Stat worth noting: The Giants were awful on third and fourth down. Big Blue converted only three of its 13 third-down tries and only one of three fourth-down opportunities.
Stat worth noting II: Brian Westbrook only had 46 total yards. Apparently shutting down Westbrook wasn't enough in this one.
Turning point: No one has been more consistent all season long than defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. However, Spags might have been a little too aggressive even for his own good early in the third quarter. With the Eagles facing a third-and-20 from their own 15, Spagnuolo sent multiple defenders. That opened up the middle of the field for Donovan McNabb to connect with Jason Avant for a backbreaking 21-yard gain and first down. The Eagles later converted a third-and-10 as they marched to a David Akers field goal that gave the Eagles a 13-11 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Play to remember: With the Birds leading, 10-8, Philly had the ball to start the second half. That's when Giants LB Chase Blackburn tipped a Donovan McNabb pass that DT Fred Robbins swiped right out of the air and returned 17 yards to the Eagles 33-yard line. The generously-listed 317-pound Robbins built up a nice head of steam before being tripped up by Eagles WR Kevin Curtis. That superb defensive play led to a John Carney field goal that gave New York an 11-10 lead.
Play to forget: On the first play of their second offensive drive, Eli Manning dropped back and badly overthrew Domenik Hixon. Not surprisingly, Eagles CB Asante Samuel was right there to make the pick at the Giants 27. Samuel returned the ball all the way to the Giants 2, where Donovan McNabb scored on a QB sneak to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead three plays later.
What went right
New York's defense can't be blamed for this one. They held the dangerous Eagles to 276 total yards and forced two turnovers. Philadelphia averaged only 4.1 yards per play, but with the Giants offense unable to reach the end zone, the defense would have needed to practically pitch a shutout to win this one.
Early in the second quarter, Justin Tuck and Barry Cofield combined to force Donovan McNabb into an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone, which resulted in a safety and two points for Big Blue. New York's front four got right to McNabb, who dumped the ball off in the right flat although there was no receiver within sight.
New York was able to jump out to a 3-0 lead on its first drive of the game thanks to a 65-yard kickoff return by Ahmad Bradshaw, who burst up the right sideline, and a fourth-and-two conversion by Brandon Jacobs, who gained three yards to move the ball to the Eagles 24-yard line.
Eli Manning's third-quarter pass to Domenik Hixon was a thing of beauty. Facing a third-and-five, Manning uncorked his best pass of the day to Hixon, who had a half-step on Joselio Hanson, for a 34-yard gain.
What went wrong
Two consecutive plays early in the fourth quarter really did the Giants in. On third down, Derrick Ward was stopped just short of the first-down marker at the Giants 44. Tom Coughlin challenged the spot, but video review upheld the original decision. Coughlin opted to go for it on fourth down and surprisingly called for an Eli Manning QB sneak. He was stuffed before he even reached the line of scrimmage.
Things got worse on the next drive when Ward was stopped short of the marker on third down on a miserably failed direct snap. Then Jacobs was stuffed on fourth down and the Giants were all but officially dead with 6:28 to play.
The Eagles put together a 10-play, 63-yard drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters and extended their lead to nine points. The drive was aided by a 15-yard facemask call on Antonio Pierce.
John Carney missed only his second and third non-blocked field goals of the entire season. Carney pushed a 46-yarder slightly wide right late in the second quarter and later missed a 47-yarder wide left in the third quarter.
0 – Number of top seeds to advance as both the Giants and Titans dropped their first playoff games at home
4 – Number of losses for Big Blue in its final five games
23-11 – This was the first 23-11 game in NFL history
"I think we are very disappointed. Very, very sorry to see the season come to an end. Lots of remorse for opportunities lost." – Giants coach Tom Coughlin
Game Story: Giants 11, Eagles 23
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