These 2019 Giants have sullied plenty.
Eli Manning’s last year with the team. Pat Shurmur’s chances of sticking around into 2020. An opportunity to compete for an NFC East title in a dismally down year for the division. Even, to many, a chance to secure the No. 2 overall draft pick, which vanished when the Giants pulled out a win over Washington a week ago.
On Sunday, they hope to ruin one last element before the page turns to the offseason and the changes that are sure to come. This time, though, it’s not their hopes and aspirations they want to sink. It’s Philadelphia's.
When the Eagles arrive at MetLife Stadium, they will be looking for a win that will clinch a playoff berth. They can get in with a loss if the Cowboys lose to the Redskins in a game that will be played at the same time on Sunday, but Philadelphia is treating this as a sort of play-in game. The Eagles don’t want to concede control to another game in another stadium.
“Every team sets out to win their division each year, and things didn’t look too good for us obviously just a few weeks ago, but our guys have battled, put ourselves in this position,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “It is gratifying to be in this position.”
“We go home after this game and won’t be in the playoffs, so we’re trying to do the same to them,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “We want to play spoiler. We want to send them home. We want to get this dub [as in 'W'] and knock them out.”
Not all of the Giants are concerned about the impact the game will have on the Eagles. Pat Shurmur has tried hard all week to keep his players focused on their own jobs, on what a victory would mean to them. It would give them three straight wins to end a miserable season, allow them to match last year’s win total with five, and have rookie quarterback Daniel Jones on something of a roll heading into his first NFL offseason.
“The internal messaging is we have to do everything in our power to win a game,” Shurmur said. “That’s the internal messaging. But we’re well-aware of what the external messaging is. We’re going to do what we can to put a winning performance on the field.”
That the season will end at MetLife Stadium is something of an impetus for the Giants.
“We definitely don’t want them out there celebrating on our field,” Bethea said. “You never want it to be a situation where you are walking off the field and the other team is still out there celebrating.”
The Giants also remain sour about the way their last game against the Eagles ended three weeks ago. On Dec. 9, the Giants faced the Eagles in a Monday night game and took a 17-3 halftime lead. They wound up losing in overtime, 23-17, and never touched the football in the extra period.
That was the last time they lost a game. Since then they have won twice, scored their season-high in points in back-to-back weeks, and lifted some of the clouds that had gathered over the franchise during an interminable nine-game losing streak.
Those wins have been against teams with a combined six victories, so they’re hardly statement moments. On Sunday, however, the Giants have a chance to beat a playoff-bound team.
Even better, a chance to deny them from being one.
“Our mindset is to go out and win our last game,” Shurmur said. “We know that this is our last game and we’re trying to do what we can to go out and win it. What happens beyond that, after that, we’ll just see what happens.”
Late moves: The Giants signed TE Garrett Dickerson from their practice squad and placed TE Scott Simonson on injured reserve. Simonson had already been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a concussion when symptoms showed on Thursday. Dickerson and rookie Kaden Smith are the only active tight ends for the game.