They turned in one of their finer performances of an uneven season, crushing the Philadelphia Eagles, 42-7, in their finale in MetLife Stadium.
Despite their largest victory margin in more than three years, the Giants learned within minutes of leaving the field that they had been eliminated from the playoffs when Chicago defeated Detroit.
So the Giants ended the 2012 record with a 9-7 record – the same mark they had last year, when they won the NFC East title and went on to defeat New England in Super Bowl XLVI.
But this year’s team was doomed by any number of factors, including a) division road losses to Philadelphia and Washington by a combined three points, b) a home loss to Pittsburgh in which the Giants wasted a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, and perhaps most significantly, c) their awful performances the previous two weeks while losing in Atlanta and Baltimore.
The defeats the past two weeks cost the Giants control of their own playoff fate and left them needing not only a victory over the Eagles, but the results of three other games to break in their favor. When the first one didn’t – Chicago’s victory – the Giants were done.
“The first thing is you never rely on anyone else in this business,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “You have to take care of your own business. And we certainly had our chances. So, that will be the number one thing I’ll talk to the team about tomorrow.”
“Not every game is going to work out the way it did today and we lost some tough games, and mostly to good teams – to playoff teams or in contention – we just didn’t win some of those close ones, we didn’t win some of the tight ones,” Manning said. “At the end versus Philly and in Washington it would have been helpful, but even with that, we knew what the circumstances were a few weeks ago. We knew what we had to do to get into the playoffs and we didn’t play well enough under those circumstances – at Baltimore, in Atlanta – to get a win in both of those spots that ultimately knocked us out of the playoffs.”
Every corner of the locker room housed an unlikely mixture of satisfaction and regret – the former for the dominating a rival that had won eight of the previous nine games between the teams and the latter for the lost opportunity to defend their title in the playoffs.
“We put ourselves in that predicament to need a lot of help,” defensive end
“It’s frustrating, and it will be for quite some time,” guard
The Giants will finish second or third in the NFC East, depending on the result of Sunday night’s Dallas-Washington game. If the Redskins win, the Giants will be second; a Dallas victory will drop the Giants to third.
On Sunday, the Giants took out their frustrations on the Eagles, who lost for the 11th time in 12 games and finished 4-12.
Manning threw two touchdown passes to rookie
Manning said the five touchdown passes meant little in the way of consolation.
“You always want to play well,” he said. “There’s no enjoyment in not going to the playoffs.”
The Eagles scored on Michael Vick’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin.
The Giants scored touchdowns on each of their first four offensive possessions – for the first time since Oct. 11, 2009 – and Manning threw four touchdown passes as they raced to a 35-7 halftime lead. It was their highest-scoring first half since they scored 35 points at Seattle on Nov. 7, 2010 and their largest halftime lead they since they were ahead in that game, 35-0.
Manning threw three touchdown passes in an opening quarter for the first time in his career to give the Giants a 21-0 lead at the end of the first period. It was their first three-touchdown lead at the end of a first quarter since the 2010 game in Seattle.
The game actually began unfavorably for the Giants, as Philadelphia’s Brandon Hughes recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff at the Eagles’ 47-yard line.
But the momentum turned on the game’s fifth snap, when
After an Eagles punt, the Giants took possession of the ball on their own 26-yard line. Bradshaw’s 17-yard run gave the Giants a first down at the Philadelphia 38. On the next snap, Randle got a step on Nnamdi Asomugha on the left side, caught Manning’s pass at the five and rolled into the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 6:24 remaining in the quarter.
Randle caught four passes for 58 yards.
“It’s key,” he said of his performance. “You want to go into next season confident and giving confidence also to the coaching staff and the players around you. So my job was to go out there and make the plays when my number was called.”
The Eagles went three-and-out and Mat McBriar’s punt was downed at the Giants’ 25-yard line. On third-and-four, Manning threw to Bradshaw, who took off down the field and turned the play into a 41-yard gain to the Eagles’ 28-yard line. Wilson moved the ball to the 15 with a 13-yard run before scoring his first NFL receiving touchdown as he secured Manning’s pass on the front right side of the end zone. That gave the Giants a 21-0 lead with 1:18 remaining in the quarter.
Philadelphia scored its first points with 12:06 remaining in the second quarter when Vick threw a seven-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Maclin to complete an 11-play, 80-yard drive. The big play was a 15-yard Vick pass to Jason Avant on fourth-and-10, which gave the Eagles a first down on the Giants’ 16-yard line. Maclin scored four plays later.
The Giants quickly pushed their cushion back to 21 points, as Bradshaw’s short touchdown run on the ensuing possession made it 28-7. The Giants drove 73 yards in 10 plays and were helped by two Eagles penalties, including a pass interference infraction on Asomugha just prior to the touchdown.
The big plays on the drive were 12-yard gains on consecutive snaps, the first a run by Bradshaw, the second a Manning pass to Cruz.
Late in the quarter, Philadelphia kicker Alex Henery flubbed a 28-yard field goal attempt.
On the Eagles’ next possession, Andy Reid again tried to convert on fourth down, but Vick’s four-yard completion to Maclin came up a yard short at the Giants’ 46-yard line with 17 seconds to play.
The Giants needed only 13 seconds to cover that distance. On first down,
Manning threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Hynoski with 6:51 remaining in the game to increase the lead to 42-7. It was Hynoski’s first career touchdown and the only score of the second half.
A few minutes later, the Giants were in their locker room when they learned their season had ended, far earlier than they had hoped.
“It’s a terrible feeling,” tackle
“It’s unfortunate,” defensive end
That’s what they’ll have to take into the offseason.