Wed, 02 Dec 2020

Cover 3: What we learned from Giants vs. Eagles

Giants
26 Oct 2020, 04:12 GMT+10

by John Schmeelk, Dan Salomone & Lance Medow

Three Giants.com writers discuss their biggest takeaways from the Thursday night loss in Philadelphia:

John Schmeelk: I'm trying this a little differently this week. I'm writing this less than an hour after the game. For those of you that don't know, I produce the radio broadcast each game. As the Giants received a kickoff from the Eagles leading by five with 4:38 remaining in the fourth quarter, I turned to Bob Papa and Carl Banks and said, "The Giants can't give the ball back to the Eagles, unless it is after a score."

The Giants started the drive perfectly with consecutive Wayne Gallman runs for first downs. Two runs later, the Giants were in a 3rd-and-7 with just over two minutes to play. If they converted, the Eagles would have been forced to use their final two timeouts. If they got the ball back at all it would have been with very little time remaining. Jason Garrett called up a good play, getting Evan Engram isolated on safety Will Parks, but he couldn't make a catch on a well-thrown ball over his shoulder.

On the subsequent Eagles drive, Philadelphia was put into a 1st-and-goal from the 18 after a face mask penalty. They got Boston Scott isolated one-on-one with a safety and he made a play on a well-thrown ball over the shoulder for the winning touchdown. The game was bigger than just those two plays, but in the biggest moment, the Eagles were able to make the big play when the game was on the line, and the Giants weren't.

It doesn't mean the entire loss is on any specific play or player. The defense allowed 442 yards. The team had untimely penalties and turnovers. The defense had two chances to prevent touchdowns at the end of the game, but failed on both occasions. It was a team loss.

It is a frustrating loss - another defeat in Philadelphia after holding a multiple-score lead. Until the Giants can get over the hump against their NFC East foes they are not going to be able to insert themselves into serious consideration to win the division or make the playoffs.

Dan Salomone: The Giants lost by one point to a divisional rival four days after defeating another, Washington, by a single point. In the victory, the Giants finished with 108 net passing yards, their lowest total regardless of outcome since 2017 and their lowest net passing yardage total in a victory since 2007. In Thursday's loss to the Eagles, they had season-high totals of 325 yards and 160 rushing yards. Go figure. Such is life for a team that lost its eighth consecutive game to the Eagles and its seventh in a row in Philadelphia.

Rivalries are often for the fans (and writers), but coach Joe Judge is versed in team psychology enough to know breaking both of those streaks would have been a major boost for the organization. More than that, though, it was an opportunity to win two games in a row and step forward in the sluggish NFC East race. They had a chance to put the game on ice, but they just could not hang on. Now they have a chance to self-scout over an extended break heading into a Monday night game against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

"Our focus right now with this long weekend is just reviewing what we've done the first half of the season, coaching and playing, and making sure when the players come back that we've made some adjustments going forward," Judge said Friday. "That can be something in terms of how we practice, how we prepare, techniques we're using with certain players, whatever that may be. We're kind of treating this a little bit right now like we would in a bye week. It's a good opportunity for the players to get physically refreshed, mentally refreshed, and when they come back on Monday, getting back into ball with those guys."

Lance Medow: You hear these cliches all the time: "It's not how you start, it's how you finish." "The game is 60 minutes," etc. Well, those trite statements apply to the Giants' Week 7 experience. Despite the Eagles dominating time of possession for the majority of the game and struggling to execute in the red zone (3-for-8), they still found a way to win the game and that comes down to their ability to finish.

It's easy to pick out one specific play as to why New York watched an 11-point deficit dissipate in the final six-plus minutes of the game, but you can point to a variety of areas and the common theme is the lack of execution and penalties piling up at the worst possible time. After the Giants put together, arguably, their most impressive drive of the season (15 plays, 97 yards) to build a double-digit lead, most thought they finally solved the Eagles' riddle in Philadelphia and would snap a six-game losing streak at Lincoln Financial Field as well as a seven-game skid in the series. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case as the Eagles responded with two touchdown drives that each took less than 1:40 off the clock. Six of the Giants' nine penalties came on those final two drives - with five charged to the defense and one on special teams.

On the first Eagles' possession, an illegal contact penalty wiped out a B.J. Hill sack. Instead of it being 3rd-and-15 from the Philadelphia 17, the Eagles received a fresh set of downs. Two plays later, the Giants had too many men on the field and Philadelphia was able to move inside New York's 10. The Giants are in no position to give gifts and second chances to the opposition and that's what happened down the stretch. Although it's easy to point to an incompletion on 3rd-and-7 on the Giants' ensuing possession, the Eagles still had the 2-minute warning and two timeouts left. We don't know exactly how the game would have played out and even if the Giants tacked on a field goal, Philadelphia would have had a chance to tie the game and force overtime with a touchdown and two-point conversion.

That's why you can't overlook the fact that the defense still had a chance to close out the game and prevent the Eagles from getting into the end zone. First, a lowering of the head to initiate contact penalty on special teams handed Philly great starting field position. Then, Carson Wentz completed two straight passes to tight end Richard Rodgers for 41 yards. In the blink of an eye, the Eagles were in Giants territory with 1:24 to go. Throw in a pass interference penalty and two solid Boston Scott runs and the Eagles have a 1st-and-goal at the 9. A holding penalty on 3rd-and-goal allowed Philadelphia to have a fresh set of downs but a face mask flag on the Eagles gave the Giants a chance to make a stop on 1st-and-goal at the 18. The point is there were several missed opportunities by the Giants on the Eagles' winning drive that were unrelated to penalties. You can only give an opponent so many more chances to score. Eventually, the opposition is going to capitalize and that's exactly what happened. Timing is everything, both literally and figuratively and New York picked the worst time to struggle.

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