It was all there for the Giants when they took an 11-point lead with 6:17 remaining. It was their chance to stake a claim to the race in their miserable division. It was a chance to erase the stink of the 0-5 start to their year.
But instead, they threw it all away.
Thanks to a terrible drop, some tired defense, and a few costly penalties, the Giants surrendered two touchdowns in the final 4:38 and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 22-21 on Thursday night. That dropped them to 1-6 on the season and blew their chance to possibly end the weekend in first place in the NFC East.
They had a serious chance too, after their offense put together one of its finest drives of the season – a methodical 15-yard, 97-yard march in 7:50 that ended with a two-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Jones to Sterling Shepard. But the defense could not get a stop on either of the next two drives. And in between, tight end Evan Engram dropped a pass that would’ve been a first down or possibly a game-sealing touchdown.
It didn’t help that safety Logan Ryan committed a defensive holding penalty in the end zone on third down of what because the Eagles’ game-winning drive, and that the Giants’ final drive – when all they needed to do was get into field goal range – began with a Will Hernandez holding penalty.
So many mistakes cost the Giants a win they should’ve had, and one which could’ve at least made this miserable season interesting.
Instead, it’s another loss that simply moved them a little closer to the top of the 2021 draft.
Here are a few more takeaways from the latest New York football disaster …
- Engram’s drop was just inexcusable. The Giants had a third down right before the two-minute warning and were one first down away from probably putting the game away. Engram got open, Jones put a perfect pass into his hands and … he dropped it. Went right off his hands. He might have gone all the way for a touchdown, but at the very least it would’ve given the Giants four more downs to run down the clock. If he makes that catch, they almost certainly win.
- Did the Giants defense seem a little gassed in the second half? Here’s why: In the first half, the Eagles ran 44 plays to the Giants’ 20. The Eagles held the ball 20:24 to the Giants’ 9:36. The Eagles had 222 yards to the Giants’ 124. Things evened out a little in the second half, but all that ineffectiveness on offense keeps the defense on the field and wears them down for the fourth quarter. If the Giants’ offense can’t start moving the ball consistently, they’re just not going to be able to win many close games.
- Give the Giants’ defense credit, too. After an incredibly soft opening drive where they barely got near Wentz and the Eagles marched right down the field for a touchdown, they really turned up the pressure after that – right up until the end of the game. Wentz came in as the most sacked and hit quarterback in the NFL and the Giants didn’t let him off easy. They sacked him three times and had him running outside the pocket most of the night – after that opening drive, of course, and until the fourth quarter.
- The absence of Saquon Barkley is really taking its toll on the Giants, though it’s hard to put this all on the running backs that replaced him. The blocking – particularly the interior blocking – is terrible. They did have their moments on that fourth-quarter drive, but overall their running backs ran 16 times for 65 yards. That’s just not good enough.
- Obviously their running issues don’t include their leading rusher – Daniel Jones. He finished with four carries for 92 yards. Of course, there’s nothing that can really said about his 80-yard run that should’ve been an 88-yard touchdown had he not just … well, he just fell. Untouched. On his own. It was like he just ran out of gas and shut it down. Strange, unfortunate play. At least they still ended up scoring a touchdown on that drive.
- In fairness, Gallman actually did end up putting up decent numbers after Devonta Freeman left with an injured ankle. Using his fresh legs against the battered Eagles defense, he ran 10 times for 34 yards and, more impressively, had five catches for 20 yards.
- The Giants missed a huge opportunity on their first punt of the game. Joe Judge made a very late call to kick on 4th and 3 from their own 46 and it caused so much confusion on Philly’s part that they left gunner Corey Ballentine uncovered. Punter Riley Dixon saw it and motioned towards the sideline apparently wondering if they should run a fake. Either the coaches decided not to or they didn’t get the message – but that was a good thing because Ballentine took off on the snap and never looked back to see if someone might throw him the ball. The Giants looked completely unprepared when the Eagles basically handed them a gift.
- Golden Tate’s 39-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was really good and a little alarming. It was a great catch. He basically ripped it away from the defender and was able to backpedal into the end zone. But he had to rip it away because he got absolutely no separation. That’s what Tate is and does nowadays. He doesn’t get a lot of separation and isn’t open as much as he used to be, but he is still good enough to make the contested catches.
- I feel like I write this every week, but cornerback James Bradberry might be the Giants’ best player and one of their best free agent acquisitions in years. He had another interception on Thursday night and it was a beauty. Granted it was a terrible throw by Eagles QB Carson Wentz, but it was a nice, stretching catch by Bradberry, who somehow managed to keep his feet in bounds in the end zone.
- WR Sterling Shepard is back. He finished with six catches for 59 yards. His fourth-quarter touchdown was big, but his most impressive catch was a 29-yarder in the second half where he made a hard, two-footed stop, spun and tacked on about 10 yards after the catch. That was the moment it was crystal clear that his toe was no longer a problem.
- Rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas was back in the starting lineup, one game after being benched for apparently being late to a meeting. But he continued to struggle – badly in some spots. He was directly responsible for the two sacks on Jones and he gave up plenty of other pressures. The Giants are going to continue to let him play, to work through his issues, especially if they’re not in the playoff hunt. If somehow they are, though, they’re going to have to at least consider giving fellow rookie Matt Peart a longer look.