Big Blue it

The Giants are running out of ways to lose. The script this time: dominate the Eagles in a must-have contest, then watch in horror as Brian Westbrook returns a punt 84 yards for a TD with 1:16 to play. The result: a 14-10 Philadelphia victory in front of 78,883 fans at Giants Stadium. <BR><BR>

While it might be presumptuous to say a defeat that dropped New York to 2-4 will be impossible to recover from, it's also not all that far-fetched.

"It would be an understatement if I told you that I can't believe what happened to us," Jim Fassel said. "It seems we find a different way (to lose) every time."

This time it was because punter Jeff Feagles, who's easily been New York's best, most consistent player this year, was unable to punt the ball out of bounds. Once the dangerous Westbrook got his hands on the ball, it was already too late.

"We should be able to cover a punt," Fassel said. "You have to cover the damn thing and tackle the guy."

No one could. David Tyree had the first chance to stop Westbrook, who fielded the bouncing punt at the hash mark closest to the Giants sideline. Tyree claimed that he was blocked in the back by Eagles LB Ike Reese. Westbrook then made Feagles look silly before racing toward paydirt. Marcellus Rivers had the last chance to save the TD, the game and possibly the season, but he couldn't get enough of Westbrook at the Giants 40-yard line to slow him down.

"I tried to get it out of bounds," Feagles said. "I didn't execute what I tried to do. I couldn't believe it. I was looking around for a flag. He got around the corner and I looked down the sideline and there he went."

Perhaps taking the Giants' season with him.

New York was dominant in all phases of the game, topping the Eagles in yardage (339-134), first downs (25-9) and time of possession (35:42-24:18). In the second half, New York limited Philly to a mere 23 yards and one first down.

"All of our performance today that might have been in our favor doesn't really mean anything because we didn't win," CB Will Allen said.

From the moral victory department, New York at least drew a draw in the turnover department, as each club lost the ball twice. But both of New York's TOs were costly, coming inside Philadelphia's red zone.

"We need to make a play when we are down in the red zone," LT Luke Petitgout said. "We turned the ball over again when we needed to walk away with some points."

With CB Will Peterson out of action due to a back injury, Ralph Brown stepped into the starting lineup. Things didn't start out too well for Brown. He was penalized 41 yards for a blatant pass interference on Eagles WR Todd Pinkston, who had run right by him. Then Brown missed the tackle on Westbrook's 6-yard TD run that opened the scoring.

The Giants cut into Philly's lead shortly before halftime when they converted a Will Allen INT into a 39-yard Brett Conway field goal.

New York grabbed the lead for the first time when TE Jeremy Shockey, who had earlier fumbled deep in Philly territory and dropped an easy pass, caught a 1-yard TD with 5:19 to play in the third quarter. That capped a 12-play, 62-yard drive that was keyed by QB Kerry Collins' 11-yard scramble to convert a third-and-10.

That was only the second touchdown in 40 offensive possessions for Big Blue.

In the fourth quarter, the Giants blew a golden opportunity to put the Eagles away. New York marched 58 yards and chewed up more than five minutes of the clock, but couldn't capitalize on the scoreboard. With 7:50 to play and the Giants at the Eagles 5-yard line, Philadelphia LB Mark Simoneau slapped the ball away from Collins and Eagles DT Corey Simon recovered.

"We didn't put them away when we had the chance," Barber said.

"I don't know if we put our guard down," Petitgout said. "But they made the ultimate plays when they had to. We made a couple of plays but didn't make them when it counted."

Nope. When it counted, it was the Eagles, who received absolutely nothing from struggling QB Donovan McNabb, that stepped to the forefront.

"They played better than us when they needed to," Barber said. "That's all that matters."

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