PHILADELPHIA — The sleeping Giants awoke, but the nightmare start to this season continues.
Jake Elliott’s 61-yard field goal as time expired gave the Eagles a 27-24 win at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, sinking the Giants to 0-3 and negating what could have been a breakout performance to get them back on track.
The team that totaled only 13 points in its first two games and was held scoreless through three quarters erupted for three touchdowns in a span of just over five minutes in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough.
“A tough one,” Eli Manning said. “Tough one just because of the way we fought back and took the lead, took it a couple of times. The events at the end of the game, to lose that way is tough.”
Those events included coming up short by less than a yard on a third-and-15 pass, shanking a short punt out of bounds and allowing a 19-yard catch, with the receiver getting out of bounds to stop the clock with one second left to set up the winning kick.
Ben McAdoo talks about complementary football, all three areas helping each other. In the game’s final 28 seconds, all three faltered.
“A lot of guys are disappointed right now, and rightfully so,” McAdoo said. “The game continues to teach us tough lessons that we have to learn from and learn from in a hurry.”
The last time the Giants were 0-3 was 2013, when it took them seven games to finally win. While they are far from mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs, history shows their odds to be astronomical. In the 27 seasons since the NFL expanded the postseason format to 12 teams in 1990, of the 132 teams that began 0-3, only three made it to the playoffs — the last being the Bills in 1998.
“It’s gonna come,” cornerback Janoris Jenkins said of the elusive first win in a season that was so full of promise and now teeters on despair.
For a while, it seemed as if it would come Sunday.
Trailing 14-0, the Giants tied it with two touchdown catches by Odell Beckham Jr. in 86 seconds, then used a 77-yard catch-and-run by Sterling Shepard to take a 21-14 lead, their first of the season. After an Eagles touchdown tied it again, Aldrick Rosas’ 41-yard field goal with 3:08 left gave the Giants a 24-21 lead. Elliott kicked a 46-yarder to tie it with 51 seconds left.
The Giants could have done any number of things to push toward field-goal range, or even hold on to the ball for less than a minute.
“I definitely thought the game was going to overtime,” Giants safety Landon Collins said. What they wound up doing was coming unraveled.
The 14 1⁄2-yard pass from Manning to Evan Engram on third-and-15, after a holding penalty on tackle Ereck Flowers, gave the ball back to the Eagles.
“We were right there at the sticks on fourth down,” McAdoo said. “If we converted there, it would have given us an opportunity to get in field-goal range on one more play. We still had a chance to win the ballgame at that point.”
That chance quickly evaporated.
“A terrible loss,” defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said.
Although the closing moments doomed the Giants, there were plenty of chances earlier. The most glaringly lost opportunity was at the end of the first half, when the Giants had first-and-goal at the 10 and came away without any points.
After an 8-yard pass to Beckham, Manning completed a pass to Shepard that initially was ruled a touchdown, but after a review, the ball was spotted just outside the goal line. On third-and-goal, Manning hit Shepard again, but this time he was unable to hang on to the ball through the entirety of the catch.
“I’m trying to figure out what a touchdown catch is and what isn’t a touchdown catch right now,” McAdoo groused about the ambiguity of such calls. “They said he dropped the ball and went out of bounds. That’s the information I got.”
The Giants still had one more down, though. Manning handed off to Orleans Darkwa, but the push from the Eagles’ line was so great that Darkwa was not even able to leave his feet for what looked to be an attempt to dive over the pile.
The Giants also couldn’t take advantage in the third quarter after the Eagles missed a 52-yard field-goal try. On the second play, Manning tried to hit Beckham on a slant and the pass was batted in the air by linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Patrick Robinson made the interception, the Eagles’ second of the game.
As the winning kick sailed toward the goalposts, the Giants looked on from various angles and perspectives. Pierre-Paul said he thought he could have blocked it with a bull rush up the middle.
“I was getting closer and closer with every field-goal attempt they had,” he said. “I knew it was gonna come down to a field goal or a blocked kick or something, and it actually did.”
Beckham was standing under the crossbar, waiting to return a short attempt.
“I thought maybe we’d have a shot with Odell,” Manning said.
So did Beckham.
“I was praying that he kicked it short and I was going to be able to run it back and we were going to have that feeling that they had, winning at the last second,” he said.
Instead, that sensation belonged to the Eagles, and the Giants will have to wait at least another week before experiencing it for the first time this year.
Longest FGs in NFL history:
Matt Prater, Denver vs. Tennessee, Dec. 8, 2013
Tom Dempsey, NO vs. Detroit, Nov. 8, 1970
Jason Elam, Denver vs. Jacksonville, Oct. 25, 1998
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland at Denver, Sept. 12, 2011
David Akers, SF at GB, Sept. 9, 2012
Matt Bryant, TB vs. Phila., Oct. 22, 2006
Jake Elliott, Giants at Phila., Sept. 24, 2017
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland at Cleveland, Dec. 27, 2009
Jay Feely, Arizona vs. Buffalo, Oct. 14, 2012
Justin Tucker, Baltimore at Detroit, Dec. 16, 2013
Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis at Minnesota, Nov. 8, 2015