Bad Eli Manning returned at the absolute worst time for Giants

PHILADELPHIA – Eli Manning, the engineer of the Giants’ two magical Super Bowl-winning drives in 2007 and 2011, failed again and again to drive Big Blue’s offense into the end zone and into the postseason in Thursday night’s 24-19 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Big Blue’s shorthanded defense forced consecutive three-and-outs from the Birds’ offense in the closing minutes of what was shaping up to be a triumphant comeback victory. But when Eagles safety Terrence Brooks came down with Manning’s third interception with five seconds remaining, Ben McAdoo’s team was left to root for other NFC teams to lose this weekend in order to clinch prior to Week 17.

“We expect to score more, we want to score more,” Manning said. “I thought today we had opportunities to score more and just didn’t. So we’ve gotta find ways to not turn the ball over, don’t spot the opposing team points, and score more touchdowns when we get down in the red zone.”

Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. did help the offense move the ball in a late-game charge. Manning targeted Beckham 20 times, completing 11 passes for 150 yards to his top receiver. But a false start penalty by John Jerry killed one Giants drive late in the fourth quarter, and then Manning sailed a pass over Beckham’s head on a desperation heave to the end zone before tossing the interception to end it.

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Beckham said the pass was not overthrown, he was just too gassed to turn on the extra gear to go and get it. Whatever the reasons are for the offensive short-circuit, week-in and week-out it’s not good enough – certainly not at the Giants’ own private house of horrors, Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles won for the first time in six games.

In the last four weeks this team has scored 14, 10, 17 and 19 points and gone 2-2 in those games.

“Our job is to get the offense back the ball in that four-minute drive,” said safety Landon Collins, part of a defense that made a huge 4th-and-goal stop in the second half on their own 1-yard line to keep the game close. “That’s what we did. You hope for the best after that.”

Eagles safety Terrence Brooks comes down with Eli Manning's third interception of the game with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Eagles safety Terrence Brooks comes down with Eli Manning’s third interception of the game with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

With the Giants’ loss, the Dallas Cowboys clinched the NFC East title, the conference’s top seed and home field to the Super Bowl due to the result. The Giants (10-5) are guaranteed to get in as a wild card if, or when, they do.

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The Giants’ clinching is still essentially a formality, since only outlandish scenarios exist to keep them out of the postseason. Four different teams can lose or tie this coming weekend to clinch a Giants berth in the one-and-done Super Bowl tournament in January. If any one of Detroit, Green Bay or Tampa Bay lose or tie this weekend, the Giants get in. If Atlanta loses, the Giants clinch.

Still, Ben McAdoo’s team wanted to take care of business on its own. Instead, they can only sit on their couches and open Christmas gifts hoping for someone else to lose. That way they can clinch and not have to worry about needing to win in Washington Week 17 in Washington on New Year’s Day.

The most worrisome part of Thursday’s defeat was that Bad Eli returned.

Manning hadn’t turned the ball over once in the Giants’ 17-6 win over the Detroit Lions last Sunday, but he threw an interception returned for a touchdown by Malcolm Jenkins on the Giants’ second possession that dropped Big Blue into a 14-0 hole.

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“Bad decision,” Manning admitted.

The Giants have lost six of their last eight visits to Philly.

The Giants have lost six of their last eight visits to Philly.

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

He then got picked again by Jenkins on a telegraphed, floated corner route to Sterling Shepard in the second half, and again at the end of the game. All told, Manning was 38-of-63 for 356 yards, one touchdown and three INTs and a passer rating of 61.3.

They did get four Robbie Gould field goals, and the officials hurt the Giants with two phantom personal foul calls against Giants defenders Eli Apple and Olivier Vernon for hitting Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. But the Giants dug themselves too deep a hole early, on a night when the Eagles wore all black and Big Blue wore their throwback 80s whites.

The Giants trailed 14-3 at the end of the first quarter, surrendering more points in the game’s first seven minutes than they had in the last two weeks’ wins over Dallas and Detroit combined (13). Lincoln Financial Field continues to hold very few positive memories for the Giants.

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They have lost six of their last eight visits down I-95 to the Birds’ nest. In 2014, Victor Cruz tore up his knee in a 27-0 loss. Last season, the Giants fell, 27-7, at The Linc and then lost at home to the Eagles, 35-30, in their regular season finale to seal Tom Coughlin’s fate.

And then on Thursday night, on a short week, they came up short.

“Disappointed right now in the way we played tonight,” Manning said, “but we know we can bounce back and still get a win next week and get in the playoffs.”

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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