By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
This one will sting for a while. And it should.
The Giants’ devastating 22-21 loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia went from a potential season-changing victory to a character-testing defeat.
Their 97-yard drive for the go-ahead score was one of epic proportions that show they have the character and grit to be a contender in what is now the NFC Least.
We found out, though, that the Giants are not there yet. They are on the crest of the hill, but not over it.
The final two minutes proved to be a microcosm of their 1-6 season. Another Evan Engram key dropped pass, another Daniel Jones’ fumble and other missed coverages saw an apparent 21-10 triumph evaporate in the 4:38 of the game.
A bonehead personal foul on the kickoff, a pass interference flag, and a holding call helped the Eagles march down the field in the final two minutes. The Giants even got a break when the Eagles were penalized for a facemask that resulted in them being pushed back to the 18-yard line.
Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz, who wasn’t at his best and still found a way to torch the Giants for 359 yards laid out a perfect pass over a stumbling Jabrill Peppers for the gamewinner.
Jones’ fumble in the final seconds of a last-gasp drive again left the Giants breathless at the end.
It was the third last-second victory that slipped through their hands, those that could have easily made them a 3-4 team at this point and had them atop of the division.
Don’t worry. There are plenty of positives.
Despite their breakdowns, the defense continues to have an energized and organized look under Patrick Graham.
Despite his fumbles and interceptions, Jones appears more confident and driven every week, and his running ability adds another dimension to the offense. The mere fact that he scrambled for 80 yards negates his trip on his way to a score.
Wayne Gallman finally is beginning to prove why the Giants kept him around in the backfield, and Dion Lewis showed he has something left in the tank.
With Sterling Shepard back, the Giants have a viable passing corps with a revitalized Golden Tate — who made a nice over the shoulder catch for a score – and an enterprising Darius Slayton.
Rookie tackle Andrew Thomas is getting his true baptism under fire, but the overall play is progressing.
The true litmus test will come in 11 days when they return to host Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in a Monday nighter at Met Life. Will they be right there, or will they regress?
Chances are it will be the former, not the latter.
It’s frustrating, but it’s worth the wait.
It won’t be long.