Giants vs. Eagles: What We Learned from Big Blue's 19-17 Loss to Philly
And yet, another devastating loss for the Giants, as they lose 19-17 on Sunday night to their NFC East rivals.
It was another typical NFC East slugfest filled with hard-nosed, style play between two teams that do not like each other.
Lawrence Tynes had an opportunity to win the game for the Giants by kicking a 54-yard field goal, but it came up just a little short, and the Eagles just held on to win.
The loss drops the Giants to 2-2, and they have lost the last eight of nine meetings against Philadelphia.
What did we learn from the game on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field?
Click through to find out.
Hakeem Nicks Was Really Missed
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Last Thursday night, the Giants didn't miss Hakeem Nicks against the Panthers.
Against the Eagles, the Giants' No. 1 receiver was definitely missed in the offense.
Both Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon had 100-yard games, but the other receivers weren't factors.
Martellus Bennett had one catch for two yards, Rueben Randle had two catches for 36 yards and Ramses Barden had two catches for 36 yards.
Randle had an opportunity to make plays against the Philadelphia secondary but wasn't able to have that breakout game.
And last week, Barden was a monster against the Panthers but was not against the Eagles (I'll get a little more into Barden a little later.)
Nicks makes the Giants offense that much more explosive because he is a pure playmaker who can thrash a secondary.
He was sorely missed in the game, and the Giants really need him back as soon as a possible.
The Running Game Was Ineffective
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Last week, Andre Brown was an absolute beast against the Panthers.
With Ahmad Bradshaw back on Sunday night, the tandem of Bradshaw and Brown didn't get it done against the Eagles.
Bradshaw had 13 carries for just 39 yards with his longest carry being nine yards—not very effective.
Brown really got held down as he had five carries for 14 yards. The Eagles had an answer for him every time he touched the ball.
He wasn't breaking through holes like he did against Carolina. Brown had a couple of little carries for four yards, but he never broke away and had any big plays.
By taking away the running game, the Eagles made the Giants into a one-dimensional team on Sunday, although the Giants can be a very strong passing team.
Even so, by taking away the run, it eliminates options from the Giants playbook, including the play-action pass of Eli Manning, which is something he thrives on.
The Eagles did a solid job of eliminating the Giants' running game.
Letting LeSean McCoy Get over 100 Yards Hurts Them
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Before the game, I had talked about the Giants trying to limit LeSean McCoy to less than 100 yards for the entire game.
It didn't happen, as McCoy had 23 carries for 134 yards, plus three catches for 17 yards, giving him 151 all-purpose yards.
Let's be honest, McCoy is one of the top five running backs in the entire NFL, and he should be the one player teams should focus on stopping.
Early on, the Giants were doing a good job stopping him, but as the game wore on, McCoy got going.
He started breaking long runs for over 20 yards, extending drives and wearing down the Giants defense.
When these two meet again in Week 17, the Giants have to figure out a better way of containing McCoy because he finds ways to make great plays against them.
It's no coincidence that when McCoy has over 100 total yards against the Giants, the Eagles win the game.
Sunday night's game is no different.
David Wilson Has a New Role: Return Specialist
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It only took four weeks to figure it out, but David Wilson's role on the Giants may be real clear now.
He might not be the first or second option for tailback, but as a kick-returner, he looked amazing.
Wilson had six returns and averaged 36.2 yards per return and had a long of 53 yards against the Eagles, which are all outstanding numbers.
All night, when Wilson got the ball, you had to have wondered when he was going to break one for a touchdown.
One or two more players beaten or a block here and there, and Wilson could have broken a couple of those for six points.
Either way, Wilson was able to give the Giants great field position with his bursts of speed and set up some important drives for the team.
Going forward, teams may even be hesitant kicking it to him because he may take it for a score on them.
Eli Manning's Pick Was Crucial
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During the start of the fourth quarter, Eli Manning had a chance to give the Giants a 17-13 lead.
From the 10-yard line, Manning threw the ball that was intended for Martellus Bennett that could have been a touchdown, but Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had other plans.
Cromartie dropped back and read Manning the entire play. Seeing that the pass was going to Bennett in the end zone, he stepped right in front of the Giants tight end and picked off the pass in the end zone.
That turnover led to the Eagles scoring a field goal and making the game 16-10 at the time.
I'm not going to fault Manning for the game. However, that interception did hurt.
If he ended up throwing a touchdown, it would have made it 17-13. And then, let's still assume the Eagles still kick the field goal and make it 17-16.
