With their backs squarely against the proverbial wall, and their entire season on the line, all the Giants could come up with was an embarrassing 28-10 loss to the Eagles (7-3), who jumped three games ahead of Big Blue (4-6) in the NFC East standings in front of 67,867 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
"All losses are disappointing, but this one hurts," Jim Fassel said. "On offense and basically on defense we didn't make plays when we had opportunities."
"I look at this ballgame and I look at it as another case of missed opportunities," QB Kerry Collins said.
The Giants were far inferior to their hated division rivals in all three phases of the game – and, for those scoring at home, they were out-coached and less prepared as well.
The offense couldn't get anything going, and the special teams were lacking as usual. But the most surprising part of this blowout was how small the Giants defense came up. There were gaping holes in the defense all afternoon long. The pass rush was nonexistent, further drawing attention to the fact that no one in New York's secondary could cover anyone. The result was an effortless 314-yard game by Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, who completed 24-of-30 passes and fired for two TDs.
"I think Donovan's playing with a lot of confidence," Fassel said.
The run defense, once again, wasn't up to snuff, as Eagles RB Brian Westbrook averaged more than five yards a pop on nine carries. McNabb also victimized the open middle of the Giants vulnerable defense on multiple occasions, dumping short passes off that turned into long gains. All told, the Birds averaged a gaudy 7.4 yards per play.
The missed chances started really early for New York. Eagles WR Sean Morey couldn't handle Matt Bryant's opening kickoff and Giants TE Darnell Dinkins, fresh off the practice squad, recovered the free ball at the Eagles 22-yard line. However, a 15-yard penalty for a crack-back block on TE Marcellus Rivers, starting for injured Jeremy Shockey, and WR Tim Carter being stopped just short of the marker on third down forced the Giants to settle for a 30-yard Bryant FG.
"No offense wants just a field goal in that position," Dinkins said. "A touchdown definitely would have helped."
"I thought points would be critical," Fassel explained of his decision to kick the FG. "It didn't end up that way. I wanted to get the points on the board, especially on the road."
The Eagles offense clicked into gear not long after.
Philly moved 61 yards in nine plays and grabbed a 7-3 lead when RB Correll Buckhalter jumped over from one yard out. McNabb completed all four of his passes on the drive for 49 yards.
New York's defensive woes continued as LB Dhani Jones badly missed a tackle on Buckhalter, who gained 27 yards as a result.
The Giant errors didn't stop there. After making a brilliant special teams play by catching and downing Jeff Feagles' punt at the 2-yard line, reserve RB Delvin Joyce hurt New York big-time on New York's next punt. He blasted Eagles punt returner Brian Westbrook before the ball arrived, giving the Birds the ball at their 27 instead of the 12.
Philly wasted no time extending to a 14-3 lead. McNabb moved the Eagles 73 yards in only three plays, scoring when Westbrook got behind SS Shaun Williams for a 29-yard TD. Williams was caught in no man's land on the previous play, when McNabb rolled out right and hit RB Duce Staley for a 38-yard catch-and-run.
The Giants threatened late in the first half, following a 48-yard grab by rookie David Tyree, but they were turned away once again.
RB Tiki Barber's run got Big Blue down to the Eagles 1-yard line. They had four plays and still couldn't get in, with Barber being dropped for a two-yard loss on fourth down.
The third quarter was more of the same. The Giants couldn't get anything going offensively and the Eagles marched at will through what appeared to be an indifferent New York defense. The Birds moved 95 yards in eight plays, using a comical 37-yard catch by Freddie Mitchell, in which the Eagles receiver was wide open in the middle of the field. Westbrook capped it with a 4-yard TD run with 3:21 to play in the third quarter.
"We're just not making plays, we haven't made plays the last couple weeks," Michael Strahan said.
Barber's 10-yard TD catch on third down midway through the fourth quarter wasn't nearly enough to keep New York's season alive.
"We better right the ship pretty quick," Collins said. "But we are still not out of it. And we need to keep that in mind. But we need to start playing better football. That's just the bottom line. We're not playing the way we're supposed to…we're not playing football. And we need to find a way to do it."
It's most likely already too late.
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