With all the different setbacks, injuries and negative story lines going into today’s game you would have though the New York Giants would have had no chance to be competitive against the top seeded Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants were seven point underdogs against their NFC East Rivals even without starting quarterback Carson Wentz
The Giants put together their best collective effort as a team though came up short against Philly as they fell 34-29 despite a hero’s like effort by Eli Manning. Manning finished 37-57 for 429 yards, three touchdown passes with one interception.
Manning and the Giants had the opportunity to win the game by converting on a 4th& Goal on the 11 yard line to Evan Engram but the ball went through his hands in the end zone. Engram and other offensive key players were extremely disappointed that their was no pass interference call.
Engram explained what happened on the play. “Yeah. My arm was kind of held, it was obvious. I went up for the ball, it was obvious that he was kind of arm guarding me, but no call.” Rgger Lewis JR saw the same thing.” I saw the play. I thought it was a pass interference. The ref was going on – I thought it was a pass interference.”
Manning elaborated even more on the fourth down play. “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.”
The Giants were on the six yard line before a false start penalty by Bobby Hart pushed them back to the 11 yard line. A costly penalty which pushed the Giants back to the 11 yard line and that showed to be costly for Big Blue and made it very tough to convert.
The game was not lost on the final plays of the game, the Special Teams play for New York was very sloppy. A blocked field goal, blocked punt and missed tackles were costly. Interim Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo addressed the mishaps of the special teams during his post game press conference. “Any game you lose hurts. What we’re going to go back and end up thinking about and dissecting is we were ahead early in the game and we let them get back in it. I thought we let them get back in it by mistakes that we made and to their credit, they kept playing and battled their way back and then yeah, the special teams miscues put our backs to the wall. It’s tough. It’s hard enough. The margin for error is very small for us right now with all the injuries and what we’re going through and to be making it easy on an opponent, that hurts.”
As for the Eagles, with the win they clinch a first round bye during the NFL playoffs. This was the first game since the injury of starting QB Carson Wentz went down for the season with injury. Nick Foles who has a 2-0 record against the Giants started and did not disappoint as he Foles was 24-38 for 233 yards and four touchdown passes.
Foles was asked after the game if getting this win put the team back on track. “I mean just getting back out there playing a full game, on the road, in New York. NFC East, it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the season or what, it’s always going to be a battle. New York played a great game, came down to the end. I mean the time we played them before was the same way. But to come here, face a bunch of different things, have different guys step up, special teams makes plays, defense makes plays, offense. It’s like we switched off all throughout the game, but we stuck together and we had some adversity early so it was a great game to come out and get a win.”
Head Coach Doug Peterson stated that Foles played very well. “Thought he played well, really well. I’m sure there are some things he would like to do over, obviously, each game is going to be that way. I thought he handled himself extremely well. A lot of poise back there. Took some shots but bounced up. He did a nice job. Did a nice job.”
As for Eli Manning, fans peers and opponents felt that he played his best game in years today. He was asked about his amazing play by the media. “I think we had a good plan for how they were going to play and guys did a good job getting open. 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.”
Roger Lewis Jr made sure that he made it clear how he felt about his quarterback. ” Eli is special. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s a two-time Super Bowl winner. He hasn’t lost one step. He’s special. That guy helped my game grow a lot from year one to year two. He’s special.”
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard had his best game of the season today by catching 11 passes for 139 yards and scored one touchdown and was not surprised of the great play by his quarterback. “Eli’s great in my eyes no matter what he does. He just played like [what] he’s capable of today. I feel like they get after Eli [Manning] a lot, but I mean that’s how they’re going to do every quarterback in the NFL, but you know what, Eli’s a great guy and a great quarterback, so people do need to see that from time to time.”
As for Shepards play, Steve Spagnuolo was amazed by his wide receiver’s play. “Very impressed. Sterling is a talented guy. He’s battled a little bit with injuries this year himself. The one thing when these young guys have injuries along the way – this is what we lose sight of. You get a young guy and he plays a couple games and then he misses two or three and then plays this one. They lose that foundation of all the reps and all the football. Because he’s been injured, he’s in his second year, but he’s not a second year with ‘x’ number of games under his belt. So, the more and more play time we can get to these guys, I think the better they’ll get. Your point about the wide receivers is a good one. Having had a lot of injuries, I’m proud of the way the guys have stepped up and played. Catching the ball and getting yards after catch is huge in this league. I thought we did a pretty good job of it.”