What a flop.
No, not Daniel Jones’s nose dive at the end of his 80-yard run, when he tripped over the 15-yard line with no defenders around him and came up 8 yards short of a touchdown. That was embarrassing, but at least the Giants were able to shrug it off a few plays later when Wayne Gallman scored a touchdown from the 1 to give them a lead midway through the third quarter.
No, the less literal but more painful faceplant took place later in the game, after the Giants had built a 21-10 lead with 6:17 remaining and seemed to be within reach of a second straight victory that would have hoisted them improbably close to the top of the NFC East standings.
Instead they crumbled and lost to the Eagles, 22-21, to fall to 1-6 on the season and suffer an eighth straight loss to their division rival.
Each generation, it seems, receives a gut punch from the Eagles, from Chuck Bednarik’s hit on Frank Gifford to Joe Pisarcik’s fumble to Matt Dodge’s punt. Add to that painful litany Evan Engram’s drop – and all that followed it on Thursday night -- that will sit like a peach pit in the stomach of Giants fans for years.
This one came with an avalanche of gaffes in the final 2:14 of the game. First and foremost, Engram had a third-down pass that likely would have sealed the win go off his hands for an incompletion. Jones put the ball out perfectly for the tight end, who had a step on the defender, but the ball glanced off his outstretched fingertips.
It was a catch that Engram said he "100 percent" should have made.
"Obviously it’s frustrating not making the play and possibly putting the game on ice," he said. "We definitely let one get away. Not a good feeling."
But they still had the lead. Until the game skidded out of their control.
When the Giants punted after Engram’s drop, Corey Ballentine was flagged for a personal foul that allowed the Eagles to start their game-winning drive at the 29 rather than the 14 with 2:02 left. Carson Wentz hit back-to-back passes to tight end Richard Rodgers, picked up a first down on a pass interference penalty against James Bradberry, and had first-and-goal after a defensive holding call against Logan Ryan. The Eagles were pushed back to the 18 on a facemask penalty against center Jason Kelce, but Wentz hit Boston Scott, the running back about as tall as the pylon, at the pylon, with 40 seconds left to put Philadelphia ahead 22-21.
"I gotta make that play," said safety Jabrill Peppers, in one-on-one coverage against Scott on the touchdown. "It hurts. But I’m a man. I’ll take it on the chin, learn from it, and make sure it never happens again."
Against the Eagles, that’s a tough promise to try to keep. Not only has there been Giants historic misery against this team, but recent ineptitude as well. The Giants have not won at Lincoln Financial Field since 2013 and in their last three visits have blown second-half leads of 16, 14 and now 11 points.
"This is a tough one to swallow," linebacker Blake Martinez said. "I hate to say it, but it’s the same thing over and over again. Just lapses, one guy here, one guy there, not doing our job."
The game was played a level befitting two teams with two combined victories and yet challenging to compete in the lowly NFC East. The Eagles led 10-7 after a first half that saw the Giants and Eagles combine for three turnovers, but also saw neither of them capitalize on those takeaways for any points. Even the drive that gave the Giants the lead midway through the third quarter included a blooper worthy of the worst division in recent NFL history.
Jones took a read option through the right side of the offensive line and had nothing but open field ahead of him. Instead of an 82-yard score, though, the quarterback tumbled to the ground at the 8.
"I was just trying to run faster than I was running and got caught up," Jones demurred. He hit 21.23 miles per hour on the dash, according to the broadcast, which is the fastest speed registered by a quarterback this season.
Jones and the rest of the team were able to laugh that off only after Gallman leaped into the end zone to give the Giants a 14-10 lead four plays after the flop.
"That was a relief," Jones said.
The lead held into the fourth quarter when the Giants stopped the Eagles on a fourth-and-goal pass from the 3. Ryan batted the ball away from Hakeem Butler to preserve their advantage. The Giants offense responded with a much more graceful drive, marching 97 yards in 15 plays. Jones capped it with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard, activated off injured reserve earlier in the day, with 6:17 remaining to go ahead 21-10.
After the Eagles closed to 21-16 with 4:38 left (they failed on a two-point attempt), the Giants had an opportunity to run out the clock. Gallman picked up two quick first downs, then the Eagles stuffed him twice, which set up third-and-6 from the 38.
And the pass for Engram. And that was that.
"We had a phenomenal chance in this game to win and set ourselves up," Peppers said.
Like Jones’ long run, it was a thing of beauty.
Right up until the point that it wasn’t.