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Giants Q&A: Pat Shurmur dared Eagles to punt

The Giants' Darius Slayton breaks free from Philadelphia

The Giants' Darius Slayton breaks free from Philadelphia Eagles' Ronald Darby to score a touchdown during the first half.   Credit: AP/Michael Perez

The Giants’ last meaningful offensive snap came with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter. Could they have gotten the ball back with enough time to attempt to score at the end of regulation?

Yes, but Pat Shurmur said he wanted to try to make something happen on an Eagles punt with just a handful of seconds left rather than try to force something on offense with a long field. That’s why he said he did not call a timeout after the Giants made a third-down stop with about 40 seconds remaining.

“I wanted to make sure they punted the ball because you never know, we could have blocked it or we could have returned it for a touchdown,” Shurmur said. “I just wanted one last play there.”

The Eagles were facing fourth-and-1 from the 45 with about 40 seconds left, and there seemed to be uncertainty on the Eagles’ sideline before Shurmur called a timeout with 19 seconds left. Shurmur said he “did dare” the Eagles to punt rather than go for the conversion. “A timeout [earlier] gives them an opportunity to think about whether they want to go for it or not, and you could tell their sideline, they were trying to decide,” he said. “They made the decision to punt it.”

The Giants got the ball back on a touchback with 10 seconds left and took a knee to send the game into overtime.

Is Shurmur concerned about his job?

Not right now. When asked ''do you have confidence that you'll be allowed to finish this season?'' he said: “I do.”

He did acknowledge that it is not a given, considering the Giants’ nine-game losing streak.

Co-owner John Mara walked out of Lincoln Financial Field with teeth bared and flames shooting from his eyeballs after the 23-17 overtime loss, a bad sign for Shurmur.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” the coach said.

Were the Giants less aggressive in the second half, when they managed only 29 yards on 20 offensive snaps?

They say no. “Just because you’re not out there taking 40,000 shots [down the field] doesn’t mean you are playing it safe,” Saquon Barkley said. “Every time I felt like we were getting four or five yards a pop [on the run]. It was the same as last year. We had them where we wanted them, but we have to continue to do it.”

Last year the Giants blew a 19-11 halftime lead in a 25-22 loss.

What the heck was up with that flea-flicker?

For the second week in a row, the Giants tried to run the gadget play and it fell apart. This time at least it went as a completion. On third-and-14 from the 33 midway through the fourth quarter, Manning handed the ball to Barkley, who was swallowed up by the defense. The running back did manage to flip the ball to Manning, and then the defense swarmed him. Manning then was able to flip the ball back to Barkley in hot-potato fashion. The play wound up going for a loss of 1 as Barkley was run out of bounds.

“If you look at the play and go back, we had guys wide open,” Barkley said. “Gotta do a better job on that.”

What happened to Kevin Zeitler?

He wasn’t sure. “All I know is it hurt,” the starting right guard said. He left the game in the fourth quarter after he was inadvertently leg-whipped from behind on a sack of Manning. He left the stadium in a boot and on crutches and will have tests to determine the severity of the injury on Tuesday.

Zeitler said he had “no idea” if it will end his season. “I’m not going to presume anything,” he said. “I feel like I heal well usually and I’m tough, so we’ll figure it out as the week goes on.”

Nick Gates replaced Zeitler for the rest of the game.

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