PHILADELPHIA – Brian Daboll needed only a few words to summarize the Giants' final game of the 2022 season.
"We got beat soundly," Daboll said. "We got outcoached. We got outplayed. And that all starts with me."
That about covers it. The top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions, led by 28 points at halftime and cruised to a 38-7 victory over the sixth-seeded Giants in an NFC Divisional Playoff Game in Lincoln Financial Field. Although the Giants won 10 games and constructed a sturdy foundation for the future, this was a painful ending.
"I told them, 'Keep your heads up,'" Daboll said of his postgame address to the players. "They competed hard. It's a crash landing in the playoffs. Any time you lose, it hurts because of the amount of effort and energy that you put into it each week. And when you lose this time of year, it hurts even more. You work extremely hard to get to this point. You're blessed to get to this point. It's hard to do and give Philly credit. They did everything better than we did tonight."
The only victory the Giants enjoyed all night was the coin toss as the Eagles literally dominated from start to finish. They took the opening kickoff and cruised down the field to score just 4:54 into the game. And they scored their final points with 1:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. Most of the 53 minutes in between were more of the same as the Eagles became the first team ever to beat the Giants three times in a season.
"They are a good team, good defense, good front, and a good secondary," said quarterback Daniel Jones, who threw an interception in Philadelphia territory on the Giants' second possession. "Give a lot of credit to them because they played well. … We didn't execute well enough early on. We didn't score points and the turnover was critical. We fell behind and they are a good team. We got off to a slow start and they pushed back."
"You have a great week of preparation, you don't expect the game to go like this," running back Saquon Barkley said. "They're the number one team in the NFC for a reason. They're a challenging team. They got the best of us the three times they played us. You've got to give respect to them, to those guys."
The Eagles feasted throughout the game. They rushed for 268 yards, the highest total ever allowed by the Giants in a postseason game. The Detroit Lions held the former mark of 246 yards since the 1935 NFL Championship Game. The Giants ran for only 118 yards and were outgained by 189 yards (416-227, just two yards more than their season low, set in Seattle on Oct. 30). Philadelphia had twice as many first downs (26-13), its 10 successful third-down conversion were three more than any other Giants opponent this season, and the Eagles committed no turnovers.
"You never want to go out like how we did today," left tackle Andrew Thomas said. "You never want to lose. So, to play like how we did today is not a great feeling. I feel like we could have done better."
He certainly heard no dissent from any of his teammates or coaches.
On the second play of the game, Jalen Hurts completed a 40-yard pass to DeVonta Smith. Six plays later, tight end Dallas Goedert eluded safety Xavier McKinney, caught a Hurts pass and spun away from Julian Love's attempted tackle on his way to a 16-yard score.
The Giants reached Philadelphia's 35-yard line on their first offensive series. But Jones was sacked for a five-yard loss on third down and Daboll made the decision to go for it on fourth-and-eight. But Jones was sacked for an eight-yard loss by Haason Reddick, ending the possession.
"I didn't struggle with it," Daboll said. "I wanted to be fairly aggressive. Where we're at was too far out to kick a field goal, and I liked the play that (offensive coordinator Mike) Kafka was going to call and went for it."
The Eagles responded with another eight-play scoring drive that ended with Smith's nine-yard touchdown reception on a wide receiver screen. On the Giants' second play of their ensuing possession, Jones' pass for Darius Slayton was intercepted by former Giants cornerback James Bradberry, further inflaming the already raucous crowd.
"That team, you don't want to let them get ahead of you and let those dogs eat," center Jon Feliciano said. "Unfortunately, that's what happened tonight."
"I think all year long, they were a team that was really good at starting fast," Love said. "We had to do the same, and we didn't today. Third down, red zone, all it takes to succeed in football, we didn't do that well early. So, the score early showed because of those huge situational moments."
After the teams exchanged punts, the Eagles marched 63 yards in nine plays, the last Boston Scott's three-yard touchdown run up the middle. Scott has scored 11 of his 19 career touchdowns, including postseason scores, against the Giants.
With just 43 seconds remaining in the first half, Hurts effectively put the game out of reach with a five-yard touchdown run.
The Giants needed to score quickly in the third quarter, but on their second possession embarked on a methodical 10-play, 88-yard drive that took 6:01 to complete. The big play was Barkley's game-long 39-yard run on third down. On first-and-goal from the eight, they used a little gadgetry as Jones went in motion to the right and Barkley fielded Feliciano's snap and handed the ball to Matt Breida, who scored on a run through the left side.
But after the Giants punted on their next possession, Philly held the ball for almost eight minutes before Jake Elliott's 30-yard field goal made it 31-7. The Giants turned the ball over on downs before the Eagles, just running the clock out, added insult to defeat when Kenneth Gainwell went around left end for a 35-yard touchdown. He rushed for a game-high 112 yards.
"Disappointed," Daboll said when asked to describe his feelings. "I wish I could've done a better job. I feel like crap. It's as honest as I can be. You work extremely hard to get to this spot. You do not take it for granted. This is a hard place to get to, this divisional round to move forward. I feel more for the players and the coaches because we've put everything we have into it. We just didn't get it done."
View photos from the Giants' Divisional Round playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles.