Three Giants writers discuss their takeaways from Sunday's 34-29 loss:
Our writers break down the Giants' 34-29 loss to the NFC-leading Eagles in Week 15.
All season, as pundits analyze the Giants record, they have tried to explain it by pointing a finger at the offense and simply saying, "It's their fault! They don't score enough!" No one is saying the Giants offense hasn't struggled at times this season, but it is far more complicated than that. The loss to the Eagles showed why.
The Giants played what was probably their best offensive game of the season against the Eagles, but still lost. They had 504 yards of offense, including 434 through the air from Eli Manning, but it still wasn't enough. The Giants had three kicks blocked in the game. A blocked field goal and extra point, if executed properly, would have had the game tied at 34 at the end of the game. A blocked punt gave the Eagles the ball at the Giants 18, which led to an eventual touchdown.
You have to get good play in all three facets to win football games. The offense has to score. The defense has to get stops at critical points in the game. Special teams has to help you win the battle of field position and put points on the board. Throughout the season, a different facet has faltered at the worst possible time. It isn't just one unit; it's all three. Until all three play in unison, the Giants will continue to have trouble putting check marks in the win column.
After having to fight tooth and nail for every yard this season – and much of last – you know it felt good for Eli Manning, as well as the offensive coaches and players, to let it rip on Sunday against the team with the best record in the NFL. They weren't rewarded in the final score, but they finally saw the fruits of their labor in the box score, which included the most productive first half of Manning's career in terms of yards and the team's biggest offensive output since the 2015 season finale – also against Philadelphia. The wide receivers stepped up, something they had not done consistently done since Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall went down.
But the margin of error is miniscule for this Giants team. The Eagles hit the trifecta with a blocked field goal, extra point, and punt, on top of foiling a two-point conversion attempt by the Giants that would have tied the game late in the third quarter. Tack on Bobby Hart's false start before the Giants' last play, and that's how one team locked up a first-round bye and the other fell to 2-12.
The game of field position is crucial, no matter who you are playing, but given the Giants' struggles on offense this season, it has been a constant topic of discussion and Sunday against the Eagles was no different. In a game the Giants put together their best offensive performance of the season, field position still came back to bite them. Philadelphia entered Sunday as the number one scoring offense in the league, averaging 31 points per game. In comparison, the Giants were 31st with just 15 points per contest. That disparity alone is why you cannot give gifts to a team like the Eagles, yet that happened twice in the first half, which ultimately proved to be a huge difference maker.
With the Giants leading, 20-7, midway through the second half, Eli Manning was picked off by Eagles corner Ronald Darby. Thanks to Darby's 37-yard return, the Eagles took over at the Giants 20-yard line and a few plays later, found the end zone. On the next Giants possession, after the offense went three and out, Brad Wing's punt was blocked, and this time the Eagles took over at the Giants 18-yard line. The result: another Philly touchdown. The Eagles took advantage of two short fields and quickly turned a 13-point deficit into a one-point advantage. The field position game was also evident in the second half after the Eagles blocked a 48-yard field goal attempt by Aldrick Rosas. Yet another key special teams play handed Philadelphia the ball on its own 38-yard line, and it once again capitalized and converted that field position into a fourth quarter field goal to pad the lead to five at 34-29, which was the ultimate final score.