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Cover 3: Takeaways from Giants vs. Eagles

The Giants.com crew breaks down the 23-17 overtime loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia:

John Schmeelk: Cover 3 allows us to tackle any portion of the game we like, so I decided it would be a good venue to look at the end of regulation on Monday night. The game was tied at 17, and the Eagles had just completed a nine-yard pass to their own 45-yard line to set up a fourth-and-short with 41 seconds on the clock. The pass was completed in bounds and the clock continued to move. The Eagles plan appeared to be to let the clock tick down long enough to where they could attempt a Hail Mary pass as the last play of regulation. The Giants were not going to allow that, so it was only a matter of when they used their timeout.

If the Giants used their timeout with 41 seconds left, the Eagles could have punted it away and given the ball back to the Giants with about 32 seconds left, two timeouts and 40-50 yards to get into field goal range. Despite the Giants issues moving the ball in the second half, it would have been a risk given the Eagles struggles in the secondary this season.

Their other option would have been to go for it. Given Doug Pederson's penchant for being one of the most aggressive coaches in football, this was a very realistic possibility and one the Giants were trying to avoid given their struggles defensively in the fourth quarter. If the Eagles gain that first down, they would have had a timeout remaining and only another 20 or so yards to be in field goal range with more than 30 seconds remaining.

Shurmur wanted to avoid that possibility, so he called a timeout with 19 seconds remaining, which forced the Eagles to punt the ball away and send the game to overtime. As it turned out, the Giants lost the coin toss and never saw the ball anyway, but it was the proper risk given the downside of the Eagles going for it on fourth-and-one on their own 45.

Dan Salomone: Eli Manning and rookie Darius Slayton connected for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the first half of Monday Night Football. In the second half, the entire offense gained just three net yards through the air. The Giants did add 26 yards on the ground for a total of 29 yards after halftime. The Eagles, meanwhile, scored 20 unanswered points, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime. Lance will get into the main culprit – third down – later on, but Monday night was another example of the Giants' inability to string together four quarters of complementary football. In previous weeks, the Giants dug themselves into a hole to begin the game and came close to crawling out. Last night, they fell into one.

"It's frustrating because we work hard and practice hard," said Eli Manning, who started for the first time since Week 2. "We've been in a bunch of close games. For whatever reason, we can't put the game away. [Monday night], I think that's on us as an offense. We had a lot of opportunities to extend the lead and put it out of reach. We just have to have some longer drives, even if we're getting field goals, to give our defense a break. We kept them on the field too long."

Lance Medow: If there's one statistic that has helped define the Giants' 2019 season, it's third down efficiency and that once again held true in Monday night's loss to the Eagles. The Giants were 2-12 (17%) on third down, but that stat lone doesn't tell the whole story. Let's unravel it further by analyzing the down and distance. The Giants faced six (half of their downs) manageable third downs for eight yards or less yet converted just one of them and, to take it step further, went 0 for 5 on downs of seven yards or less. The lone manageable down that was converted was for eight yards thanks to a 55-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton. Actually, both of Slayton's touchdowns were the only third down conversions in the game. Although there was a huge disparity in offensive production in the first and second halves, the third down struggles were across the board and the only thing that mitigated those troubles in the first half were Slayton's scores.

In contrast, the Eagles went 9-21 (43%) on third down and a big reason for that was their ability to deliver on their manageable downs. Case in point, 14 of Philadelphia's 21 third downs were for seven yards or less and it moved the chains nine times in those situations. That's why time of possession was so lopsided in favor of the Eagles (42:51 to 21:59). The Eagles were able to sustain drives whereas the Giants failed to do so. In the second half, the Giants ran 20 plays for just 30 yards. Eli Manning and company had six possessions that all resulted in punts with four three outs and just two first downs. The Giants also had six possessions in the first half, but they ran 32 plays for 204 yards with nine first downs. That production translated to two touchdowns with a field goal and just a pair of three and outs. 

If you can't convert on third down, you can't stay on the field, which leads to a disparity in time of possession and also does no favors for your defense, all well-documented Monday night. The Eagles wore down the Giants' defense in the second half by putting together three lengthy drives that were each at least 10 plays and at least 4:53 plus the game-winning overtime drive that was eight plays for 75 yards in 4:50. In those four drives, the Eagles nearly ran as many plays (43) as the Giants had in the entire game (52). Bottom line: you need at bats to produce and the Eagles batted around the order much more than the Giants did.

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