The New York Giants went in to Philadelphia with the chance to punch their ticket to the post season.
Instead they leave wondering what might have been. So who were the big winners and losers in the Giants’ loss?
Winner - Dallas Cowboys
As much as it pains me to say this, the Dallas Cowboys are the big winners tonight. With the Giants’ loss they clinch home-field the NFC’s No. 1 seed and advantage throughout the playoffs. For a team that thrives on chewing the clock and forcing opposing offenses out of their game-plan, that is about as big a win as they could possibly have.
Thursday morning the Giants still had the chance to take the division title away from Dallas. Had they won their last two games and Dallas lost theirs the Giants would have claimed the crown based on tiebreakers. But now the Giants have to try for an 11-5 record when they travel to face the Washington Redskins next week while the Cowboys can contemplate resting their starters.
Loser - The Giants’ Offense
No two ways about it.
The GIants’ defense continued to play at a championship level Thursday night, giving up just 17 points and frustrating the Eagles’ offense far more often than not despite missing two of their best players. It probably could have been less had it not been for two bad calls, an unnecessary roughness on Eli Apple and a roughing the passer on Olivier Vernon, that extended Eagles’ drives.
It was the Giants’ offense that lost the game.
They were in position a number of times to win the game, but as they have all too often this season, they failed to execute when they needed to. Far too many drops, receivers not attacking the ball in the air, blockers losing when they absolutely had to win, bad decisions by Manning, and an incredibly ill-timed false start penalty by John Jerry doomed the Giants.
Maybe it’s a good thing. The Giants now have a “mini-bye” week before their next game, a whole ten days to rest, recover, and reflect as they get ready to make their playoff push.
Playing from behind the Giants flashed the high-powered offense that they were known for the previous two years, and despite a trio of turnovers they racked up 470 yards in an astounding 88 plays. However, they still can’t seem to find their way into the end-zone. The Giants showed in Philadelphia that their offense is capable of putting up big yardage and converting tough first downs. However, they need to find a way within their scheme to shake loose the Cover - 2 shells with which defenses have been blanketing them. Continuing to run the ball successfully (112 yards on 24 carries combined from Paul Perkins and Rashad Jennings) will help, but the Giants absolutely need to find a way to score when they have the opportunity. The Giants can’t keep relying on Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard (who have combined for 18 of the Giants’ 33 touchdowns), and need to get other members of the offense involved.
Unless they can do that, the offense will just continue to let the defense down.