Perhaps the Giants should consider letting the Eagles take a lead when they visit Philadelphia next year. Because strange things happen when they play that opponent and especially in that city.
For the third consecutive season, the Giants took a double-digit lead in Lincoln Financial Field. This one – 11 points with less than five minutes remaining – looked particularly secure.
But it proved not to be. The Eagles scored two touchdowns in the final 4:38, including Boston Scott's game-winning reception with just 40 seconds remaining, to send the Giants to a heartbreaking 22-21 loss.
It was the Giants' eighth consecutive loss to the Eagles and seventh in a row in Philly, where they held leads of 16 points in 2018 and 14 points last year.
"Ultimately, (we had) too many turnovers and penalties," coach Joe Judge said. "There are things we have to eliminate and things we have to improve on down the second half of the season. These are things that held us back tonight. We've got to give credit where credit is due, and they made plays down the stretch. We have to make more plays ourselves."
"We just have to close out the games," said safety Jabrill Peppers, who was covering Scott on the deciding touchdown. "We had chances to close out the game and we did not execute. That's all it is."
It is that and so much more. The Giants contributed to their undoing down the stretch with a critical dropped pass, a defense that allowed completions of 59 yards on one touchdown drive and 30 yards on another, and seven penalties in the last six minutes.
The Giants, who next play on Monday, Nov. 2 against Tampa Bay, fell to 1-6. Philadelphia improved to 2-4-1.
Daniel Jones threw touchdown passes of 39 yards to Golden Tate in the first quarter and two yards to Sterling Shepard in the fourth. Wayne Gallman leaped into the end zone from a yard out in the third quarter.
Jones completed 20 of 30 passes for 187 yards in his first start in Philadelphia, but his contribution that will be long remembered was an 80-yard run – the longest by a quarterback in Giants history – that would have been an 88-yard touchdown had he not stumbled. Jones' run – which is five yards longer than any pass he has completed – set up Gallman's touchdown.
But Jones also threw an interception that glanced off Evan Engram's hands, and later in the second quarter, running back Dion Lewis lost a fumble.
The Eagles scored on a one-yard run by Carson Wentz – who threw for 359 yards – a three-yard touchdown pass to Greg Ward, Scott's score and a 31-yard field goal by Jake Elliott, who also hooked a 29-yard attempt. Philadelphia did not score on either of its two-point conversion tries.
The Giants appeared to be in commanding position midway through the fourth quarter. They held the ball for 7:50 on a 15-play, 97-yard drive that ended with Shepard's two-yard touchdown reception. Shepard, playing his first game since suffering turf toe in Chicago in Week 2, gave the Giants a seemingly safe 21-10 lead with 6:17 remaining.
Then things started getting funky. On the Eagles' next possession, Wentz's 59-yard pass to rookie wideout John Hightower gave them a first down at the 14. One penalty and two plays later, Wentz zipped a three-yard touchdown pass to Ward. After the conversion attempt failed, it was 21-16 with 4:38 left.
The Giants had a chance to clinch the game by holding the ball for the remaining time. When Gallman ran for consecutive first downs and the Eagles were forced to use a timeout at 2:59, the visitors seemed to have re-seized the momentum. But Gallman was stopped for no gain, setting up a third-and-seven with 2:14 left. Jones lofted a pinpoint pass that hit the fingertips of Engram and dropped to the ground, forcing the Giants to punt.
"Got the look we wanted, man look, won on the inside fade, D.J. threw a great ball, just didn't finish the play," Engram said. "Yes, 100 percent, I got to make that.
"It's tough, you know. Don't want to be on the short end of a turnover. I got to be better with mechanics and small things. It sucks. It's a sucky feeling right now, just got to get back to work and correct the mistakes."
The Eagles started their final drive on their 29 after Corey Ballentine was penalized 15 yards for lowering his head to initiate contact on punt returner DeSean Jackson. In the next few moments, Wentz threw to tight end Richard Rodgers for 30 yards, James Bradberry was penalized for pass interference, Scott gained 16 yards on a pair of runs – the Giants took a timeout after each – and Logan Ryan was flagged for defensive holding, giving Philly first down at the Giants' three.
A facemask penalty on center Jason Kelce moved the Eagles back to the 18. But on the next play, the 5'6 Scott – who scored three touchdowns against the Giants last December – got a step on Peppers running up the right side and caught Wentz's pass to give Philadelphia a one-point lead.
"Man to man coverage," Peppers said. "I was checking and making sure that he wasn't trying to run anything underneath or outside. I felt like I was in good position. I just have to play the hands better. It was a good ball, so that was definitely on me. No ifs, ands or buts about it."
As one of the team captains and a vocal leader, Peppers believes he should have helped stop the bleeding when the Eagles were rallying.
"Absolutely, and that's why it hurts," he said. "We felt like we got a good enough lead. We can close it out. With everything that happened in the game, we were still in a position to close out the game and I didn't make the play. It hurts, but I'm a man, I'll take it on the chin. I'll learn from it and make sure that it never happens again."
"It's definitely a tough one to swallow," linebacker Blake Martinez said. "I think for us, you obviously have to check the tape before anything, but I hate to say it, but it's the same thing over again, just lapses, one guy here, one guy there, just doing our job."
The Giants still had a pulse when they took possession at their own 25 with 40 seconds left. But on the second snap after a holding penalty, Jones was blindsided by Brandon Graham, who forced a fumble that was recovered by Vinny Curry, effectively ending a game the Giants firmly believe they should have won.
"The focus isn't on frustration; the focus is on correcting mistakes and moving forward," Judge said. "That's really where we have to steer it as a team. We've played enough ball at this point and we should know what we have as a team. We should understand how we have to play as a team. We know we have to be a team that's got to grind out wins. We have to do things just a little bit tougher, and that's alright. We're okay with doing it that way. We have put ourselves in a good position in a lot of games now. We've got to control the things that we can control, and that comes down to the penalties and turnovers. We have to do a better job of that as a team to make sure we're giving ourselves the opportunities to capitalize on the work that we're putting in."