All week long, the Giants were the center of the Plaxico Burress media hype and forced to part with their star receiver for the remainder of the season. When Sunday’s game was over, the Giants were also forced to part with their seven-game win streak, courtesy of a 20–14 loss at the hands of the Eagles.
To be honest, this was a hard game to watch. The Giants’ performance was full of missed tackles, dropped balls, and a lack of focus.
When asked whether or not the Plaxico Burress situation had anything to do with the Giants’ poor play, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin refused to tie the two together, “There is no excuse. I don’t think that had anything to do with it.”
Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce added, “Obviously everybody is going to use that as an excuse. It’s not an excuse. The Philadelphia Eagles came ready to play and they made more plays than the New York Giants today.”
There were some bright spots though. The Giants managed to block two field goals, one of them a 32-yard attempt by Eagles kicker David Akers that cornerback Kevin Dockery recovered and ran back for 71 yards and a touchdown just before halftime. Aside from that though, there was little to celebrate with regards to the Giants’ play-by-play.
On the opposing sideline, the Eagles did enough to win and played better when it mattered most—it wasn’t so much that they dominated play. At 11–1, few would have argued against the Giants being the superior team. But on this day, because the Giants played such uninspired football, the Eagles were superior, by default.
Closing out the first quarter, the Eagles would score first with a 51-yard field goal by Akers. They would also have a blocked field goal of their own, knocking down a 47-yard attempt by Giants kicker John Carney in the second quarter.
With just under two minutes remaining in the first half, Eagles running back Brian Westbrook added to their lead with a 30-yard run up in the middle, extending the score to 10–0.
Coming out in the second half, the G-Men failed to build on Dockery’s fiery touchdown and seemed just as flat as they did in the previous two quarters.
Coach Coughlin said, “I thought we got a real good shot in the arm right before the half with the blocked field goal and score, but we were not able to capitalize on it. We didn’t do anything with the ball in the third quarter. We didn’t make enough plays.”
The Eagles, underdogs in this game, were all too happy to take advantage of the Giants’ lack of execution.
After a scoreless third quarter, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb started the fourth quarter by passing to Brian Westbrook down the middle for a 40-yard touchdown, increasing their lead to 17–7. Minutes later, they would add to that score with a 34-yard field goal, making it 20–7.
Westbrook gashed the Giants, rushing for 131 yards, catching 6 passes for 72 yards, and scoring 2 touchdowns.
The Giants would eventually score a meaningless touchdown in garbage time—a pass from Manning to tight end Darcy Johnson—pulling within six at 20–14 with about 20 seconds remaining in the game.
With 13 receptions out of 27 passing attempts for 123 yards and 1 touchdown, Manning’s numbers were not great. But his numbers alone were not the reason why the Giants offense failed to produce. For the entire game, Manning had zero help from his supporting cast.
Manning added, “We didn’t play our best. They [the Eagles] were fired up and came ready to play and we didn’t play our best. Offensively we could hardly do anything right and they came out and played better than us.”
Make no mistake about it, the Eagles were far from perfect. If the Giants managed to put together one of their better performances, they could have won it. But Sunday’s loss was a testament to the fact that on any given Sunday anyone who wants it more, usually wins.
Overall, this was as poor a performance from the Giants as we’ve seen all year. To the observer, they played the majority of sixty minutes completely out of sync.
Coughlin commented, “Obviously disappointed that not only we lost the game, we didn’t play very well. We have no excuses. We got beat on the field.”
One thing is certain, if the Giants don’t drastically change their game plan next week and put up a better effort, the Dallas Cowboys could embarrass them in front of their home crowd on national TV next Sunday.