PHILADELPHIA – Playoffs? Who’s talking about playoffs?
Not the Giants. Not yet anyway.
Big Blue blew an opportunity Thursday night to clinch its first postseason berth in five years, losing 24-19 to the rival Philadelphia Eagles at the Giants’ own private house of horrors, Lincoln Financial Field. It was the reeling Birds’ first win in six games.
Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. led the offense on an inspiring 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 Manning’s third interception of the game to Terrence Brooks sealed it with the seconds ticking away.
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.
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 on New Year’s Day.
Odell Beckham reaches out for an overthrown ball.
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 on the Giants’ second possession that dropped Big Blue into a 14-0 hole and got picked again on a telegraphed, floated corner route to Sterling Shepard in the second half. Then he tossed the game-ending interception, too.
All told, Manning was 38-of-63 for 356 yards, one touchdown and three INTs and a passer rating of 61.3.
The officials hurt the Giants with two phantom personal foul calls against Giants defenders hitting Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz: Eli Apple was whistled for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness even though he pulled up on a sliding Wentz, on a drive that ended in a 40-yard Wentz touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor to put the Eagles up 21-6 in the second quarter.
Olivier Vernon was also called for roughing the passer for a simple tackle of Wentz on a pass rush that no one in the building could believe. 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.
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.
Carson Wentz finds a way to elude the Giants defense all night.
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 they came up short.
The Giants defense made a huge goal line stand on the Eagles in the fourth quarter, even without injured tackle Damon Snacks Harrison (knee), and rebounded despite a slow start surrendering a 25-yard Darren Sproles touchdown run on Philly’s first possession.
The Giants already were without Jason Pierre-Paul and corner Janoris Jenkins, but Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made an interception and the defense stiffened in the second half. Apple got hurt in the second half but came back in the game.
Kicker Robbie Gould hit on 4-of-4 field goals.
It just wasn’t to be on Thursday. The Giants came up short on a short week, and now they need help.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News