Interm head coach Steve Spagnuolo and QB Eli Manning recap Sunday's loss to the Eagles:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Besides going down to the wire for the second time this season with the best team in the NFC, the one positive takeaway from the Giants' 34-29 loss yesterday to the Philadelphia Eagles was the performance of the offense. The Giants posted season-high totals of 504 total yards, 429 passing yards and 27 first downs, while giving the NFL's sixth-ranked defense fits all days.
"I was proud of the way the offense and the team competed all day," Eli Manning said. "Offensively, we had some guys step up, make some plays. I thought the coaches put in a great scheme and the guys executed it well. We've got to build off that and keep being able to make some big plays in the passing game, and be aggressive and execute like we did."
"I think it'll help (the confidence of) all of the guys," said interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo. "Anytime your offense is clicking, certainly it begins with the quarterback. He gets the ball in his hands every snap. I think it's going to help us going forward. I think Mike Sullivan and the offensive coaches have done a really good job of deciding what we needed to do to attack a particular team, and what was going to help our offense and in turn help the team. We didn't get quite as many points two weeks ago, but I thought what they did this week was pretty good against a really good defense."
Manning had his most productive game of the season with 37 completions in 57 attempts for 434 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.
"I was excited going into the week, I knew we had a great plan," Manning said. "A lot of weeks you have great plans, but I really liked what we had and it just got set up well. Sometimes you have those days where you get the right calls versus the right defense, and you feel good about what's going on. We were able to execute it and guys went and made the plays. I knew I could still throw it and I can play at a high level and run this offense."
The goal now is for Manning and the offense to continue posting big numbers in the season's final two games, Sunday at Arizona and Dec. 31 at home against Washington. Each team is 6-8. And the lingering question is, where was this productivity prior to yesterday, when the Giants played seven consecutive games in which they scored no more than 21 points?
"I hope that continues," Spagnuolo said of the liftoff against Philadelphia. "I don't know that I have an answer as to why it hasn't been like that. Again, I go back to last week when I jumped into this thing. Prior to that I didn't have my eyes on the offense, and I probably have to go back prior to the game against Dallas (last week) to answer that question. I just know in these past two games, there's been some things that Mike (Sullivan, the offensive coordinator) has implemented. I think has helped us, and I think everybody has kind of stepped it up and played better. Certainly, Eli getting us in and out of plays helps. Now, he didn't make every decision right. He'll probably tell you that, but hopefully it's a combination of seeing the team we're going to play, and knowing how to attack it and going out there and doing it."
Manning said the offensive scheme hasn't changed dramatically since Sullivan took on a larger role following the dismissal of head coach Ben McAdoo two weeks ago.
"I think it's still the same offense, so I think it's just building off what we've been doing," Manning said. "There's always going to be a few new plays and different things, but that's just kind of based off the opponent and what you did last time against them. It's an opponent we know well, and we played them a bunch in that scheme. So I think he's done a good job just mixing up the tempos on things, and playing fast. We got to run a lot of plays yesterday."
They had 81 offensive snaps, four more than their previous season high at Tampa Bay on Oct. 1. The Giants ran 75 plays last week in their loss to the Cowboys.
"Last time we played Philly (Sept. 24), we played fast, a lot of tempo," Manning said. "There's not changes in the offense, it's the same plays, the same schemes. Each week you're always going to have a few new plays, a few new things to go after them, but I thought Coach Sully put a great plan (together), communicated well and we were able to get some good ideas."
Manning was asked if the offense had played as it did yesterday, if it would have found a rhythm prior to a mid-December game
"We did it earlier in the season," Manning said. "We did it vs Philly, we did it vs Tampa, in those games. I think we were probably doing it vs the Chargers a little bit. After that, we lost some players (to injuries), we were doing more three tight end sets and bigger sets, where it's hard to have that tempo. We wanted to slow things down a little bit and try to run more clock, run more ball and have less plays. But as the weeks have gone on, we just felt the best way to try to help out the offensive line is to play fast, and see if you can slow down some of these pass rushers by playing fast."
The statistics said it worked yesterday. The final score did not. The Giants have two more chances for the more productive offense to help the team win a game.
*Both Spagnuolo and Manning said they could make a case for a pass interference call on the fourth-down incomplete pass to Evan Engram with 43 seconds remaining.
"You could make an argument, (I know) where you're going," Spagnuolo said in response to a question. "I won't make the argument, but I'm just saying that you could make the argument.
"It looked like (Engram's arm was held by Corey Graham). On the coach's tape it kind of looks like that. But he couldn't get it up there. I'm not sure where the positioning of the officials were that they could see it or not. They'd have to answer the rest of that."
"It could have been called, but I didn't think it was an obvious call," Manning said. "They were going back and forth, so we got to throw the ball a little lower and try to make a play. That's football sometimes.
"I could have put the ball a little lower, I guess, to give him a better shot. They had it covered up pretty well. I tried to throw him open and put it up high where he can make a play, it just didn't work out."
*Spagnuolo said safety Darian Thompson was sent for an MRI on his sore knee. "Hopefully, that's just a precautionary thing," Spagnuolo said. "Both Landon (Collins) and B.J. (Goodson) kind of tweaked those ankles, so that's why you didn't see them play at a certain point." Wide receiver Tavarres King, who caught two touchdown passes yesterday, is in the NFL concussion protocol.
*When he arrived home yesterday, Manning watched the big game of the weekend, New England at Pittsburgh. Like millions of viewers, he believed the Steelers had scored the likely game-winning touchdown on Ben Roethlisberger's 10-yard pass to Jesse James with 28 seconds left. Then he watched the slow-motion replay, which resulted in touchdown being nullified because James didn't have full control of the ball when he crossed the goal line.
"I had a feeling they were going to overturn that," Manning said. "You hate it, but when you're watching it live, you don't even think about that not being a catch. But when they run it down, hey, when you go to the ground, you got to finish with the ball in your hand. When it hits the ground and there's movement, that's enough evidence that they're going to reverse that. It is what it is. So I think it's called the same everywhere and those are the rules."
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