BERGEN COUNTY, N.J.- Another one bites the dust: in a 25-22 loss in Philadelphia, the Giants’ 2018 playoff hopes (in a wide-open NFC East) are all but gone. At 3-8, New York would need a real miracle to make a late-season run at the 6-5 Cowboys, 6-5, Redskins, and 5-6 Eagles.
Eli Manning: We wanted to win this game and keep things going and stay in the hunt. The goal is to win every game we play so there’s disappointment after today. #NYGvsPHI
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 25, 2018
Let’s look at how my preview from earlier in the week, and discussion on WFAN radio held up:
NEW YORK GIANTS’ KEYS TO VICTORY
⚠️1. Eli Manning: The Giants were not expecting Eli Manning to have the career game he had last week- he would have had to been perfect in his completions in order to top it. Manning posted 297 yards on 26 completions (37 attempts). Because of a touchdown and an interception (in the end zone, his target was Odell Beckham, Jr.), Manning’s passer rating was a 91.8. Not terrible.
However, Manning’s decision-making lead to his downfall. Manning had tight end Rhett Ellison wide open on a 2-pt conversation early in the game, but chose to toss the ball (incompletely) to running back Elijhaa Penny. Manning also burned the Giants’ first at 5:16 in the third quarter. During the Eagles’ final drive, the Giants stopped them near midfield before the Eagles attempted the forty-three yard field goal that proved to be the game winner. Why is this significant? The Eagles were able to run out the play clock completely before attempting the field goal. Had the Giants had that extra timeout, they, at least, would have had one more attempt to throw the ball downfield in hopes of salvaging their final drive.
✅2. Spread the ball around: Manning spread the ball around to nine different receivers: the same number of receivers as his best game of the season in week 11. Wayne Gallman’s reception, however went for a total of -2 yards.
⚠️3. Withstand the pressure from the Eagles’ Front Four: In their last meeting, the Eagles’ defensive line had their way with the Giants’ offensive line. Four different Eagles recorded sacks on Manning in week six. Today, the Giants’ offensive line only relinquished two sacks: one to Michael Bennett and one to Chris Long.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES KEYS TO VICTORY
✅1. Carson Wentz: Against the Giants, Wentz finished the day: 20/28 for 236 yards, a touchdown, and zero interceptions (passer rating of 108.6). That was a much improved performance than his week 11 numbers: 19/33, 156 yards, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions (31.9 passer rating). I wrote that I imaged Wentz entering week 12 action with a chip on his shoulder, and with something to prove. That, he did. As I wrote, the Eagles’ fate in this game did not depend solely on Wentz’ arm. Josh Adams did, in fact, see an expanded role from week 11. Today, he built upon his totals from week 11 (53 rushing yards on seven carries, 19 receiving yards, scored the only touchdown) with 22 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown. Corey Clement also chipped in with 5 carries for 45 yards. The running game was on point for the Eagles today.
✅2. Exploit the Giants’ difficulties in covering the tight end: Week in and week out, I point out how the Giants struggle in covering the opposing team’s tight end. After surrendering five receptions on six targets for 78 yards to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ O.J. Howard. Today was no different:
- TE Zach Ertz – 7 receptions on 8 targets: 91 yards and a touchdown
- TE Dallas Goedert – 3 receptions on 4 targets, 33 yards
In October, when the Giants and Eagles met, tight end Zach Ertz caught a 10-yard touchdown pass. Today, he caught a 15-yard touchdown pass.
✅3. Limit Saquon Barkley’s production: In week six, Barkley was the single-most productive offensive player for New York. In addition to 99 receiving yards, Barkley also posted, on 13 carries, 130 yards and a touchdown (including a 50-yard rush). In total, Barkley accounted for 229 of the Giants 401 yards.
During the first half, it sure seemed week twelve would be a repeat of the week six nightmare for the Eagles’ defense. In the first quarter, Barkley caught the first score of the game: a thirteen yard touchdown pass from Manning. In the second quarter, he ripped a fifty-one yard touchdown run to put the Giants ahead 19-3. In the second half, Barkley’s number 26 was hardly called: he touched the ball only five times. In total, he posted 101 yards on only thirteen carries.
Coach Shurmur: A tale of two halves. We jumped out to an early lead…we hurt ourselves with penalties and sacks in the third quarter…the penalties are unacceptable. #NYGvsPHI
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 25, 2018
THE BOTTOM LINE
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) November 25, 2018
A tale of two halves it was. Why wasn’t Barkley more involved in the second half? I sure hope a reporter will ask that question, because it would be the first one out of my mouth. Regardless, Jake Elliott’s 43-yard game-winning field goal certainly buried the Giants in week twelve and may have, at the same time, ended their playoff hopes for 2018.
My final score prediction was: Giants 28, Eagles 24. The actual final score was Eagles 25, Giants 22.