The New York Giants had a chance to not only win their first regular-season game against the Eagles since 2013, but to also put them in the NFC East cellar while Big Blue gained some ground in their quest for their slim playoff hopes.
Instead the Giants, who came out looking so dominating in the first half of the game, outgaining the Eagles, 346 to 159 yards and more importantly, outscoring them 19-11 after starting with a 19-3 lead, did what has unfortunately become a pattern for this team almost weekly.
They fell apart.
This wasn’t a case of the Eagles, who remember were decimated by injuries on the defensive side of the ball, necessarily out playing the Giants. Rather, this was a case of the Giants coaching staff getting too cute with some of their decisions.
It started almost right away after the Giants scored on their opening drive, a 13-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Eli Manning to running back Saquon Barkley.
Instead of kicking the extra point, head coach Pat Shurmur elected to go for the 2-point conversion.
“We got a penalty that put us on the 1-yard line. That’s why I liked our chances of getting it there,” he explained.
“I think we had a guy running wide open. So, we just didn’t convert it. I think at that point, it makes sense from the one [yard line]. I was just feeling it. I felt like we had a good play that we were going to use, and so we did it.”
On the play, Manning, who didn’t even see tight end Rhett Ellison open in the end zone, rushed a pass to fullback Eli Penny, the pass falling incomplete.
But that wasn’t the most egregious of the Giants “what the heck?” moments of the day.
Right up there with the questionable decisions made by the Giants head coach was the decision to move away from their hot hand—Barkley, who had 94 rushing yards on nine carries and a rushing touchdown in the first half—in favor of the passing game despite the score still being very much in reach and with plenty of time left.
Barkley would touch the ball just 4 more times and gain just 7 more yards, only received two carries in the third quarter, where he racked up those 7 yards.
“I mean, we’re going to spell him a little bit as we go,” Shurmur said of Barkley. “That doesn’t matter – had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. We’re playing to get him off a couple of reps here and there.”
Further convincing him it would be okay to spell Barkley was the job done by running back Wayne Gallman.
“I think what happened was, we had one series there and we gave it to Wayne Gallman Jr. He did a good job running the ball; spell him a little bit. I think [Barkley] had 13 rushes and seven catches; touched the ball 20 times,” Shurmur said.
“And when we knock ourselves off with penalties, and then sacks, and then all that bad stuff, then you get off schedule trying to get the ball to Saquon and Odell, and the guys that need to touch it.”
Meanwhile in the passing game, Manning completed one pass out of three attempts for minus-2 yards and one sack in that quarter.
There were also the two second-half timeouts the Giants burned under head-scratching circumstances.
The first one came on a third-quarter, 3rd-and-18 play on which a swing pass to running back Wayne Gallman was called and which picked up minus-2 yards.
The second came early in the fourth quarter, the Giants calling the timeout with the Eagles having the ball on a 4th-and-1 on the Giants 42-yard line.
The Eagles would go on to convert on fourth down when quarterback Carson Wentz connected with receiver Nelson Agholor in a 12-yard pass that kept a scoring drive—Elliott’s 43-yard field goal which gave his team the lead for the first time in the game—alive.
After burning their final time out two plays after they wasted the second, the Giants left themselves with no timeouts for their final drive.
Shurmur seemed to blame the crowd noise for being forced to call the timeout on 3rd-and-18. “It was just that the play got in, but it was loud and there was one little thing about the play that didn’t get communicated properly,” he said.
He also admitted that he changed the original play call after the timeout and said he didn’t think about taking a penalty in that situation.
“You’re still trying to get the first down, and so you don’t want to take the penalty and throw your hands up.”
Oh the irony regarding the last part of that statement, right?
Here are some other takeaways from this devastating loss.
*Odell Beckham Jr. wondered after the game why the Giants game plan didn’t include more deep shots against a banged up Eagles defensive secondary which the Saints were able to shred the week before.
“I could not tell you the answer to that,” he said when asked if he was surprised about how the Giants play calling went in the second half. “At this point in my career, I have been through a lot, so nothing really surprises me. I just really do not know the answer to that.”
Beckham clearly sounded frustrated by the path the Giants game plan took.
“Knowing they were struggling (with injuries) in the secondary, personally I would’ve loved to attack them. But that wasn’t in our game plan.”
*People will point to the flag-happy officiating crew as not being of any help to the Giants, and they might have a point to a degree, as what appeared to be a blatant hold on Beckham as he was trying to get into the end zone went uncalled.
But the officials also missed a blatant face mask penalty on Giants edge rusher Olivier Vernon. The Giants finished with 11 penalties for 91 yards, matching their season high from Oct. 28 in a loss to Washington.
The Giants now have 86 penalties for the season. But perhaps the most maddening aspect of this facet isn’t just that the penalties continue to creep up and sabotage them, it’s that one is often left wondering if the coaching staff is adjusting how they’re teaching the players during the week once they find out who the officiating crews are given how some crews tend to be more flag-happy than others.
*Up until this point, Shurmur has done a good job of keeping the locker room together, even with the poor start to the 2018 season.
A big reason for that was that no one was running away with the NFC East crown, leaving the Giants, who entered this game at 3-7, with a chance.
But with the loss, that chance has pretty much evaporated, even though the Giants are still mathematically alive. But given how this game unfolded and the outcome, it’s going to be interesting to see if Shurmur is still able to hold the locker room together or if the players begin to check out.
“It’s hard. Especially when you have the game and you feel the momentum change,” safety Landon Collins said of the momentum shift that sent the Giants down the slide. “You can feel it in your back pocket. But you just have to keep on going. It hurts a lot.”
*The Giants pass rush again came up with a whimper, though a bright spot that has begun to emerge has been the play of interior defensive lineman Mario Edwards, Jr.
Edwards, who was one of the player the Giants picked up off waivers after training camp, recorded a sack, a tackle for a loss, and a quarterback hit this week. In limited action, he now has 10 tackles, 2.0 sacks (one more than Olivier Vernon), and a forced fumble as a defensive interior rusher.
*Speaking of the pass rush, give credit to the Giants defensive secondary, which did a nice job of covering the Eagles receivers down the field. Other than for tight end Zach Ertz, who exploited the linebackers, no Eagles receiving target logged more than 39 yards this week, this largely due to the Giants defensive secondary playing tight coverage and not letting Eagles receivers separate.
*Kicker Aldrick Rosas continues to reward the Giants for sticking with him. Rosas added three more field goals to his season total, making him 23 of 24 for the year. He also booted a 51-yarder, his fourth successful kick of 50 or more yards (out of four attempts) this season.
Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/patriciatraina/2018/11/25/takeaways-from-the-giants-25-22-loss-to-the-eagles/