Had Evan Engram made the catch on the perfectly placed pass from Daniel Jones, maybe the Giants would be looking to pad their lead in the NFC East, and not clinging to hope that they can keep the NFC East race alive.
Had the fourth-year tight end not seen the ball skitter off his hands on a deep route down the left sideline, it might have been the Eagles looking up at the Giants in this wacky divisional race in which a team with a losing record might just end up going to the playoffs.
Instead, Engram dropped what might have been the pass to seal an unlikely Week 7 victory over the Eagles and instead serve as the prelude to a fourth-quarter collapse that left the team reeling.
"Just how the game ended wasn’t a really good feeling," Engram said Thursday, reliving for a moment one of the biggest mistakes of his career. "Definitely after that game, that was a really tough one. Real disappointing, coming up that short."
The chance for redemption comes on Sunday.
The Eagles come to MetLife Stadium for the divisional rematch, and it’s the 2-7 Giants who have a chance to catch 3-4-1 Philadelphia in the win column and perhaps make this a two-team race down the stretch.
Engram would like nothing better than to erase the memory of the dropped pass on what would have been gotten the Giants to the Eagles' 25 – and perhaps even produced a game-sealing touchdown. Especially if he can make a play that would lead the Giants to victory.
Credit Engram for owning the mistake afterward, no matter how painful the circumstances. But also know that he will do everything in his power to make it right. A good start was Sunday’s 23-20 win over Washington, when Engram made a diving catch in the end zone to give the Giants a 20-3 lead going into halftime.
Engram was rumored to be on the trading block for a second straight year, but it was the Giants who turned down offers at last week’s deadline. And Engram did his work in rewarding that faith.
"I’m not a guy that’s going to make excuses," Engram said. "I never point the finger at anybody else in that moment. That’s a play I should have made (against the Eagles), but a lot of the young guys (ln the Giants) definitely see the ways guys respond to adversity. For me, just to kind of own that and respond the right way with the work going forward, that was important to me."
And it appears the Giants will continue to use Engram in ways that make the offense more versatile.
"You can do a lot of different things with Evan," coach Joe Judge said. "(Offensive coordinator) Jason (Garrett) has done a good job of moving him around as a chess piece, playing him some in the backfield, flexing him out wide like a receiver and then playing him attached as a tight end. To have a guy like that on the field that you can do a lot of different things with really presents some issues to the other team."
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Engram, a former first-round pick out of Mississippi who has tantalized the Giants with his speed and playmaking ability, but also disappointed them with his tendency to drop passes. None was more critical than the one against the Eagles.
"The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to stay in the moment," Engram said. "There’s been a lot of times when I’ve allowed a bad play to linger, and mentally it will mess me up and won’t allow me to prepare for the next play."
He has learned to maintain more of an even keel.
"When the mistake happens and the bad plays do happen," he said, "you have to flush them. But when the time is right, you work on things you need to improve on that could have prevented that. The biggest thing is staying in that exact moment and be prepared for the next opportunity I will get."
The next opportunity comes Sunday, when the Giants will attempt to break an eight-game losing streak to the Eagles.
"Obviously, it’s a division rival that we’ve got to beat," he said. "We’ve been on the losing end a lot of times, and we have an opportunity to change that this Sunday. That’s what we’re focused on."
No excuses for Engram this time. If the ball comes to him again in a big spot, it’s time to play the role of the hero, not the goat.