There were flashes of competence throughout the game, such as Daniel Jones’ 80-yard run (despite the ridiculous way it ended), his quick-strike touchdown pass to Golden Tate, and a 15-play, 97-yard drive that ended in a touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard. Even Wayne Gallman looked pretty good carrying the ball. But when the Giants needed plays the most, they were unable to make them. They got the ball with 4:34 left and a chance to run out the clock but couldn’t, punting it to the Eagles for the game-winning drive with 2:02 remaining. When they got it back with 40 seconds left they never even flirted with potential game-winning field goal range before Jones was stripped on a sack and fumbled it away. It was one of three turnovers by the Giants. Patience must be running out for rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas who allowed numerous pressures and hits on Jones.
There must be something about the two-minute warning that makes the Giants’ defense fold. Game after game they allow teams to score at the end of halves, and this one was no exception as the Eagles went 71 yards on six plays in just 1:22 to win the game. Outside of allowing two touchdowns in the final 4:38 of the game, they actually had some good moments, including a goal line stand early in the fourth quarter and an interception by James Bradberry in the end zone in the second quarter (his third of the season). But the Eagles, a team playing without many of its most productive stars such as Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz, and without most of its starting offensive line, gained 442 yards and had 346 net passing yards, both season highs against the Giants.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
Let’s talk about Corey Ballentine. The second-year player flamed out as a starting defensive back so the Giants moved him to special teams. That doesn’t seem to suit him well, either. Despite numerous attempts as a kickoff returner he is unable to make any explosive plays. Not only that, but he made two of the biggest mistakes for the unit on Thursday. First he failed to look back to punter Riley Dixon when he was uncovered as the gunner, which prevented Dixon from throwing him an easy pass that would have given the Giants an easy first down. Later in the game he was flagged for leading with his helmet on a tackle of DeSean Jackson on the final punt, handing the Eagles an extra 15 yards to start their game-winning drive from the 29 rather than the 14. Inexcusable errors that may cost him his job. As for those who won’t be fired, they weren’t exactly sharp either. Jabrill Peppers had a nice 14-yard punt return in the first half to set up a short field for the offense at the 39, but he fair caught two punts inside the 20 in the second half despite having room to gain yards. Dixon put three of his six punts inside the 20 and kicker Graham Gano, who looked to injure his kicking leg during the game, did not attempt any field goals.
After the game, while the players were shaking hands at midfield, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham sat alone on the bench. What must he have been thinking about after being handed an 11-point lead and yielding 12 points in the final 4:38 of the game? Probably the same thing most Giants fans were contemplating at around the same time, wondering how the Giants were able to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. Graham has to figure out a way to get the defense to play better at critical times, namely those end-of-half situations that have been deadly for the them and the team all season. Jason Garrett called a fairly aggressive game; it was nice to see Jones throw the ball down the field a bit more than usual… and aggravating when he didn’t have time to do so. It will be interesting to see whether the staff has the courage to bench the fourth overall pick, rookie Andrew Thomas, after another lackluster performance. He is not just getting beat, he is not showing up on some blocks that are costing the Giants dearly.