PHILADELPHIA — This is the uncomfortable end for these Giants.
There will be no fairy tale.
It was a complete loss by the Giants. A knockout by the Eagles. The Eagles’ pass rush showed up. In fact, the entire Eagles team showed up.
As Giants coach Brian Daboll said moments after Eagles 38, Giants 7 on Saturday night: “Well, crash landing here. Give Philly credit. They did everything better than we did today. Tough game. Really got beat in all facets. It wasn’t one thing in particular. It’s a team game and we didn’t get it done. So congrats to Philly. They get to move on and unfortunately, we don’t.”
With that, Daboll, having just completed a season in which he will get at least some consideration for Coach of the Year, capped the events at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles did what they wanted. Jalen Hurts had no issues with his shoulder. His teammates had no issues with the Giants.
The Giants won the coin toss and deferred.
Four minutes, 54 seconds later, the Eagles took the lead on a 16-yard pass from Hurts to tight end Dallas Goedert. It all seemed too easy. The Eagles converted two manageable third downs, one on third-and-3, the other on third-and-5. Goedert even sent a message, pushing away cornerback Adoree’ Jackson’s attempted tackle with ease.
The Giants’ first possession went differently. After a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Richie James and a 16-yarder to tight end Lawrence Cager, Saquon Barkley gained seven yards on two carries.
On third-and-3, Jones was sacked by Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat.
On fourth-and-8 from the Philadelphia 40-yard line, Daboll elected to go for it. Jones was sacked by Reddick for an 8-yard loss.
“With where we were with our kicker,” Daboll said, “we were past that [in terms of attempting a field goal]. So I felt good about the play we had worked out throughout the week. We had practiced a fair amount of fourth downs. We just didn’t get it done.”
That moment seemed to change the game. Whether there actually was a tinge of desperation in the decision isn’t really the point. It seemed to be a reach so early in the game.
“It was a collective effort in terms of not being able to get it done,” Daboll said. “That starts with me.”
The Giants were worked over in almost every capacity.
Hurts completed 16 of 24 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
He also rushed nine times for 34 yards and a touchdown.
“Jalen’s a good football player,” Daboll said. “That’s why he’s in the MVP race. They did everything well. Ten of 14 on third down, four of five in the red zone, 270 yards, controlled the game . . . They played good offensive football.”
Jones was 15-for-27 for 135 yards and an interception and was sacked five times. It felt as if he didn’t complete a pass of consequence in the game.
Barkley was bottled up by the Eagles. He rushed nine times for 61 yards, including a long gain of 39 — which means he gained 22 yards on his other eight carries.
“I appreciate our team,” Daboll said. “I told those guys I appreciate their effort all year. Their work ethic, the people in the organization, but Philly deserved to win that game. So it’s a crash landing in the playoffs. Losses hurt. These losses hurt even more.”
It almost certainly didn’t matter if the Giants gambled early on that fourth-down try or not. A daring approach wasn’t going to help them on this night. They were simply outclassed.
That Reddick got that early, critical sack wasn’t a surprise. He led the Eagles with 16 in the regular season.
The Eagles’ defensive front is formidable, to say the least. They racked up 70 sacks on the season, using a punishing rotation of defenders. They don’t have to blitz to generate heat.
The game was over by halftime. Given how the Giants played during the regular season, they probably deserved better. But they aren’t in the Eagles’ class right now. And on Saturday night, it wasn’t close.
At the end of the first quarter, the score was 14-0. At the end of the second, it was 28-0.
In the second quarter, the Eagles had the ball for 10 minutes, 33 seconds. They scored two more touchdowns, one on a 3-yard run by Boston Scott, the other a 5-yard run by Hurts.
With 6:15 left in the third quarter,, the Giants broke through when Barkley took a direct snap and handed the ball to Matt Breida, who ran it in from the 8-yard line. The 10-play, 88-yard drive made it 28-7.
This is a Giants team that clearly laid a foundation this season under Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen.
But the truth hurts, and the Giants were not in the Eagles’ class on Saturday night, nor were they in the Eagles’ class on Dec. 11 at MetLife Stadium in Philadelphia’s 48-22 romp.
The 2022 Giants made strides.
But, clearly, much work remains.