Giants.com breaks down the turning points of the game:
Steve Spagnuolo summed it up best. A 2-11 team defeating an 11-2 division champion on the last play would have been special.
But it turned out to be just a hypothetical for the Giants on Sunday.
In a game that featured five lead changes, Big Blue couldn't make it six, instead falling 34-29 to the Eagles. Avoiding the upset, Philadelphia clinched a first-round bye while the two-win Giants sit two weeks away from a major offseason.
"We all were hoping for a memorable score and a memorable game," the interim head coach said, "and a lot of what could have been."
Here are the game-changing plays from Week 15:
ELI, SHEPARD SHIFT OFFENSE INTO GEAR
In two games against the Eagles this season, the Giants averaged 459.5 yards on offense. In their other 12, they managed just 286.3. Eli Manning, making his second consecutive start since his streak ended in Oakland, had the team tied for the best record in the NFL figured out again on Sunday. He began with seven consecutive completions, including four to Shepard. Running back Orleans Darkwa eventually punched it in for the Giants' first opening-drive touchdown of the season.
Big Blue went on to produce touchdowns on its first three possessions as Manning threw his first of two touchdowns to Tavarres King. Sterling Shepard then broke a 67-yard catch-and-run into the end zone. His fourth score in four career games against the Eagles gave the Giants a 20-7 lead early in the second quarter.
"I think we had a good plan for how they were going to play and guys did a good job getting open," Manning said. "They covered us up a few times, but we had a good plan of getting the ball out quickly, which we did. Playing fast, some up-tempo stuff, I think that confused them a little bit. Hit some guys in stride, hit some guys running, so I think we just had a good plan. Guys were winning and that's fun when that happens."
DARBY IGNITES EAGLES WITH INT
With the No. 1 offense spinning its wheels, the Giants had a chance to put a firm grip on the game in the first half – or, at the very least, play the field position game. But Ronald Darby gave the Eagles a short field on an interception off Manning, returning it 37 yards down to the Giants 20. The play breathed life into the Philadelphia sideline, and on the ensuing possession, Nick Foles, who started in place of the injured Carson Wentz, threw his second of four touchdowns. After that interception, the Eagles outscored the Giants 27-9.
"You guys know that and can't turn the ball over against a good football team," Spagnuolo said. "They've proven that if you don't turn the ball over against them, talking about the Eagles, you got a decent chance of winning."
The Giants had an extra point, punt, and field goal blocked on Sunday. Derek Barnett got Aldrick Rosas following the Giants' touchdown on the opening drive, and Kamu Grugier-Hill blocked Brad Wing late in the first half. Philadelphia took over on the Giants 18, and three plays later, Foles threw a touchdown to take a 21-20 lead at the time. Then early in the fourth quarter, Malcolm Jenkins got a hand on Rosas' 48-yard attempt that would have put the Giants ahead by one point.
"Well, [special teams coordinator Dave] Fipp studies the protections and throws a couple different wrinkles in there," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "Barnett has blocked a couple already this season. He got one, Malcolm got one and then just the rush on the punt was a thing of beauty. It was executed well, the scheme. Just things to change it up. Like I said, Fipp does a good job of understanding protection and designing some rushes to do that."
KING GOES FOR 57; 2-POINT TRY FAILED
Just like the Giants earlier, the Eagles had a chance to put a stranglehold on the game late in the third quarter. But after the Giants made a goal-line stand and held them to a field goal to keep it an eight-point game, King swung the momentum back with a 57-yard touchdown. The Giants then attempted to a two-point conversion to tie the game, but Manning was sacked on the try.
FOURTH DOWN FINISH
After the Giants' defense held Jake Elliott – the kicker that beat them on a 61-yarder as time expired in Week 3 – to another short field goal, Manning eyed his 36th career game-winning drive when the offense took over down by five points with 3:51 left in the game. He brought the Giants down to fourth-and-goal at the six with 48 seconds remaining, needing a touchdown to pull off the offset. Right tackle Bobby Hart was then called for a false start on the first attempt, pushing the line of scrimmage back five yards. Then on fourth-and-goal at the 11, Manning tried to find tight end Evan Engram in the back of the end zone, but the rookie was closely guarded as the pass fell incomplete. There was no call for passing interference, but Shepard was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct in arguing it.
"Yeah, it was tough," Manning said. "There's not a whole lot of great fourth-and-goal from the 12 plays. But I was trying to get him, I had him on a corner route, maybe I was playing some outside leverage, just trying to back shoulder it and give him a chance. Got it in the end zone and there was some contact being made, I don't know, it's tough to know if it's interference, if it's the call or not. You kind of just put it up high and give him a chance to make the play and we didn't make it."