PHILADELPHIA – The Giants turned back the clock for one half Monday night, back to a time when their offense executed proficiently and their defense was the best unit on the field. They even had Eli Manning throwing touchdown passes again as they jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead.
But once the second half began, the harsh reality that is their 2019 season hit the Giants square in the jaw. In those final 30 minutes, they scored zero points, gained just 29 yards and punted on six consecutive possessions. The Philadelphia Eagles scored 20 unanswered points – including a pair of late two-yard touchdown receptions by tight end Zach Ertz – to escape rain-swept Lincoln Financial Field with a 23-17 overtime victory.
The Giants tied a franchise record with their ninth consecutive loss and dropped to 2-11. Philadelphia improved to 6-7 and tied Dallas atop the NFC East.
"It got away from us at the end," coach Pat Shurmur said. "Credit to them, they did a good job. They controlled the ball on us in the second half, and we didn't do enough to stay on the field (failing on all six of their third-down opportunities). I think that's the story of the second half with the lead that we jumped out to."
For the first time since Sept. 15, Manning was the starting quarterback, the job he held for 15-plus seasons. He threw two touchdown passes to rookie Darius Slayton in the first half but couldn't lift the offense out of its second-half malaise. The Giants ran only 21 plays in those two quarters. Philly ran 53.
"Just didn't hit the big plays," said Manning, who took over because Daniel Jones was inactive with an ankle injury. "They did a good job playing a little bit more zone in the second half and kind of keeping everything in front of them. We just weren't able to convert on third downs. We had some decent first and second downs, some decent runs and stuff, but just didn't… we had some third and very manageable situations and weren't able to do anything. … Credit to them, they played well in the second half and took away some of our things. We just didn't execute quite well enough."
Manning completed 15 of 30 passes for 203 yards – all but 24 of them in the first half.
"I thought he battled," Shurmur said. "He did a lot of good things."
Slayton caught five passes for a career-high 154 yards – all in the first half - the highest total since Sterling Shepard had 167 yards last year in Atlanta. It was his third two-touchdown game of the season.
The Giants took a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter when Manning threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Slayton – Manning's first completion to the rookie wide receiver. Slayton caught the ball at the Eagles' 28-yard line, spun away from a tackle attempt by cornerback Ronald Darby, and sprinted up the left side to the end zone.
Later in the quarter, Slayton again got the best of Darby for a second score, on his season-long 55-yard reception. Slayton also victimized Darby for a 42-yard catch, giving him the Giants' three longest plays of the night.
"I thought we executed in the passing game pretty well," Shurmur said. "We were making plays and actually getting explosive plays. Slayton had the two touchdowns. We were trying to keep going with that and blend in the run, but we just didn't convert on enough third downs to stay on the field."
Aldrick Rosas kicked a 34-yard field goal to contribute to the Giants' 17-3 halftime lead.
"It felt good what we were doing and in a good rhythm," Manning said. "Saquon (Barkley) was running it well, offensive line was protecting well, guys were getting open. We had a good plan going, and I thought we could keep it going. Obviously, it didn't carry over to the second half."
The Giants seemed to be in a strong position when the half began. Not only did they own a 14-point lead, the Eagles were missing some of their most productive players. Their leading rusher, Jordan Howard, and second-best wide receiver, Nelson Agholor, were inactive. No. 1 wideout Alshon Jeffery left the game in the first half with a foot injury, leaving Philly with just two healthy receivers.
But the Eagles kept charging with previously little-used players. Third-string tight end Joshua Perkins, playing just his second game since joining the roster off the practice squad, caught five passes, matching his total for the entire 2018 season. Running back Boston Scott, who entered the game with 94 rushing yards and one catch, had a team-leading 59 yards on the ground and added six receptions.
And the Giants joined the long list of teams that have trouble stopping Ertz, who caught a game-high nine passes and leads all NFL tight ends with 79 receptions. On third-and-goal from the two, he slipped inside rookie safety Julian Love and scored to cap a 14-play, 85-yard drive and tie the game at 17-17 with 1:53 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Giants had a chance to win in regulation, but Sidney Jones knocked away Manning's third-down pass for Slayton, forcing them to punt.
Manning has played 37 regular-season games in which he led the Giants from a fourth-quarter deficit to victory, including eight in overtime (plus two in NFC championship games). But he never saw the ball in the extra period on Monday. With the rain still falling, Philadelphia took the kickoff and marched 75 yards in eight plays, the last Carson Wentz's pass to a wide-open Ertz in the end zone with 5:10 remaining.
"Definitely frustrating," said Barkley, who touched the ball just eight times in the second half. "Sometimes the game prevents you from being involved. I was ready, the offensive line was ready for if we got the rock back. We were into the mindset that there was going to be a lot of ground and pound, a lot of running the ball … they made a lot of plays and went down and scored."
The Giants will try again to earn their third victory of the season when they host the 3-10 Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Shurmur said he doesn't know if Jones will be ready to play. If not, Manning will get another shot. Like everyone else, he wants to see the team's long losing streak end.
"It's tough," Manning said. "Everybody's frustrated. We work hard and you practice hard, and in a bunch of close games. For whatever reason, we just can't put the game away. Today, that's on us on the offense. We had a lot of opportunities to extend the lead and put it out of reach. We just need to have some longer drives. Even if you're getting field goals, you just need to have some drives and get some points to give our defense a break. We kept them on the field too long."
And the Eagles took full advantage to prevent the storybook finish that Manning and the Giants hinted early they might produce.