EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – On the day after a defeat that was extraordinary, disheartening and shocking, the Giants today went about their business as they always do hours after a game.
With one notable exception. The players began a three-day break, so they will wait until Monday to review last night's 22-21 loss in Philadelphia with the coaches.
But there was otherwise no change in attitude among the players, who remain optimistic and confident. Nor in coach Joe Judge, who continues to project full faith in his players and his program while adhering to his strict policy of not criticizing individuals.
"I don't think it's harder for any of the players or coaches (to move forward) simply because I know the players and coaches we have in the building," said defensive tackle and captain Dalvin Tomlinson. "Everybody, no matter what the result is, we're going to come in each day and work our hardest."
Judge was a portrait of calm and certitude despite watching the Giants turn a 21-10 fourth-quarter lead into a one-point loss. In the final minute alone, Logan Ryan's defensive holding penalty on a third down incompletion gave the Eagles a first down at the Giants' three-yard line, running back Boston Scott caught the decisive 18-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz, and Daniel Jones lost a fumble to eliminate any chance the Giants had of kicking a last-second game-winning field goal.
The Giants' eighth consecutive loss to the Eagles and seventh straight in Lincoln Financial Field dropped their record to 1-6. Their next game is Monday night, Nov. 2, at home against Tampa Bay. Judge's response to the latest defeat probably differed little than how he would have reacted had the Giants won.
"I've always been very blunt and honest from day one," he said. "Regardless of if it's coming off the field after a hard practice, coming off the field after a win or a loss, they are getting the same personality and feedback regardless. When you do something good, I'm going to highlight it and point it out. When you do something wrong, I'm going to show that to the team as well and make sure we correct it. Everyone has to learn the lesson. In terms of trying to use wins or losses at times to motivate or address players, to me you just have to be consistent on a daily basis. You don't have to wait for the right time to correct someone, the right time to get motivation for somebody. The thing is to be consistent as a coach every day, so the players know what to expect coming in."
The players presented no evidence that the sting of this loss will have anything other than a short shelf life.
"All I can naturally feel is that we're so close to getting over that edge," said running back Wayne Gallman, who gave the team a second-half spark with 54 yards from scrimmage. "I think we're over the edge, I just think we have to fix a couple things. I love this team, I love the position we're in. It's the best team we've had in the past couple of years."
"I think the message is the same," quarterback Daniel Jones said soon after the game. "We have to continue to look at ourselves. We have to be critical of ourselves and improve every week. I think we've done that. I think the team that is playing now is a much different team than the one that started the season. We haven't gotten the results as consistently as we expect. We have to keep improving and keep pushing it forward. Keep progressing as a team. I think that has to be our mindset. It's the only way we are going to get better. I'm confident we have the guys to do it. We just have to stay at it."
Two of the Giants' 55 offensive plays will be remembered by the team's faithful, but not as the players would prefer. The first was Jones' record 80-yard run in the third quarter. It would have been an 88-yard touchdown had he not lost his footing and been downed at the eight-yard line. Gallman scored four plays later to make Jones' stumble moot, but that did not spare him from being a model for memes across the internet.
"I just tried to run faster than I was running and I got caught up," Jones said. "We finished the drive and scored a touchdown. That was a relief to me for sure."
Judge took a clinical approach to the Jones' jaunt.
"I thought he made a nice run," Judge said. "Look, we'd like him to stay up and finish it. He stumbled. That's something you don't want to happen. Internally, that'll be something eventually we'll be able to laugh about. Right now, we'll correct some techniques and things. I thought (offensive coordinator) Jason (Garrett) made a good call at the right time. Daniel did a good job on the mesh as far as hiding that thing, disguising it and pulling it. He made a real nice run to get down there. It was a huge gain for the team, put us in a position to score and the team capitalized on it.
"In terms of the social media part of it right there, look, the internet is undefeated. There are funny things all over the place. You just need to have a sense of humor. When someone sends you something or shows you something, you have to be willing to laugh at yourself sometimes."
The second play was not nearly as harmless or humorous. Owning a 21-16 lead and looking for a first down to effectively clinch the game, Jones lofted a perfectly placed pass to tight end Evan Engram, who had the ball bounce off his hands inside the Eagles' 30-yard line with 2:09 remaining. The Giants had to punt and Philadelphia's offense drove 71 yards in six plays to the game-winning score.
Engram was understandably dejected in his postgame interview – "it's not a good feeling not making that play and possibly putting the game on ice" – and has been the target of social media invective. But Judge stood firmly by his tight end, even when asked, "is there anything wrong with a head coach frankly saying, 'I think he should have caught the ball?'"
"I think everyone has their own style right there," Judge said. "To me, across the board, it's easy to play Monday morning quarterback for a lot of people. We expect our players to perform in critical situations. Evan put us in position to be in that part of the game yesterday with how he performed (tying Sterling Shepard for the team lead with six receptions). I thought he did a good job showing up, he was very productive for us. I like the way he comes to work, prepares and battles. Look, we'll address that internally with how we can do things. I have no complaints on how Evan comes to work, what kind of teammate he is, and what he's helping us build going forward right there. With how some other head coach wants to handle that, that's on them."
Engram's drop was not his first of the season. Must Judge work to keep his tight end's confidence up?
"I'm not going to try and be a psychologist with him," Judge said. "I'm going to let him know right now, he's an important player for us. He makes a lot of big plays. He put us in a position last night be competitive down the stretch. We all have to coach better, we all have to make plays and execute on the field. To me, there is not a player on our team that needs to worry about confidence or these questions about confidence issues. Confidence comes from practice, execution, and then in-game success.
"In terms of Evan as a player, we have all the confidence in him possible. We're going to keep giving him the ball, keep making him the focal point of our offense. We expect him to keep showing up. He did a lot of good things for us last night."
So did the team. They just didn't do enough of them.
*Judge also expressed his continued support for rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas, who returned to the starting lineup and seemed to struggle at times against Philly's strong defensive front.
"He's done a lot," Judge said. "Andrew's a good guy to build with. We have a lot of plans long-term with Andrew. He's the kind of guy we want to work with, both physically and his personality off the field. We have a lot of confidence in Andrew. We're going to keep working with him and developing him going forward. I fully expect Andrew to have a very productive, long career in this league. We enjoy him being a Giant."