In what was tipped to be a rebuilding season, the Giants exceeded all expectations and will next head into the playoffs. Before that, though, we had the small task of taking on the Eagles, who had everything to play for. Here are five things that stood out:
Was this the most entertaining loss to the Eagles ever? With the Giants firmly secured in the No. 6 spot in the playoffs, it made little sense to risk any of the starters, regardless of the fact that this was a divisional game. Due to the risks afforded to starting backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, it was decided that Davis Webb would be front and under center.
Webb, who first joined the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2017, re-joined the team as a third-string quarterback this offseason and was finally rewarded for his hard work and dedication to the league.
Admittedly, the first half didn’t go according to plan, with some ugly sequences, including the fake punt and reverse to Cager. The second half, on the other hand, was much better, with Webb scoring a rushing touchdown by running through the Eagles’ Reed Blankenship while also doing something Daniel Jones hasn’t done this year: passing a touchdown to Kenny Golladay.
The 75 Million Dollar Man
We might as well carry on where we left off with the last point and talk about Kenny Golladay. It’s no secret that his decline from reliable contested ball catcher to benchwarmer has been one of the few sour points this season, and due to a combination of a huge cap hit and lack of production, it’s very likely he will be let go in the offseason.
Golladay’s stats for the season prior to Sunday’s matchup were 198 snaps, 10 targets, four receptions, 51 yards, and no touchdowns, not exactly wide receiver one material. Let’s not beat around the bush Sunday’s game wasn’t exactly a breakout performance with a measly two catches on seven targets for 30 yards and a touchdown, but the touchdown itself was a look at what might have been. It’s likely this will be his one and only Giants touchdown, with the catch happening on the last offensive snap of the game and it being unlikely that his performance has threatened the trio of Slayton, James, and Hodgins.
Evan Neal’s Tough Season
It’s been a baptism of fire for the young rookie, and the season itself has likely been full of just as many high points as low points for him. With most of the starters being rested, that wasn’t the case for Neal, who played the entirety of the first half before being replaced by Matt Peart. Despite his limited action, it was unfortunately another rough outing as both Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham were able to get pressure on Davis Webb.
Neal, who missed four games due to an MCL sprain, finished the regular season with 738 snaps across 13 games. 453 of these snaps were in pass-blocking sets, with Neal giving up 22 hurries, 10 quarterback hits, and 7 sacks; that’s a total pressure rate of 8.6%, the highest among rookie tackles (minimum 400 snaps). Bear in mind, however, that we had similar issues with Andrew Thomas, who had a pressure rate of 9.3 in his rookie year, which was the worst in his draft class. Hopefully, Neal follows a similar trajectory.
Despite the 22-16 loss, there were plenty of plus points for the Giants’ defense, which contained the Eagles starters for most of the game, only giving up one touchdown and constantly forcing Philadelphia to settle for field goals. Here are a few defenders that stood out:
- Tomon Fox: Despite his stat sheet only showing four tackles (one for a loss) and three hurries, the undrafted free agent was a constant thorn in Jalen Hurts’ side.
- Micah McFadden: Impressive throughout the game and finished with seven tackles (one for a loss) and one sack.
- Dane Belton: A solid showing from the rookie safety, as he finished with six tackles, one pass breakup, and an end zone interception.
- Jarrad Davis: The veteran made his Giants debut and shone with 10 tackles (one for a loss), 1 quarterback hit, and a half-sack.
- Nick McCloud: The cornerback was one of a few recent starters that played, but instead he shone in the pass rush this week with five tackles (one for a loss), two quarterback hits, and one and a half sacks.
Minnesota It Is
For the second time this season, the Giants will travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings on Wildcard Weekend. The first game between the teams back in Week 16 was a tight affair that was decided by a franchise-record 61-yard field goal by Greg Joseph, but there is more riding on this game than just revenge.
The Giants have slowly been getting their injured players back, and after resting most of their starters against the Eagles, they should have not only a well-rested team but a strong one as both Xavier McKinney and Adoree Jackson, who missed the previous meeting, should be back. Adoree’s return will be especially critical as he will follow the regular season leader in both receiving yards and receptions, Justin Jefferson, who torched the Giants secondary for 133 yards in Week 16.