New York Giants' Loss Effectively Ends NFC East Hopes

Jeff ShullAnalyst IDecember 14, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants throws a pass against the Dallas Cowboys on December 6, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Cowboys 31-24.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Despite Eli Manning having one of the best games of his career, the New York Giants fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 45-38 on Sunday Night Football.

Even with the team scoring 38 points, there were many mistakes on offense that cost the Giants the victory.

Most notable was Hakeem Nicks dropping two definite touchdown passes despite having a pretty good game in his first start over Mario Manningham.

However, he wasn't the only one getting in the mix of the drops.

Kevin Boss and Steve Smith each dropped big catches, and Manningham doesn't seem to grasp the idea that the thick white line on either side of the field is bad news.

Maybe he should click his red shoes together and get some answers.

Probably the most costly mistake was the Brandon Jacobs fumble in the first quarter, which was returned for a 60-yard touchdown by Sheldon Brown.

It actually seemed to anger Jacobs, and he got the running game going, but it shouldn't take a catastrophic mistake to pump you up in a divisional game—especially when that game would put you in sole control of the NFC East.

A recurring question that has been thrown around all year is this: Where has the pass rush gone?

Am I missing something? What in the world is wrong with the defensive line? They were one of the best last year, and the only thing that changed is them adding depth to it in the offseason.

You could make the argument that losing Jay Alford for the season really hurt, but he honestly did not get much playing time in 2008, when the D-line was so dominant.

Getting Osi Umenyiora back was supposed to be the X-factor in a Super Bowl run, but all it did was create a gaping hole in the right side of the run defense and force the coaches to bench him, making him a glorified pass rushing backup.

I thought he was better than Dave Tollefson.

What pains me more than anything is the fact that the run defense has been fantastic the past two weeks, which you would think would allow them to focus on pass coverage. Instead, all teams have done is throw the ball with ease and move the ball despite averaging three yards per carry or less.

I lied. What is even more painful than that is the fact that the Giants outgained the Eagles by nearly 150 yards and still lost. This largely has to do with the fact that the Giants haven't figured out how to stop DeSean Jackson in his past four games against them.

Jackson burned them on a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown that featured some pretty terrible coverage. Jackson barely had to get five yards off the sideline and even ran backwards to start the play.

Then he burned the safeties on a 60-yard touchdown catch that came one play after a 61-yard touchdown catch to Domenik Hixon. It meant the Giants held the lead all of 15 seconds.

The real problem on this play was that Donovan McNabb had four seconds to throw the ball. In case you didn't know, that is an eternity for a football play. The pass rush needs to get its act together and fast.

The only positive thing that happened yesterday is that Dallas ensured they would have yet another December without a winning record.

With a game against the Saints next week, the Giants can take the lead in the wild card with a win at Washington and a Dallas defeat.

At this point, a playoff berth is the only thing that can salvage an otherwise disappointing season.