the Eagles would find Jordan Matthews in the end zone again. It was the Eagles' fourth drive of at least 80 yards in the game.
On the ensuing Giants possession, Big Blue was able to cut the deficit to five after a 48-yard Josh Brown field goal.
The Eagles got the ball back, and the Giants defense was finally able to make a stop, forcing the Eagles to punt the ball with just under two minutes remaining, giving Big Blue a chance to win the game.
The Giants took the field with less than two minutes to go, but couldn't pull it out. Manning was able to convert on one fourth down on a short pass to Beckham, but was unable to convert on a second fourth down attempt to Will Tye. The pass was thrown behind Tye and broken up by linebacker Mychal Kendricks. The Eagles kneeled the ball, and defeated the Giants, 35-30.
What It Means
The Giants finished 6-10 for a second straight season, third in the NFC East. In terms of scheduling, they will play the Rams in London next season and are in position for a top-10 selection in the NFL Draft.
Rashad Jennings continued to be the bell cow for the Giants, rushing for 123 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. Jennings finished the game with 170 yards on the ground, and Big Blue rushed for a season-high 208 yards in the game. In the third quarter, Odell Beckham was able to break the record held Randy Moss for most receiving yards in a player's first two seasons. However, Beckham was limited from making much of an impact in the game, catching just five passes for 54 yards.
A long offseason full of many questions, in terms of possibly both staff and personnel changes. Tom Coughlin's job status should be addressed this week, maybe as soon as tomorrow.