*Coach Ben McAdoo reviews the Giants' loss to the Eagles after watching the game tape: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – In his nine NFL seasons, Jonathan Casillas has learned some hard lessons. At the top of the list is that winning an NFL game isn't easy.
That point was driven home to the Giants' linebacker and defensive captain again yesterday, when two fourth-quarter leads evaporated and his team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-24, in Lincoln Financial Field. Rookie kicker Jake Elliott kicked a 61-yard field goal as time expired to give Philly the victory. The defeat dropped the Giants to 0-3.
"When I first got in the league, a long time ago, they always say the first one's a hard one," Casillas said after the game. "Sometimes it comes Week 1. Sometimes it don't come for a while. I was on the team when it didn't come until Week 8, and you know that's really tough (actually, his 2013 Buccaneers started 0-8). Of course, we don't want to get there. We're approaching Week 4 (and a game at Tampa Bay) right now, and we're hoping to get a W this week. And we got to put everything, all eggs in one basket, focus on the details and try to get that win."
To get it, they will almost certainly have to play better than they did in the final minute yesterday, when breakdowns by the offense, defense and special teams enabled the Elliott to kick both the tying and game-winning field goals in the final 51 seconds.
"We haven't played a complete football game and clean football in all three phases, and we really haven't earned a win yet," coach Ben McAdoo said today on a conference call. "It's all correctable and we need to stay positive, but realistic and understand that we need to learn from these first three games and find a better way to play team football."
The Giants have several positive developments to build on. Their 24 points – all of them put up in the fourth quarter – were 11 more than they had in the first two games combined. Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes in 5:27, enabling them to go from a 14-0 deficit to 21-14 lead. Manning threw for 366 yards and wasn't sacked. Odell Beckham, Jr. (two touchdowns), Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard (a 77-yard catch-and-run score) combined for 24 catches and 278 yards. A quick release helped Manning avoid getting sacked, after he was taken down eight times in the first two games.
When they took a 24-21 lead on Aldrick Rosas' 41-yard field goal, the Giants needed only to keep the Eagles from scoring to enjoy that elusive first victory. But it was not to be.
Philadelphia overcame a 15-yard facemask penalty on wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, drove from its own 25-yard line to the Giants' 28, and tied the score on Elliott's 46-yard field goal with 51 seconds remaining.
The Giants' worst-case scenario then seemed to be overtime. But two penalties, the clock stopping when Shane Vereen stepped out of bounds, and a 14-yard completion to Evan Engram on third-and-15 forced them to punt. Brad Wing's punt traveled just 28 yards, giving the Eagles possession at their own 38 with 13 seconds left.
"It looked like he just missed it," McAdoo said of Wing's punt.
Carson Wentz's first-down pass was incomplete. But on second down, the Giants inexplicably enabled Jeffrey to catch a 19-yard pass and step out of bounds with a second left, which is all Elliott needed to kick the longest field goal ever in a Giants game.
"We need to be detailed with the way we carry out our responsibility, the whole way around, and really look no farther than the end of the ballgame, where each of the three phases played a part," McAdoo said. "Shows you how precise we need to be on third down. We were just short of the sticks. We had a punt for 28 yards. Philly gets the ball. We called a timeout, talked about playing the ball on the boundary and they complete the ball and kick a 61-yarder to win the game. Tough lesson to learn.
"We keep learning hard lessons on things we already know the answers to. When things go well, sometimes everything falls your way. When they don't, we need to tighten up our football and play clean complimentary football."
The Giants clearly need to improve when either side runs the football. They are last in the NFL in rushing offense (48.7 yards a game) and rush defense (153.3). McAdoo would also like an improvement in their third-down conversion percentage, which is currently 32.4. And he wants the players to focus only on the 1-1 Buccaneers, and not on the big picture.
"I think number one is we can't worry about playoffs this week, we just have to get a win," McAdoo said. "That's number one. We can't accomplish going to the playoffs or getting a playoff berth or anything like that this week. All we can focus on is the way we prepare so we can go down and perform well in Tampa. It's going to be a tough ballgame. It's going to be another warm one. That's where our focus needs to be. We can only focus on what we can control, and that's the way we prepare."
*McAdoo declined to comment directly on the celebration that earned Beckham an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after his first touchdown. But he did discuss the repercussions from such an act.
"We should be talking about the way he played – he made some great plays in the ballgame yesterday," McAdoo said. "Some tremendous plays, game-changing plays. I'd rather be talking about that than the celebration penalty. It's real simple, I don't want to kick off from the 20-yard line. It doesn't help our team. It makes it tough on the players who are covering kicks, and makes an impact on field position."
*Late in the second quarter, the Giants had a fourth-and-goal at the one when Orleans Darkwa took a handoff, was quickly swarmed by the Eagles defense, and lost a yard.
"I need a better call there on the fourth down on the one-yard line," McAdoo said in his opening statement. Asked later to elaborate, he said, "they were all hunkered down in there, whether you had a fullback on the field or not. It was going to be tough sledding. Like I said, I would like to have that call back. We did have some opportunities for one-on-ones on the outside. I take responsibility for that call. … They had better angles than we had. Getting into something that gives you a little better chance, little better angles. Put the big guys in a bad spot there."
The Giants lost a first down on a seven-yard pass to Paul Perkins on a third-and-two with just over three minutes remaining when John Jerry was penalized for delay of game, a rare infraction for a guard. Jerry impeded defensive tackle Elijah Qualls, who was trying to get off the field as the Giants ran their hurry-up offense. Manning's subsequent pass fell incomplete, and Rosas came on to kick his 41-yard field goal.
"I just saw the TV copy (of Jerry's penalty) this morning," McAdoo said. "I am going to have to have a conversation with him. I don't know if it was just a natural reaction to a lineman running in front of his face or what it was. But I am going to have to have a conversation with John and see what he was thinking there. I have never seen that before. So, we'll have to talk about it."
*Defensive end Olivier Vernon has an ankle injury, and Darkwa a back ailment. "It's still early in the week, we'll have to see (Vernon) responds throughout the course of the week to treatment. And Darkwa is still getting examined."
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