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Giants lament missed opportunities to control destiny

DANIEL-JONES-RUN

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Sunday night's rage morphed into Monday's realism.

As they watched their NFC East title and postseason participation hopes dissolve amid Philadelphia's questionable player deployment – quarterback Nate Sudfeld? – Giants players took to social media to express their amazement during the Eagles' loss last night to Washington that ended their season.

But today, after some self-reflection and listening to coach Joe Judge, they conceded their error was letting somebody else decide their fate in the first place.

"I know that we had 16 opportunities to make it happen," safety Jabrill Peppers said on a Zoom call today. "Anytime you put your destiny in another man's hands, it typically doesn't bode well for you. I'm not really angry at what they did. They don't owe us anything. We had countless opportunities to make it happen and we didn't."

"Obviously, we didn't get the result that we needed," tight end Evan Engram said. "That's football. At the end of the day, we had opportunities to help ourselves out in that situation."

The Giants entered Week 17 of the NFL schedule needing a victory against Dallas and a Washington loss in Philadelphia to be playoff participants for the first time since 2016, via their first division title in nine years. They took care of business with a 23-19 victory against the Cowboys in MetLife Stadium. But the Eagles rested numerous injured players and replaced starter Jalen Hurts with Sudfeld early in the fourth quarter of a three-point game.

But they had numerous opportunities to enjoy a more satisfying finish than they received from their 6-10 record. The Giants lost four games by four or fewer points and two more by 10 or less. They lost games in Dallas and Philadelphia and vs. Tampa Bay after leading by at least 11 points, a margin they held against the Eagles in the fourth quarter. Had they made an additional play or two in any of those games, the Giants would be preparing to host the Buccaneers in an NFC Wild Card Game Saturday night.

"We had to win one more," center Nick Gates said. "It's not on the Eagles. We shouldn't have left it up to the Eagles to win the game. We should have put our future in our own hands. One more game early on in the year and we wouldn't have had to be in that situation."

"It was a tough game last night," Engram said. "But we have a lot to be proud of, a lot to build on. We'll take everything we learned this year and everything we gained and all the stuff we went through and build on it going forward."

*Many of quarterback Daniel Jones' 2020 statistics were very similar to those he compiled in his 2019 rookie season. They included pass attempts (448 after 459 the previous year), completions (280, slightly down from 284) and yards (2,943 after 3,027 in 2019). But Jones' 11 touchdown passes were less than half his rookie total of 24.

Jones today expressed optimism that the performances of both the team and he will improve in 2021.

"Throughout the season, I felt like we made considerable improvement week to week," Jones said. "It wasn't a straight incline. There were bumps in the road. There were games that we didn't play as well and took steps back. But I felt like we continued to improve and work through challenges, work through hard times and hard situations. I'm proud of that more than anything that we were able to improve and continue to come together and work together. We'll certainly look to continue to do that."

*The first game Gates ever played at center was the season opener vs. Pittsburgh. A college tackle who also had experience at guard, he started all 16 games at his new position.

"I'm way ahead of what I was in Week 1," Gates said. "You guys saw I wasn't very good for the first four or five weeks. I think it probably didn't click until the Rams game (in Week 4). I got comfortable there after that. I and the team started playing our best ball toward the end of the season."

*The Giants' 2021 opponents are finalized. The NFC East will play the NFC South and the AFC West next season. In addition to home-and-home series with NFC East rivals Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, the Giants will host the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Rams. They will play road games against the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Chicago Bears. The Giants will visit Chicago for the third consecutive season.

The NFL will reportedly add a 17th regular-season game. If so, the Giants are expected to play a team from the AFC East. If the matchup is determined by division ranking, it will be the Miami Dolphins, who, like the Giants, finished second.

The league's 2021 schedule will be announced in the spring.

*The Giants will have the 11th choice in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

*The Giants today signed two exclusive rights free agents to renegotiated contracts and 13 players to reserve/future contracts.

Defensive back Madre Harper and tackle Jackson Barton are the re-signed free agents.

Harper joined the team on Oct. 1 and played in nine games. He had two solo tackles on defense and three tackles plus a fumble recovery (on Nov. 8 at Washington) on special teams.

Barton was claimed off waivers from Kansas City on Sept. 6. He was inactive for 15 games and active but did not play at Cincinnati on Nov. 29.

Those signed to reserve/future contracts are wide receiver Alex Bachman, linebacker Trent Harris, defensive back Montre Hartage and defensive back Jarren Williams, who each appeared in at least one game this season and ended the season on the practice squad. They were joined by four practice squad veterans: quarterback Alex Tanney, defensive back Quincy Wilson, long snapper Carson Tinker and guard Kenny Wiggins. Other practice squad players signed today were tight end Rysen John, running back Taquan Mizzell, defensive tackle David Moa, guard Chad Slade and quarterback Clayton Thorson.

*Many of quarterback Daniel Jones' 2020 statistics were very similar to those he compiled in his 2019 rookie season. They included pass attempts (448 after 459 the previous year), completions (280, slightly down from 284) and yards (2,943 after 3,027 in 2019). But Jones' 11 touchdown passes were less than half his rookie total of 24.

Jones today expressed optimism that the performances of both the team and he will improve in 2021.

"Throughout the season, I felt like we made considerable improvement week to week," Jones said. "It wasn't a straight incline. There were bumps in the road. There were games that we didn't play as well and took steps back. But I felt like we continued to improve and work through challenges, work through hard times and hard situations. I'm proud of that more than anything that we were able to improve and continue to come together and work together. We'll certainly look to continue to do that."

*The first game Gates ever played at center was the season opener vs. Pittsburgh. A college tackle who also had experience at guard, he started all 16 games at his new position.

"I'm way ahead of what I was in Week 1," Gates said. "You guys saw I wasn't very good for the first four or five weeks. I think it probably didn't click until the Rams game (in Week 4). I got comfortable there after that. I and the team started playing our best ball toward the end of the season."

*The Giants' 2021 opponents are finalized. The NFC East will play the NFC South and the AFC West next season. In addition to home-and-home series with NFC East rivals Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, the Giants will host the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Rams. They will play road games against the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Chicago Bears. The Giants will visit Chicago for the third consecutive season.

The NFL will reportedly add a 17th regular-season game. If so, the Giants are expected to play a team from the AFC East. If the matchup is determined by division ranking, it will be the Miami Dolphins, who, like the Giants, finished second.

The league's 2021 schedule will be announced in the spring.

*The Giants will have the 11th choice in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

*The Giants today signed two exclusive rights free agents to renegotiated contracts and 13 players to reserve/future contracts.

Defensive back Madre Harper and tackle Jackson Barton are the re-signed free agents.

Harper joined the team on Oct. 1 and played in nine games. He had two solo tackles on defense and three tackles plus a fumble recovery (on Nov. 8 at Washington) on special teams.

Barton was claimed off waivers from Kansas City on Sept. 6. He was inactive for 15 games and active but did not play at Cincinnati on Nov. 29.

Those signed to reserve/future contracts are wide receiver Alex Bachman, linebacker Trent Harris, defensive back Montre Hartage and defensive back Jarren Williams, who each appeared in at least one game this season and ended the season on the practice squad. They were joined by four practice squad veterans: quarterback Alex Tanney, defensive back Quincy Wilson, long snapper Carson Tinker and guard Kenny Wiggins. Other practice squad players signed today were tight end Rysen John, running back Taquan Mizzell, defensive tackle David Moa, guard Chad Slade and quarterback Clayton Thorson.

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