PHILADELPHIA - It may have been the best five minutes of the season for the Giants. They drove the ball 80 yards for a touchdown without breaking a sweat or even facing a third down. Then they forced a quick three-and-out. Then they were driving again, looking to go up by two touchdowns with a quarterback who completed his first 10 passes.
"We were rolling," tight end Larry Donnell said. "We kind of felt like we were going to take over and dominate."
Guard Justin Pugh had the same feeling: "I'm thinking in my head: 'Hey, they can't stop us.' "
If the Giants had been able to maintain that fast start for even a portion of the rest of Monday night's game, they might have been OK. Instead, they completely unraveled, allowing the Eagles to score the next 27 points and cruise to a 27-7 victory. Four Eagles turnovers were reduced to mere footnotes while the glaring errors made by the Giants constituted major turning points.
All three Eagles touchdowns were aided by costly Giants errors, including two penalties that prolonged drives and an interception returned for six points.
"You can't play like that," Tom Coughlin said. "That's bad football."
It certainly was, and it started with last week's hero giving the football away. Donnell, who caught the winning touchdown against the 49ers, bobbled a pass at the Eagles' 22 that was intercepted by DeMeco Ryans.
On third-and-10, the Eagles threw a short pass that was stopped short of a first down, but Damontre Moore inexplicably picked up and body-slammed quarterback Sam Bradford after he released the ball.
The penalty resulted in a first down, and four plays later, the Eagles scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper.
"Honestly, I think it was just me having a poor football IQ and not being aware of the rules of dumping him, because I dumped him," Moore said. "I was just trying to make a play and be a high-energy guy . . . I have to get my football IQ and awareness up and get a better understanding of the rules so I can eliminate those penalties."
Those may have been the gaffes that set off the landslide of missteps, but there were plenty waiting behind them to swallow the Giants.
The Giants had a chance to convert on third-and-1 at the Eagles' 41 late in the first quarter but Rashad Jennings was stopped for no gain, though it appeared his forward progress had given him the first down. Coughlin, however, did not challenge the spot or even ask for a measurement. Instead, the Giants attempted a fourth-down run to the left that was stopped for a loss of 2.
The Giants' next series ended even more abruptly. Eli Manning tried to hit Dwayne Harris on a wide receiver screen, but his pass was intercepted by Nolan Carroll and returned 17 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-7. A late field goal gave the Eagles a 17-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Giants forced another punt that was wiped out by a flag. This time Nikita Whitlock dived into the punter to give the Eagles a first down and extended a drive that wound up in the end zone for a 24-7 edge. Whitlock thought he was blocked into the punter, but he conceded it was a momentum-changing play.
Even when the Eagles made similar mistakes, the Giants couldn't take advantage. An interception by Jayron Hosley in the second quarter led nowhere. In the third, a forced fumble by Uani 'Unga that was recovered by Moore resulted in a punt four plays later. An interception by Brandon Meriweather yielded a three-and-out. Landon Collins intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the third quarter. The Giants' next series was like the rest of them: three-and-out.
After 10 first downs in the first quarter, the Giants managed eight the rest of the game. Odell Beckham Jr., who scored the touchdown on the opening drive, was targeted only once in the second half and did not have a reception.
"I'm very disappointed in the outcome," Coughlin said. "I thought from the second drive when we should have had 14 points on the board . . . the offense showed nothing."