On the next possession, Manning redeemed himself and threw a touchdown to Bear Pascoe, which would have made the game 24-16.
But instead, because of the interception, it made the score 17-16.
If the Giants were up eight points instead of one, it could have really changed how the final quarter was played.
It's just one of those "what if" moments that Giants fans can wonder about until the Cleveland game next Sunday.
The Giants' Pass Rush Isn't Getting It Done
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OK, the Giants definitely brought pressure in Sunday night's game and knocked Michael Vick around.
But, the problem was they didn't sack him enough in the game.
There were numerous times where the Giants over-pursued Vick and let him scramble out of pressure to make a play.
And because of that, Vick ended up with six carries for 49 yards. It was not the typical Vick highlight reel night, but those are pretty decent rushing numbers for a quarterback who could have been sacked several times by the Giants.
The Giants did get two sacks on Vick—one by Osi Umenyiora and one by Chase Blackburn, but it wasn't enough.
The Giants' pass rush through the first four weeks of the NFL season has been very disappointing.
Justin Tuck has yet to record a sack for the Giants. This is very shocking, considering how good he is.
Tuck is getting pressure to the quarterback, just like he did on Sunday night against Vick, but he's not getting to the quarterback and taking him down.
The most feared part of the Giants defense has been a non-factor in the first quarter of the season, and that needs to change if they want to have success in 2012.
Ramses Barden Goes from the Penthouse to Outhouse
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You know how I know when a player really screws up? After the game, my wife Kim says to me, "that guy Barden, whatever his name is; he really screwed up tonight for the Giants."
My wife is not the biggest of football fans out there, but even she knew Ramses Barden screwed up on Sunday night.
Now, I will admit, when I watched the play live as it happened, I honestly thought Nnamdi Asomugha was going to get called for pass interference.
However, when I saw the replay, the referees actually got it right.
Asomugha was able to get Barden going out of bounds on the pass play, and Barden pulled Asomugha down at the 2-yard line while the Eagles defensive back was trying to make a play on the ball, getting called for offensive pass interference.
Again, for a split second, I thought the Giants had caught another break from the referees. Why? I guess the Giants fan in me was hoping for it. But, the referees actually got the call right.
And because of that penalty, it went from 2nd-and-9 on the Eagles' 26-yard line to 2nd-and-19 on the Eagles' 36-yard line.
That 10 yards turned a 44-yard field goal into the 54-yard attempt that Lawrence Tynes tried and missed twice.
If the Giants didn't get pushed back those 10 yards on the second field-goal attempt that was down the middle, Tynes would have ended up hitting a game-winning field goal, and the Giants would have won 20-17.
Instead, Barden becomes the goat of the game because, like my wife said, he really screwed up and cost the Giants a chance to win the game.
The Giants Will Be Just Fine in 2012
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The loss for the Giants really stings. For seven days, it's going to hurt Giants fans to read the newspaper and turn on ESPN.
And if you have friends or co-workers who are Eagles fans, you really will need to find a way not to throw them through a wall this week. (I work in an area that's filled with Eagles fans, so I am in the same boat.)
However, this loss is not a crippling one for the Giants—not by a long shot.
Despite trailing in the game, the Giants still showed resiliency and showed that they don't give up late in games.
Despite throwing a bad interception early on in the fourth quarter, Eli Manning showed that he put that behind him and attempted to lead his team to another fourth-quarter comeback that nearly happened.
And despite an ineffective running game, Manning still threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, while making great use of Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon all over the field.
This is a game the Giants nearly could have had, but it just escaped their grasp. The Giants know it, and Tom Coughlin knows it, too.
What the Giants have to do next Sunday is come back to their home crowd at MetLife Stadium and absolutely beat down the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland is 0-4, and honestly, there is no reason why the Giants shouldn't come back home and pound them into submission next Sunday afternoon.
The loss against the Eagles for any Giant fan sure does suck. Yep, I'll be the first one to admit I've thrown a few chairs in my time.
But as gut-wrenching of a loss as this was, it's not a loss that's the end of the world regarding the season.
The Giants still have a lot of football left and can put this game behind them next Sunday by beating the Browns.
That kind of preparation is what makes Coughlin one of the NFL's most elite coaches.
Giant fans, take my advice here.
I know trying to sleep after Sunday night will be rough. And trying to forget this Eagles game will be a tough one.
But, think of the bigger picture. In the end, the Giants will be just fine in 2012.