The New York Giants started its game against the hated division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles not having won a game. At 0-4, its season was at DEFCON 5 and with no help in sight, with a patchwork offensive line and a non-existent running game. The defensive line hasn’t been much help either (the overall defense giving up a league leading 37 points per game) failing to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. So it appeared to be a good omen for Big Blue when they were able to stop Michael Vick on 3 downs the first time the Eagles had the ball. It was even a better sign when they marched down the field the first time Eli Manning and the offense took possession.
Starting on its own 38, Manning set out to exploit the Eagles secondary. After wide receiver Rueben Randle drops a long pass, his teammate Hakim Nicks picks him up by hauling in a 49-yard pass to the Philly 12-yard line. Two plays later, David Wilson runs it in from the 5 giving the Giants a 7-0 lead. The ever elusive Vick runs for 48 total yards but it only led to an Alex Henery 40-yard field goal the first of four he would connect on in the first half.
The Giants offense, which started with much promise, staggered the next four times it got the ball failing to put any points on the board. Running back Brandon Jacobs, who was brought back by the team to help improve the running game, fumbled in the second quarter. The look on head coach Tom Coughlin’s face said it all. Making matters worse, Wilson was lost for the game with a neck injury. The injury bug hit the Eagles as well with Vick having to leave the game with a hamstring strain but backup QB Nick Foles came in and completed 7 of 8 passes for 68 yards that put the final points on the board and 19-7 Philadelphia lead.
With the boos raining down on the home team, the Giants continued to hurt themselves on both sides of the ball. Another three and out began the third quarter then a costly challenge resulted in them losing two timeouts. Foles’ short pass to LeSean McCoy on the Eagles sideline is challenged by Coughlin but not before he called a timeout. The replay upheld the call so the Giants get burned losing its second timeout with more than 12 minutes remaining.
Said Coughlin on his decision to call the timeout, “we thought the challenge would be reversed. I just took a time out to settle the team down.”
As bad as things were going, Manning gets them into the end zone on their next two possessions with Randle redeeming himself catching a 26-yard touchdown pass to get them within 5 (19-14). Manning and Randle would hook up again, this time for a 6-yard touchdown pass giving the Giants a brief lead 21-19 as Foles puts the Eagles in position for Henery to kick his 5th field goal of the day and a 22-21 lead. Then the 4th quarter came and just about ended the season for the New York Giants.
Manning’s second possession of the 4th quarter was a microcosm of his season. He entered the game having already thrown 9 interceptions many of them of the head-scratching variety. His next three were in the same vein. Trying to get a short pass to Jacobs, the ball hits off his offensive lineman’s helmet before Eagles Mychal Kendricks comes down with the ball. The refs failed to notice that Manning was slapped in the helmet or the fact that a pass can’t be caught after hitting an offensive player not eligible to catch a pass. One play later, Foles finds tight end Brent Celek in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass putting the Philly up by 8. Plenty of time left for the Giants to score, convert the 2-point conversion and tie the game or simply get a stop hoping for a game winning drive. It would not happen.
At their own 20, Manning looks deep for wide receiver Victor Cruz who is double covered. As both he and Brendan Boykin tumble to the turf as the ball arrive, it is Boykin that comes away with the interception.
"I know I can play better," said Manning, who was 24 of 52 for 334 yards. "Sometimes, things are going to go wrong, but you've got to make the best decision. Throw it away, take a sack. I know I can't keep turning the ball over every time."
Four plays later Foles puts the final nail in the coffin with a 5-yard td pass to Jackson. Manning’s final interception gave him 12 on the year.
A thoroughly confused Eli Manning admitted his struggles five games into a lost season.
“I know I can play better,” he started. “I know I can’t keep turning the ball over every time.”
As positive as Coughlin and his players sounded after the game, the reality of the matter is that their record is 0-5. Making matters worse is they are faced with a short week traveling to Chicago to play the Bears Thursday night. There is not one aspect of their game that is working. It may get a lot worse before it gets better.