For Giants, Hope Departs Early and Boos Arrive Quickly in Loss to Eagles

For Giants, Hope Departs Early and Boos Arrive Quickly in Loss to Eagles


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Over the past few weeks, Giants Coach Pat Shurmur has tried to stress the distinction between urgency and panic. It was urgent to start winning, he insisted; panic had not yet set in.

But after a 34-13 disrobing by the rival Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night, alarm bells were ringing throughout the Meadowlands as the Giants failed to show any sign that a turnaround to their season was imminent, or even possible.

A calamitous week that involved the Giants repairing locker-room tension over critical comments by the star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. worsened after the Giants (1-5) fell into an 18-point hole in the first half.

With two seconds left before halftime, Beckham, targeted only four times in the first half, walked off the field early, into the locker room, and into yet another self-inflicted maelstrom.

He did not hear the fans booing the Giants off the field. But surely he could feel their frustration.

Presented an opportunity to reverse their sinking fortunes and send a message to the rest of the N.F.C. East, the Giants fell flat, pancaking against the Eagles, the defending Super Bowl champions, in a prime-time letdown.

“We didn’t do anything well enough to win,” Shurmur said. “It’s back to the drawing board.”

It was ugly from the beginning. The Giants’ opening drive ended when Eli Manning’s pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who returned it to the Giants 16. A 13-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Alshon Jeffrey put the Giants in the hole less than two minutes into the game.

On the next possession, a 46-yard run by Saquon Barkley — the first of several big plays from the rookie running back — got the Giants into the red zone. But in what would become a theme for the night, the drive sputtered on third down, as the Giants missed on their first eight conversion attempts.

Trailing, 14-3, in the second quarter, Manning attempted two straight screen passes that went for little gain followed by a checkdown pass to Barkley that did not come close to a first down. It was the type of conservative, uninspiring series that fans have quickly grown tired of, and they booed.

They booed the play-calling, which seemed devoid of creativity. They booed Manning, whose performance did little to help shed the image that, in his 15th season, his skill set has diminished beneath what is now required for the position.

And when the Giants’ defense blew its coverage of receiver Nelson Agholor on a third-and-3, letting him race 58 yards to set up another Philadelphia touchdown, the fans booed some more.

Manning, who completed 24 of 43 passes for 281 yards, averaged less than seven yards per pass attempt, favoring more screens and short passes. He completed just one pass of more than 12 yards in the air in the first half. He appeared unsettled in the pocket, which failed to protect him, and was sacked four times for 27 yards.

Barkley, with 130 yards rushing and 99 receiving, accounted for more than half of the Giants’ total yardage, breaking free for a 55-yard run after a screen pass in the second quarter that featured four missed tackles. Barkley, the second overall draft pick this year, has topped 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first six games.

He was the lone bright spot for the Giants’ offense. With its top two tight ends out with injuries, the team’s top receiver, aside from Barkley, was Cody Latimer with just 52 yards.

“We’re beating ourselves,” Barkley said. “We’re missing a lot of opportunities, playing behind the sticks, getting penalties.”

The Giants’ defense received a lift with the return of linebacker Olivier Vernon, a vital pass rushing threat who had missed the first five games with a high ankle sprain. Vernon was active in his first game back, putting pressure on Wentz early.

But once again, the harshest spotlight after the game was thrust onto Beckham. Before the game, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that the team had fined Beckham for his comments in an ESPN interview last week, in which he lamented the team’s effort and suggested the Giants might be better off with a new quarterback.

Beckham, who was made the N.F.L.’s highest-paid wide receiver with a five-year, $95 million extension before the season, asked to address his teammates before last Sunday’s game against Carolina, which the Giants lost on a late 63-yard field goal. He said afterward that he had never felt closer to his teammates in the locker room.

But on Thursday, he again invited scrutiny with his early first-half exit, though he said after the game that he had merely gone to the locker room early to get treatment for cramping.

“If I can use a couple extra seconds to go in there and get an IV, that’s really all that was,” he said.

The Giants now have 11 days before their next game to ponder the future. They have the same record as they did a year ago, when they finished with the league’s second draft pick. Though they selected a transcendent talent in Barkley, the decision not to draft a quarterback as the eventual heir to Manning could haunt this franchise for years to come.

At this rate, however, the Giants could have another opportunity to select from high atop the 2019 draft.



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