Pat Shurmur began his post-game press conference with a familiar phrase often uttered by head coaches at every level across all sports: "It was a tale of two halves."
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times in Sunday's 25-22 loss in Philadelphia. After racking up 346 yards of offense in the first half – more than they had in five entire games this season – the Giants had just 56 after the break. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley nearly gained that much on his 51-yard touchdown run that put the Giants ahead 19-3 in the second quarter. After that, the Giants were outscored 22-3.
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Jake Elliott made a 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds remaining, his second game-winning field goal in two games against the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. Last year, he made a 61-yarder. This time, the Giants had a chance to get off the field just before the two-minute warning, but Carson Wentz connected with Nelson Agholor over the middle for 12 yards on fourth-and-one. It gave the Eagles a fresh set of downs at the Giants 30 while Shurmur had just one timeout left. The Eagles ran it three times to bleed the clock and set up the field goal.
"At the end there, we've got to find a way to make a play there," Shurmur said. "We're down to a field goal game, it's tied, and we've got to get them stopped. Ultimately we played a good football team and we just didn't have to make enough plays in the end to win the game, and that's the reality of it."
TURNING POINT: Perhaps the biggest reason for the Giants' two wins coming out of the bye week was their plus-6 turnover differential. While minus-1 – like the Giants were on Sunday -- isn't insurmountable, Eli Manning's interception late in the first half proved costly. The Eagles had just scored a touchdown and added a two-point conversion to make it a one-possession game. Corey Coleman then tried to limit the Eagles' momentum there with a 46-yard kickoff return. Manning eventually worked the offense down to the Eagles 27, where they eyed a field goal at minimum, but Malcolm Jenkins, one of the last defensive backs standing in the Eagles' depleted secondary, intercepted a pass intended for Odell Beckham Jr. near the goal line and returned it 25 yards.
Wentz took a knee as Eagles coach Doug Pederson settled for heading into the locker room down by just eight point. After the game, Shurmur said to blame him for the interception. The Giants' head coach and offensive play-caller was trying to attack the two-deep defense, but it should have just been a checkdown. "They just played way softer than I thought they'd play," Shurmur said. "That's all."
GOING FOR IT: The game within the game was played on the two-point conversion attempts. The Eagles were successful on two of them while the Giants failed on their only attempt after the Eagles were penalized for too many men on the field on the extra point attempt following Barkley's opening-drive touchdown. With the ball moved to the one, Manning threw an incomplete pass to fullback Elijhaa Penny.
"The penalty put us on the one-yard line, so I liked our chances of getting it there," Shurmur said. "I think we had a guy running wide open. We just didn't convert it. I think at that point it makes sense from the one. I was feeling it. I felt like we had a good play that we were going to use, and so did it. It would have been really nice if it was eight-nothing. It ended up being six-nothing."
SAQUON AND OFF: Barkley touched the ball 20 times for 142 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on Sunday, but he had just four rushes for seven yards and one catch for four yards in the second half. "I think what happened was we had one series where we gave it to [Wayne] Gallman and he did a good of running the ball to spell [Barkley] a little bit," Shurmur said. "He had 13 rushes and he added seven catches. He touched the ball 20 times. When we knock ourselves off with penalties and sacks and all that bad stuff, then you get off-schedule trying to get the ball to Saquon and Odell [Beckham Jr.] and the guys that need to touch it."
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE GIANTS: After the Giants won back-to-back games following a 1-7 start, three games separated first and last place in the NFC East. Dallas defeated Washington, which was leading the division, on Thanksgiving day to add even more buzz about the Giants somehow finding their way back into the race. Shurmur was asked after the game about the "slim path" seemingly coming to an end with a game against the NFC North-leading Bears next on the schedule.
"I'm not worried about that," he said. "I appreciate the fact that you've got to ask those questions. We're going to get it cleaned up, we're going to get on the bus, we're going north, and we're going to get up in the morning and get ready to play the Bears. That's where we're staying; we're staying right in the moment. I'm not worried about slim paths. I'm not worried about where we need to go. I'm worried about getting this team ready – we've got some injuries now we've got to overcome – to play the Bears."
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE EAGLES: The defending Super Bowl champin Eagles are also looking to repeat as division champs, which has not been done since they won four in a row in the early 2000s. Like the Giants, they needed a win to stay relevant in the muddled division. At 5-6, they are now 2-1 in the division and sit one game back of the Cowboys and Redskins.