Sloppy interceptions. Fumbled footballs. A possible game-winning pass in the final seconds that goes through the hands of its intended receiver.
These are the elements that usually figure into the fate of the Giants whenever they face the Eagles. For most of their recent history, games against this division rival in particular have been punctuated with self-inflicted errors and, ultimately, heartbreak.
But on Sunday, it was the Giants who prevailed while the Eagles melted away. It was their quarterback, Jalen Hurts, who threw three interceptions. It was their running back, noted Giants-slayer Boston Scott, who coughed up the ball on a drive that could have given them the lead. And it was their receiver, Jalen Reagor, who had an opportunity to join Scott and DeSean Jackson and Herm Edwards in the long lore of Eagles players who have driven daggers into the souls of Giants fans for decades, but he failed to pull in the fourth-down pass at the goal line with 15 seconds remaining.
"A heart-stopping play," Giants safety Julian Love said of that moment.
Added fellow safety Xavier McKinney: "I was happy that they dropped it."
And happier still, no doubt, that the Giants won.
The offense still is an issue, even after the firing of coordinator Jason Garrett last week, but the Giants’ defense showed it can single-handedly win a game for this team.
Between takeaways and turnovers on downs, they stopped six Eagles drives in their own territory, including one that reached the Giants’ 1 in the final seconds of the first half and two in the final two minutes of the game, for a hard-earned 13-7 victory.
" 'Help’ is an understatement," Daniel Jones said of the impact of the defense. "That was huge."
The Giants (4-7) still are in last place in the NFC East (Washington is 4-6 and plays Monday night), but they now trail Philadelphia (5-7) by a half-game and Dallas (7-4) by three with six to play . . . and one against each division rival.
This game, though, was less about standings and postseason jostling than overcoming a tumultuous week that began with an embarrassing loss to the Bucs last Monday night, continued with the coaching staff shakeup and included the injury-related absences of key players (this time it was receiver Kadarius Toney who missed the game).
"We needed that, not just as a win in the column but to set the standard for the team," Love said. "We want to be a physical, tough, resilient team, and I think that showed in a lot of ways today."
The change in offensive play-caller from Garrett to Freddie Kitchens did little to free up the Giants’ supposed playmakers. Saquon Barkley ran for 40 yards on 13 carries — 32 of them on one carry — and caught four passes for 13 yards. Kenny Golladay was targeted seven times and caught three of those passes for 50 yards.
The only Giants touchdown was a 1-yard pass to recent practice squad tight end Chris Myarick in the third quarter that gave the Giants a 10-0 lead. Myarick slid to catch the low pass, and although it came out, the ball got pinned against his leg and then between his knees and never touched the ground.
"Crazy play," said Myarick, who was elevated with Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith sidelined by injuries. "Crazy first regular-season catch for me. First touchdown . . . It was kind of a crazy experience."
That wound up being enough of a cushion for the way the Giants’ defense played on Sunday and, more to the point, the way they forced Hurts 14-for-31, 129 yards, three interceptions, 17.5 passer rating) to play on Sunday.
They gave up a touchdown to Scott on a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter, capping a drive in which the Eagles ran the ball seven straight times, but otherwise pitched a shutout.
The fact that they had to seal the game twice in the final two minutes speaks to the ineptitude of the offense, but also the growth of a defense that has all too often struggled at the ends of halves.
This time Dexter Lawrence knocked the ball out of Scott’s hands and into the arms of Love with 1:34 to play. The Giants went three-and-out and used up just 23 seconds of clock (but the remaining Eagles timeouts) before the defense was back on the field to try to hold again.
After the Eagles took a 38-yard shot in the end zone to Reagor (who dropped that one as well, with rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson there to make sure he did), the Eagles completed a pass to the 27 and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 37 seconds left. Hurts then threw an incompletion to the sideline that was broken up by Steven Parker, a pass over the middle that was nearly intercepted by McKinney, and, on fourth down, the pass to Reagor with Robinson behind him.
"We knew the defense was going to do it," Barkley said. "We have one of the best defenses in the league."
They showed it when Darnay Holmes intercepted Hurts at the Giants’ 5 in the first quarter and when Tae Crowder intercepted Hurts at the 5 to end the second quarter. They showed it when McKinney picked off his former college teammate from Alabama. Hurts gashed them for 77 rushing yards on eight carries, but as long as he had to put the ball in the air, the Giants knew they had an advantage.
"We wanted him to beat us throwing," Love said.
He nearly did at the end in what would have been a very Giants vs. Eagles way. This time, though, there was no miracle comeback to sicken the Giants, who have won two straight against the Eagles after dropping their previous eight against them.
"At the end of the day, we got a win and, obviously, beat Philly," said Barkley, who has been on the other side of that equation far too often in his career. "So there’s a lot more to it."
Not a lot more points, but certainly a lot more smiles.