PHILADELPHIA – Mathematically the Giants are still alive in the race for the playoffs. But their dreams of running the table died on the field in the second half on Sunday afternoon against the Eagles in Philadelphia.
They absolutely blew a game they had well in command, turning a 16-point lead into a heart-breaking, 25-22 loss at Lincoln Financial Field.
They were having no trouble with the Eagles at all for most of the first half. But in the second half, the Giants’ offense shut down. And more importantly, the Eagles just steamrolled the Giants’ defense in the second half.
The defense, in fact, looked exhausted for some reason as the Eagles — 25th in rushing — suddenly found momentum on the ground. The Eagles rushed for a total of 127 yards, including 88 in the second half.
The Giants still had their chances, though. The Eagles faced a 4th and 1 from the Giants’ 42 with 2:39 remaining. One stop and the Giants would have a shot to win the game. But instead, Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor found a hole right in the middle of the Giants’ secondary.
Four plays later, Jake Elliott kicked the 43-yard field goal that won the game.
That loss dropped the Giants to 3-8, a full three games behind the co-division leaders in Washington and Dallas with five games still to play. It’s not impossible, since they do still play both the Redskins and the Cowboys. But they have to climb over three teams to do it and hope that somehow an 8-8 record is enough.
That seems unlikely now.
Here are some more takeaways from the Giants’ terrible loss in Philadelphia …
- Saquon Barkley continues to dazzle and the Giants seem ready to ride him as far as they can. He had 13 carries for 101 yards and seven catches for 41 yards. His best run was his 51-yard touchdown run which came with a big cut near the line of scrimmage and another when his path seemed to be cut off by three Eagles defenders who had him surrounded. Barkley simply burst through them and took off down the field. He is taking Pat Shurmur‘s advice to hit the holes harder. When he does, he tends to be unstoppable.
- Knowing how effective Barkley is makes it more of a mystery why Shurmur took him out of the game plan in the second half. In the third quarter, when the Giants’ offense totaled minus-7 yards, Barkley only carried the ball twice. Wayne Gallman actually carried three times in the third. Overall in the second half, Barkley had only four touches. So much for riding their best player.
- With Barkley relegated to a second-half cameo, the Giants’ offense had 56 second half yards total. In the first half, the Giants had 346. That’s an inexplicable difference, and it obviously put a big strain on the defense.
- Eli Manning‘s numbers were impressive in the first half (19 of 25, 236 yards), but he spent much of it throwing behind his receivers. He did it on his first two passes — one that went behind Sterling Shepard that was almost picked off, and another that TE Rhett Ellison had to reach back and grab. Then he did it in the two-minute drill at the end of the half, including when he was picked off at the goal line by Malcolm Jenkins. The Giants were in range for a 44-yard field goal when he made that pass — a throw down the middle towards Odell Beckham Jr. that never should have been made. Obviously it proved costly in the end.
- The Giants’ offensive line was good again. In fact they were terrific in the first half when they gave Barkley plenty of holes to work with and gave Manning plenty of time. Manning was only sacked twice.
- LB Alec Ogletree is frustrating to watch. He can be taken out of a play too easily and is really spotty in coverage. Early on, he got easily pushed aside on what looked like a long, Josh Adams touchdown run. But it turned out that after he was shoved aside, Eagles center Jason Kelce held him. Then later, he should’ve had Eagles tight end Zach Ertz wrapped up at the 8 yard line, but he was late getting over, slid off him, and Ertz went on to score a touchdown.
- TE Evan Engram injured his hamstring during pre-game warmups and didn’t play, but Ellison did a fine job filling in as a receiver. He proved very effective, catching four passes for 77 yards.
- I’m sure there’s a good analytics argument for this, but it was really a ridiculous decision by Shurmur to go for 2 on the Giants’ first touchdown. They were set to kick the extra point, but a penalty on the Eagles (12 men in the huddle) moved the ball to the 1. Rather than take the easy point, Shurmur got greedy. Worse, he had a bad play call — or at least a bad decision by Manning to throw to covered fullback Eli Penny. The pass was incomplete, the conversion failed, and the Giants overthought themselves out of a point.
- After a shaky first season with the Giants, Aldrick Rosas has turned into a terrific kicker. He was good from 25, 51 and 29 yards on Sunday and is now 23 of 24 on the season with four field goals of 50 yards or more. He’s been basically automatic this season.