Eagles vs. Giants: Giants Collapse Team Effort, Blame Cannot Go on Matt Dodge

Mike OsterbergCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2010

Matt Dodge was a goat, but he wasn't the only one
Matt Dodge was a goat, but he wasn't the only oneAl Bello/Getty Images

When Kevin Boss reeled in an eight-yard touchdown strike from Eli Manning with 8:17 to go in the fourth quarter, the Giants seemed to have the game locked up, as they took a 31-10 lead. 

The Eagles had other ideas. 

The Giants proceeded to collapse like few have ever collapsed before, surrendering 28 points in the final 7:28 to blow one of the biggest games of their season. 

It would be easy to put this loss on Matt Dodge, but there's plenty of blame to go around.

The rookie punter's unspeakably bad kick allowed DeSean Jackson to score the game-winning touchdown as time expired, but he had nothing to do with the 21 points scored previous to his punt. 

Special teams has been an issue all year, and the real goat of that unit should be Tom Quinn. Quinn is the Giants special teams coordinator, and he did a poor job of preparing his players for the possibility of an onsides kick. 

When that possibility became a reality, the special teams players responsible for guarding against such an onsides kick were already down the field.

That comes down to coaching, and poor coaching at that. 

That was an egregious error, but it was the least of the New York's issues. The game still could have been won by the Giants at that point, but their strongest unit abandoned them. 

The biggest problem in the second half and, more specifically, the fourth quarter, was the defense's inability to make stops.

Much of their ineffectiveness was due to play-calling. 

Perry Fewell has been a wizard this year with his defense, but the fourth quarter on Sunday was far from his finest hour. He began to rely much too heavily on the blitz, and his players were constantly allowing Vick to break contain. 

On Brent Celek's 65-yard touchdown catch that started the comeback, Fewell had Tuck dropping into coverage on Celek 30 yards down the field. 

I realize that Tuck is athletic, but at some point Fewell needs to reign in his dependence on the zone blitz and understand that Justin Tuck cannot cover a tight end down the seam. 

As well as the safety blitzes were working through the first three quarters, Fewell should have realized that Vick began to rely more on his legs near the end of the game.

The philosophy of sending defensive backs up to the line of scrimmage to make the big play should have taken a back seat to containment. 

On the rare occasions that the Giants maintained their containment in the fourth quarter, they missed the tackles. 

Deon Grant let Vick slip right through his grasp in the backfield, and Vick made him pay with a 3-yard run. 

That being said, the blame can't lie solely with the defense. 

The offense had four drives in the fourth quarter, and three of them lasted less than 2:27. The Giants should have relied on their rushing attack to burn clock and eliminate any chance the Eagles had of winning. 

The rushing attack wasn't quite as potent today as it has been in recent weeks, but had they continued to pound the ball up the middle, the tired Eagle defense would have eventually relented. 

Quite simply, the Giants did nothing right in the fourth quarter. It takes failure on multiple levels to allow 28 points in a little over seven minutes, and no unit is without fault. 

Due to this loss, the Giants now have an even bigger game coming up with the Green Bay Packers. In all likelihood, the winner of that game will be a wild-card team while the loser will miss out on the playoffs. 

The Giants made it hard on themselves with a loss this week, but the season is far from over. 

Mike Osterberg is a student at Penn State University and Featured Columnist for the New York Giants. Follow him on twitter @Mike_Osterberg.