Over their past 30 games, the New York Giants have had more head coaches than they’ve had 30-point games.
Tom Coughlin’s finale was the last time the Giants hit 30 points, a 35-30 loss that wrapped up the 2015-16 season. The so-called offensive guru behind that game, Ben McAdoo, has since come and gone, while Steve Spagnuolo is overseeing the remnants of a woebegone year that likewise hasn’t featured any 30-points showings.
Sunday’s tilt against the Philadelphia Eagles displayed, for perhaps the first time all season, a complete 60-minute effort from the Giants’ scorers. Facing an Eagles team that some expect to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LII, the Giants scored a touchdown on their first possession for the first time in 16 games, and followed it up with another one on their second.
Quarterback Eli Manning tallied the ninth 400-yard game of his career, earning 434 on the day, while Sterling Shepard tied a career high with 11 catches. Tavarres King likewise had a career day, with both of his catches going for two scores.
Nonetheless, the story ended in a way Giants fans know all too well: falling short of 30 points and enduring another loss, as this one became a 34-29 Eagles win.
New York leadership, of course, was disappointed with yet another addition to the loss column, but did praise the strong offensive showing.
“I did think the offense came out and did a nice job,” interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said in his opening postgame statements. “I do believe that the fight of this football team was reflective out on the field. My comment to them was if that’s the best team in the NFC, which it might very well be, then we went out there and exchanged punches with the best and almost came away with a win.”
“I’m proud of the way the guys have been competing. There’s been no quit from the guys,” added quarterback Eli Manning. “They work hard, they practice hard. We’re being creative whether it’s the coaches or players coming up with ideas. Obviously, some are working, some aren’t, but we had some good stuff today.”
The Giants concluded the day with 504 yards of total offense, setting a new season high.
Manning was particularly proud of his young receiving group, which endured countless calamities this season. Elite catchers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall seem like distant memories, stuck on injured reserve since October, while Shepard has likewise dealt with health issues.
“I thought the receivers made some great plays today. Tavarres, (receiver) Roger Lewis, Sterling, and (tight end) Evan Engram have all played great. I thought we threw the ball well against a really great defense,” he said. “I’m proud of the way the guys have competed and have hung in there and kept working. They’re making some plays.”
Today’s efforts weren’t immune to accidents, as King, who scored the only Giants touchdown in last season’s playoff cameo in Green Bay, was taken out of the game after being evaluated for a concussion.
Though the Giants admirably kept things close to the very end, victory was not to be. Manning drove the Giants to the Philadelphia six-yard line, but a false start penalty pushed them back to the 11, where Manning’s potential game winning pass to Engram fell incomplete.
“That drive at the end was special,” Spagnuolo recalled. “We all were hoping for a memorable score and a memorable game and a lot of what could have been. But, a 2-11 team beating an 11-2 on the last play would have been special. It didn’t happen.”
With two games to go in this nightmare, the Giants are hoping this strong scoring effort will allow them to end the year on a high note.
“(Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan) has been doing a really good job,” Spagnuolo said. “Mike and Eli have been together for so long that when the game plan is fed and Eli bounces it back and forth, I see Eli coming up later in the evening suggesting plays. I think they’re working real well together and I felt comfortable with the game plan for the most part.”