With 10 touchdown passes and two interceptions through five games entering Monday night’s clash with the Eagles, the 2015 campaign of Eli Manning was going more smoothly that even the most optimistic Giants fans expected. However, the Eli-for-MVP bandwagon hit a road bump last night in Philadelphia, as the veteran quarterback threw a pair of interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, in New York’s disappointing 24-7 defeat.
The evening started out smoothly enough for Manning, as he led the Giants down the field for a touchdown on their first possession of the game. When Odell Beckham Jr. caught a pass in the middle of the field and lunged into the end zone for a 13-yard score, it looked like New York was on its way to another fine performance on offense.
The Eagles stepped up their game, though.
Manning first interception came on the next Giants possession and can hardly be considered the quarterback’s fault. He threw a short pass to Larry Donnell that appeared to be hauled in by the tight end. However, Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans ripped the ball from Donnell’s grasp to put an immediate end to what appeared to be another Giants scoring drive.
Two offensive possessions later, after the Eagles had struck back to tie the game a 7-7, Manning made his most crucial mistake of the game when his 2nd-and-9 pass attempt was picked off by Philadelphia’s Nolan Carroll II and returned to the end zone to give the Eagles their first lead of the game. Although Manning correctly read man coverage on the play, he didn’t see Carroll switch off his assigned receiver and turn his focus towards the quarterback until it was too late.
Opposing quarterback Sam Bradford would give the Giants plenty of chances to respond due to some puzzling passes that resulted in three interceptions, but New York was unable to take advantage due to breakdowns in pass protection. Throughout the second half, Manning found himself under pressure and unable to find an open receiver downfield. The Eagles only sacked the quarterback three times, but on other occasions Manning was forced to throw the ball away or take an intentional grounding penalty.
After falling to the Eagles on Monday night, the Giants have a rematch with Dallas to look forward to this Sunday. In order for Big Blue to get revenge for its season-opening defeat at the hands of the Cowboys, the team must find more run-pass balance or at least make Manning more comfortable in the pocket. Dropping another game to Dallas when the Cowboys are still without top quarterback Tony Romo and top wide receiver Dez Bryant would be a tough pill to swallow.