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December 16, 2018

Leonard: Giants playoffs dreams are over following implosion to Eagles

November 25, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — The Giants imploded Sunday, and the dream of the impossible is over.

Eli Manning concluded a historically productive first half of Giant offense with a bad interception that took points off the board. Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley each sat out a drive in the third quarter. Philly’s previously invisible run game got going behind Josh Adams.




And Big Blue skidded through a dismal second half that saw the equally-desperate Eagles roar back, score 22 of the game’s final 25 points, and devastate the Giants, 25-22, on a 43-yard Jake Elliott field goal with 22 seconds to play to snap a tie game.

So no miracle playoff run is in the cards for the Giants (3-8), who had a two-game winning streak coming out of their Week 9 bye snapped.

Their sub-one percent postseason chances coming into Sunday’s game are now all but nil with their best possible finish being 8-8 with Dallas (6-5), Washington (6-5) and the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles (5-6) all well ahead in the NFC East. The Giants are 0-4 in the division.

Carson Wentz (l) and Eli Manning. (Chris Szagola / AP)

Manning’s offense put a whopping 346 yards and 19 points in Sunday’s first half on a banged-up Eagles defense missing its five top defensive backs. That was the most yards by any Giants team in any half since Dec. 8, 1985, against the Houston Oilers, per Elias Sports Bureau.

The Giants led 19-3 with 4:06 to play in the second quarter. And at the two-minute warning, Saquon Barkley had 127 total yards and two TDs to the Eagles’ 128 yards and three points as a team.

But Philly tacked on a Zach Ertz touchdown catch with 1:04 to play, and then with the Giants in field goal range with 17 seconds to play in the half, leading 19-11, Manning forced a ball downfield in Beckham’s direction that Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins intercepted.

It was the Eagles’ first interception since Week 6, the last time they faced Manning.

Beckham then did not return from the locker room until two full drives (one Eagles, one Giants) had occurred. The Giants said he was getting an I.V., the third time a Beckham absence around halftime this season has been blamed on dehydration (Week 1 vs. Jacksonville, Week 6 vs. Eagles, Sunday at Eagles).

Barkley then sat out the Giants’ second drive of the third quarter for unknown reasons, and the Giants’ offense gained -7 yards on 11 plays in the third quarter, snuffing out any optimism and momentum they’d built in the first.

Saquon Barkley.
Saquon Barkley. (Chris Szagola / AP)

Adams’ 1-yard TD run with 10:11 left in the third quarter, and the Eagles’ second two-point conversion of the game, gave the Eagles a 22-19 lead.

And then Aldrick Rosas’ third field goal of the game tied the game at 22-22 with 5:49 remaining. Pat Shurmur went for a two-point conversion on the Giants’ first TD drive of the game but it didn’t succeed, because Manning threw to a covered Eli Penny instead of a wide open Rhett Ellison. Otherwise, the Giants still would have been up one.

Then the defense couldn’t prevent the Eagles from draining the clock, as Doug Pederson’s team converted a fourth down to set up Elliott’s game-winner.

It was the second year in a row Elliott has crushed the Giants, after last year’s Week 3 61-yarder at the buzzer to send the Eagles to a championship and the Giants off the rails.

Differently but similarly on Sunday, Elliott dashed the Giants’ hopes for good.




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