EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Tom Coughlin surprised absolutely no one with his blunt assessment of the Giants' 2014 season.
"Disappointing," Coughlin said today after the Giants' season-ending 34-26 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. "How else do you want me to say it? Not enough wins, too many losses."
Indeed, there were. The Giants finished 6-10, their second losing season in a row and their first season with double-digit losses since 2004, Coughlin's first with the team.
They awoke Sunday with a three-game winning streak. But the finale became a microcosm of the season. There were a lot of passes from Eli Manning (he finished with a franchise-record 601), exciting heroics from Odell Beckham Jr. (12 catches for a Giants-rookie record 185 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown) and more hints that the offense could be extremely productive next year (505 total yards, their second consecutive 500-yard game, the first time the Giants have done that since 1967).
"I think from the offensive standpoint, I feel like we definitely made strides and we're playing pretty good football here at the end of the year," Manning said. "I thought we moved the ball really well. We were getting completions, hitting some big plays. I think we definitely got a lot better and we're playing at a high level, scoring points. We can always play better. We can always do some things better, but I feel like we're definitely going in the right direction and with another year under this and coming into the spring with a better understanding with what's going on, we'll be that much stronger."
But the Giants couldn't turn 505 yards into one victory, because they wasted opportunities (three trips inside the Philadelphia 20-yard line yielded one touchdown and two field goals), made mistakes (a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, a penalty that took a touchdown off the board, and an interception that ended the Giants' final chance to tie the score), ran the ball ineffectively (76 yards 3.0-yard average) and had an opponent that ran the ball too easily (Philly had 164 rushing yards and a 5.1-yard average) and scored too many points.
As they conclude a third consecutive season without a playoff berth, the Giants will now look to 2015. On the other hand, they won three of their last four games after losing seven in a row.
"We did an amazing job of bouncing back from the losing streak that we had," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "Guys all stuck together as family. We are all brothers and we hold each other accountable. We did a great job. It is terrible that we lost the last game. We wanted to win really bad, but we didn't get it."
"We are going to evaluate our team, just like we always do," Coughlin said. "We're going to present, along with pro personnel, to the owners an evaluation of our players and take it from there. If there's anything else, it will be initiated by ownership."
No matter what happens, Beckham will be a big part of the team's 2015 plans. He set Giants rookie records with 91 catches, 1,305 yards and 12 touchdown receptions. Beckham also set several NFL rookie marks and joined Hall of Famer Michael Irvin as the only players in history with nine consecutive games with 90 receiving yards.
"I felt the year went well," said Beckham, who endured an upset stomach during the game. "There is still so much I can look back on and I wish I could've done that and I wish I could've done this, but it was great to get here and be able to learn and experience things, to get a year of experience underneath my belt and I am looking forward to next year with a smile."
Rueben Randle, Beckham's former teammate at LSU, had another big game, with six catches for a career-high 158 yards, topping the 132 yards he had last week in St. Louis. It was the first time the Giants had two 100-yard receivers in consecutive games since Oct. 6-13 1985.
"I just wanted to finish strong," Randle said. "I didn't want to end on a bad note, at least for myself, so I just try to come out and give my all and just leave on a positive note."
On defense, Pierre-Paul had two sacks, his fifth consecutive game with one or more. He finished with a team-high 12.5, the highest total by a Giant since JPP had 16.5 in 2011. Pierre-Paul had nine sacks in those last five games after getting just 3.5 in the first 11.
"I don't know what changed," he said. "I am trying to figure that out myself. I am playing better. I had to step up big time. I wouldn't say I wasn't stepping up the first couple of weeks. Injuries. I fought through them. I got healthy and I have been on a roll. That is the game of football. You never know."
The Giants started the game well, taking the opening kickoff and driving 80 yards in only six plays, including Andre Williams' one-yard touchdown run.
But the Eagles topped that, going 80 yards in just three plays, the last a 44-yard touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez to Jordan Matthews. And after a Giants punt, the Eagles scored again, on Sanchez's one-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek.
The Giants trailed at halftime, 17-16, but forced the Eagles to go three-and-out on the first series of the third quarter. But the Giants couldn't capitalize, losing a yard on their next series before Steve Weatherford's punt was blocked by James Casey. Trey Burton picked up the ball and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. It was the first punt Weatherford had blocked in his nine-year career.
"Not only a blocked punt, but it ends up being in the end zone for a touchdown," Coughlin said. "That hurt."
So did Will Beatty's holding penalty later in the quarter, which took Manning's 34-yard touchdown pass to Randle off the board. Josh Brown soon kicked his fourth field goal, a 53-yarder, to pull the Giants to within 24-19.
Chris Polk's one-yard touchdown run increased the Eagles' lead back to 12 points before Manning's 63-yard touchdown pass to Beckham made it 31-26. Cody Parkey's 39-yard field goal made it an eight-point game, which is where it was when the Giants took possession at their own 31 with 3:45 remaining.
But on second down, Manning's pass deep down the left side was intercepted by safety Nate Allen. The Eagles ran out the final 2:51.
"It was just underthrown," Manning said. "Rueben read the coverage right. They were jumping the outside route. He converted it to a go. I just couldn't get enough on the throw. I saw it clean. They were in a quarters coverage. There should have been a window out there to hit the throw to Rueben. I couldn't step into the throw. The ball floated up a little bit. I left it a little inside and let the safety make a play on it. It wasn't a bad read. It was just kind of a poor throw based on the circumstances.'
Not to mention a metaphor for the Giants' entire season.
View the best photos from the game vs. the Eagles