Sterling Shepard #3 of the New York Giants runs with...

Sterling Shepard #3 of the New York Giants runs with the ball after the catch against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife on Sunday, JAN 7, 2024 in East Rutherford, New Jersey Credit: Mike Stobe


Forget that the Giants scored only three points in the second half; they made their statement in the first, scoring 24 points and totaling 272 yards. At halftime, Tyrod Taylor was 15-for-20 for 229 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and Saquon Barkley had two rushing touchdowns and 80 all-purpose yards. It might have been even better if not for a Taylor interception in the red zone. When it was over, the Giants had 415 total yards, Taylor was 23-for-32 for 297 yards, Darius Slayton caught five passes for 62 yards and Sterling Shepard had a feel-good three receptions in his likely final game as a Giant, giving him 372 and moving him into fifth place on the team’s all-time list, one ahead of Jeremy Shockey.


As with the offense, the story was the first half, and the defense dominated. Through 30 minutes, Philadelphia had five first downs and was 1-for-7 on third downs. Jalen Hurts was 7-for-16 for 55 yards, an interception and a 26.8 passer rating before leaving with a finger injury that could compromise his availability for the wild-card playoff round. Marcus Mariota was less bad in relief, finishing 13-for-20 for 148 yards, a TD and an interception. Xavier McKinney had two interceptions, the first of which was a brilliant athletic play along the sideline. The Giants totaled five sacks. Bobby Okereke completed an outstanding season with eight tackles, including a sack. Azeez Ojulari had two sacks.


Mason Crosby had a 45-yard field goal attempt bounce off the left upright but made two short ones. Jamie Gillan put four of his five punts inside the 20-yard line and averaged a net of 44 yards. Gunner Olszewski had a 15-yard punt return.


Coordinators Wink Martindale and Mike Kafka pulled out all the stops for the season finale, using an aggressive style. That is common for Martindale on defense, but Kafka showed moxie on offense as well. A 46-yard pass down the left sideline to Barkley that set up the third touchdown was a particularly well-designed effort. Head coach Brian Daboll and Kafka showed a bigger-picture feel in working to get Shepard the three receptions he needed to move into fifth place on the Giants’ career list. That is the kind of human touch players appreciate. Daboll kept the team together and motivated late in a lost season. The goal going into 2024: Don’t start 2-8.

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