By Paul Dottino
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A total collapse would have been tough enough for the Giants to swallow. But to do so against a division rival, and lose WR Victor Cruz for the season with a torn patellar tendon on top of it?
The Giants’ humbling 27-0 loss in Philadelphia has, for the moment, created a sea of black clouds over the season. It seemed as though the team came up empty on almost every one of its goals for the game, other than perhaps winning the turnover battle. (The defense had two interceptions and the offense lost a fumble.)
Oh wait! They kept the Eagles out of the end zone on special teams …
Let’s go over the recipe for disaster, and this is sure to result in defeat against any team. Eli Manning endured six sacks, the Giants were penalized 10 times, the running game was held to 85 yards while the Eagles ran for 203 and Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles was sacked just once.
So the Giants’ three-game winning streak ended with them being routed in a shutout for the fourth time since December 2012 (Atlanta, Carolina, Seattle, Philadelphia). And they’ve got a trip to Dallas on tap, with the Cowboys coming off a road upset over Seattle.
Offense: WR Victor Cruz — Cruz suffered a torn right patellar tendon while trying to reach for a fourth-down pass in the back right corner of the end zone with 9:35 left in the third quarter and the Giants trailing, 20-0. Perhaps a score would have turned the game around. Perhaps it wouldn’t have.
But Cruz gave his all on the play. He beat Brandon Boykin and was untouched when his knee gave out as he was leaping for the ball. The injury emotionally suffocated the Giants’ chances of coming back.
Defense: CB Zack Bowman — Bowman momentarily injected life back into the Giants with an interception on the Eagles’ first drive of the second half. The Giants were down, 20-0, and went three-and-out. Then Bowman jumped into a right sideline pass intended for Jordan Matthews that was thrown by a rolling Nick Foles. He returned it 18 yards to the Philadelphia 21.
But the Giants’ ensuing drive saw them lose a TD (more on that below) and Cruz.
Special Teams: TE Larry Donnell — Midway through the second quarter, he made what likely would have been a touchdown-saving tackle on PR Darren Sproles’ 43-yard punt return up the middle.
Earlier, Bowman made two strong tackles on Sproles for returns of 0 and 6 yards.
Offense: RT Justin Pugh — He was the culprit on three sacks over the Giants’ 10 offensive snaps in the first quarter, and another on the second snap of the second period. Pugh admitted his failures right after the game.
“I started off the day in a bad way, and I let one play affect the next play,” he said. “Really, it was probably the worst game I’ve ever played, hands down. Not even close.”
He was turned, spun and pushed every which way. It should be noted that LT Will Beatty was flagged for holding in the third quarter, nullifying Donnell’s tipped TD catch on the drive that ended with Cruz’s injury.
Defense: All of them — The Eagles operated as if this was a scrimmage. Even LeSean McCoy, who came into the came averaging 2.9 yards per carry behind a shuffled offensive line, riddled the Giants for his first 100-yard day of the season: 149 yards on 22 carries.
Foles had plenty of time to throw, and he consistently beat the blitz by finding wide-open targets in short and intermediate routes throughout the game.
Special Teams: RB Peyton Hillis — Late in the first half, it appeared that he allowed Chris Maragos to come free around the right side of the line to deflect Steve Weatherford’s punt. Just before the snap, Maragos slid over to the left edge of the defense.
Giants LB Mark Herzlich pointed him out and bumped him before heading downfield. Maragos bounced off Herzlich while Hillis (playing the right wing behind Herzlich) headed downfield, allowing his opponent a clean path to the punter.
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