In what might have been his last meaningful decision as head coach of the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin decided to kick a 48-yard field goal rather than go for it on 4th and 7 with 4:30 remaining in the 4th quarter. The decision to rely on the defense to stop the Philadelphia Eagles was booed by Giants fans at MetLife Stadium. They have seen all season long what happens when the game is on the line and it’s up to the defense to make a stop.
Coughlin’s call payed off however and Eli Manning got the ball back with just under two minutes for a shot to end the season, and possible Coughlin’s twelve-year tenure as head coach, with a win. Unfortunately, Manning couldn’t come up with a miracle drive and the Giants add another one-possession loss to the books for 2016.
The Giants had their moments throughout the game, especially on offense. Rashad Jennings had a tremendous day rushing the ball with 170 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Jennings has finally hit his stride rushing for 100+ yards in two of the final three games of the season. Today’s performance just served as a reminder of what might have been had the Giants abandoned their four-man rotation at running back.
Will Tye showed his potential as a receiving threat with five grabs and a touchdown. Shane Vereen also showed how dangerous a mismatch he can be out of the backfield with six catches for 72 yards. Vereen is yet another weapon in the Giants’ offense that was abandoned for games at a time throughout the season.
However, one big mistake doomed an impressive offensive performance for the Giants. Eli Manning had the ball tipped from his hands in the redzone and was intercepted to stall a would-be scoring drive. Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin blew by Ereck Flowers to get his hand on a ball that was returned 83 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles the lead.
One gigantic mistake proved too costly for the Giants especially with the defense they put on the field in Week 17. All three starting linebackers to start the season are currently on injured reserve. Only two safeties were healthy enough to dress for the Giants; only struggling rookie Landon Collins was healthy enough to finish.
The Eagles exploited the lack of depth up the middle all day. On the first drive of the game, DeMarco Murray had a 54-yard touchdown run right up the gut to put the Giants in an early hole. Tight end Zach Ertz finished with 9 receptions for 152 yards while being covered by second-string defenders for most of the afternoon.
The Giants finished 6-10 for the second straight season in an awful NFC East. The loss means they will travel to London in October to face the St. Louis Rams rather than play an away game in Seattle against the Seahawks. The Giants may have caught a break there. This loss also guarantees the Giants will have a top-10 pick in the draft in April.