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Giants unable to complete comeback in Philadelphia

ADOREE-JACKSON

PHILADELPHIA – The Giants can't even enjoy Christmas when they must spend it in the city that never shows them any love.

But they didn't go down quietly or easily Monday evening in Lincoln Financial Field. Trailing by 17 points after a first half in which their lone score was a 52-yard field goal, the Giants were behind by just two points entering the fourth quarter and had a chance to tie the game on the final play.

They couldn't complete the comeback as Tyrod Taylor's pass was intercepted in the end zone by rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo. The Giants were hit with a double whammy, their losing streak at the Linc stretching to 11 games and their elimination from the playoff race official.

And they also have quarterback uncertainty entering their final two games after coach Brian Daboll replaced Tommy DeVito with Taylor at the start of the third quarter.

"Just tried to spark the team," Daboll said. "I don't really have anything else to add to that. I just did it to try to spark the team."

Daboll did not say who will start Sunday, when the Giants host the Los Angeles Rams. Their final game is at home against the Eagles.

"I'm just worried about tonight here," Daboll said. "We'll talk about that here this week."

DeVito completed nine of 16 passes, but they gained just 55 yards. And as Daboll pointed out at his postgame news conference, the Giants were one-for-8 on third downs in the first half.

"It's tough," said DeVito, whose three victories and unlikely personal story – how many NFL quarterbacks live with their parents? - have made him page one news in the metropolitan area. "It's just a constant reminder that it's a business. They're always going to try to find someone to replace you, wherever it is. At the same time, it is a business. It's your job. I respect it. There's no hard feelings one way or another. I was hoping (Taylor) was going to go out there and ball and we win the game. It's nothing more than that. That's all it is."

Taylor, who suffered a rib injury on Oct. 29 that gave DeVito his opportunity, hit seven of 16 passes for 133 yards, the longest a 69-yard catch-and-run touchdown to Darius Slayton. The Giants were 3-for-6 on third down with Taylor at quarterback.

"My decision is to be ready when my number is called, and I think that I proved that tonight," Taylor said. "I will continue to keep preparing whether it is me moving forward or not. My mood or my attitude doesn't change based on circumstances. I am the same person. I am the same leader each and every day."

The Eagles dominated a first half that ended with them owning a 20-3 lead. Britain Covey's 54-yard punt return set up the Eagles on the Giants' 13-yard line and on Philly's second offensive play, Jalen Hurts, with assistance from numerous teammates both in front and behind him, scored from one yard out. It was his 15th rushing touchdown, a single season record for NFL quarterbacks.

New Giants kicker Mason Crosby countered with a 52-yard field goal before Jake Elliott's 28-yarder pushed the Eagles' lead back to seven points. After the Giants went three-and-out, Hurts connected with wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who ran untouched through the Giants' secondary for a 36-yard touchdown.

The half ended strangely. With no available timeouts, Hurts gained nine yards running up the sideline. But instead of stepping out-of-bounds and stopping the clock, he cut back inside, where he was tackled by Bobby Okereke. Time likely would have expired, but Okereke was slow getting up and was penalized for delay of game. The stoppage gave Elliott an opportunity to kick a 21-yarsd field goal that stretched the Eagles' halftime advantage to 20-3.

Okereke said he was not thinking about staying on Hurts until the clock hit all zeroes.

"No, no shot," he said. "I was thinking about punching the ball out, especially because he's running out of bounds, and he cuts across again. That's the first instinct. Once one of my defenders is in front of him, he's cutting back. He's not thinking about me on the inside pursuit. I just punched the ball, and I thought I had it out. That's why I was fighting for it so much, but they made the call they made, and I stand with it."

The weirdness continued on the second half kickoff, when returner Boston Scott lost a fumble that was forced by … his teammate, Olamide Zaccheaus, who inadvertently collided with him. The ball was recovered by Isaiah Simmons at Philadelphia's 14-yard line. Taylor handed off on three consecutive plays to Saquon Barkley, who scored from seven yards out to make it 20-10.

Late in the quarter, Philly tight end Dallas Goedert slipped trying to catch a Hurts pass. Cornerback Adoree' Jackson intercepted the ball and sprinted 76 yards up the sideline for his first career touchdown. When Barkley ran for the 2-point conversion, the Giants trailed by just two, at 20-18.

"I was surprised," Jackson said of finding the ball in his hands. "I don't know what would have happened if he didn't slip. But I was breaking on the ball like I was going to get it. Once he slipped - I think that surprised me more. I'm like, 'The ball is still coming. Let me lock in.' I'm glad I caught it up higher. It hit my hand and I was able to catch it and then go from there."

D'Andre Swift, who rushed for a game-high 92 yards, capped the Eagles ensuing possession with a 7-yard touchdown run. The Giants gave up the ball on downs, leading to Elliott's 44-yard Field goal and a 30-18 lead.

But just as it seemed – again – that Philadelphia would win comfortably, the Giants responded. Taylor threw to the left for Slayton, who outraced safety Reed Blankenship to the end zone for the 69-yard score. The Giants' longest offensive play in more than three years closed the gap to 30-25.

That's when Swift took over. He gained 43 yards carrying the ball on seven consecutive plays, setting up Elliott's fourth field goal, a 25-yarder for a 33-25 Philadelphia advantage.

The Giants took possession at their 25-yard line with 1:10 to play. Taylor connected with Darren Waller for 12 yards on third-and-10 to keep the march moving. More dramatically, they hooked up for a 20-yard gain on fourth-and-eight. Waller hurt his back when he was hit by Ringo, but Taylor was able to spike the ball at the Eagles' 26 to stop the clock with four seconds remaining. But his last pass to Barkley was picked off by Ringo.

Afterward, the Giants weren't dwelling on the defeat or the quarterback switch, but on the fight they showed throughout the second half.

"We know who we are," Barkley said. "We're a team that's never going to give up and that's always going to fight. You've got to find a way to win games. That's the truth and that's all of us. I believe in not pointing the finger and pointing at them and go back and watch film and see what I can do better myself and it starts with me."

"We felt like we had them on the ropes for sure, especially that drive early in the fourth quarter where they were backed up and they had a couple of penalties," Okereke said. "It was first-and-20 and second-and-15, that long third down conversion (a 32-yard pass on third-and-20) hurt us pretty bad. That's a great offense we went against, very dynamic running backs, obviously a champion quarterback, their offensive line played really well today, so hats off to them.

"It was a close game at some points throughout the game. At some points, I felt like momentum was really on our side. I think we showed great team fight, but at the end of the day, we didn't execute well enough. At the end of the day, they made more plays than we did."

View photos from the Giants' Week 16 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Day.

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