Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid, left, and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin shake hands at the end of an NFL game Sunday in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 19-17.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he needed only to look into the eyes of his players to understand the hurt stemming from a 19-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night that left the defending Super Bowl champions 0-2 in the NFC East for the first time since 1996.
“Very, very difficult loss for our team and, to be quite honest with you, especially in light of the fact that a year ago we had so many come-from-behind type finishes that went the other way,” Coughlin said Monday.
Seven times last year, and once already in this 2-2 season, quarterback Eli Manning rallied his team from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie to win. He has pulled out 21 such victories during his nine-year career. More magic appeared to be at hand when he took the Giants from their 35 to Philadelphia’s 27, where they began a new set of downs with 49 seconds left. They had no timeouts remaining.
According to Manning, the goal in practice in that circumstance would be to extend the drive at least to the 17 to give Lawrence Tynes a comfortable field-goal attempt. Tynes had never converted a try longer than 53 yards. The Giants instead showed how perilous a high-wire act can be in the waning minutes, no matter how many times it was successfully performed before.
After Ahmad Bradshaw smashed off left tackle for 1 yard and the clock ticked down to 25 seconds, what followed had wide receiver Ramses Barden, Manning and Coughlin all questioning their actions. Manning threw deep down the right side to Barden, who started in place of the injured Hakeem Nicks.
Barden said the play went poorly because he failed to get a good release against physical cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. “Maybe I could have done something different at the line of scrimmage,” he said.
By the time he turned for the ball, Barden realized Asomugha was in better position to catch it than he was. Barden was whistled for a 10-yard penalty for offensive pass interference. “He can’t come down with the ball,” Barden said. “I’m not ashamed of that at all.”
Manning thought he could have given Barden a better angle. “I probably should have thrown it to his back shoulder so Ramses doesn’t feel the defense has a chance to intercept that ball,” he said.
While Coughlin anticipated that the Eagles would be determined to deny a short pass to either sideline, he noted that he never tested that. As for calling a running play that might have gotten Tynes closer and centered the kick, the coach said, “There are no guarantees that a 44- or 46-yard field goal is going to be easily handled.”
Tynes had made his last 12 field-goal attempts, dating to last season. The certainty is that, after an incomplete pass to Domenik Hixon, the penalty ultimately caused Tynes to fall 2 or 3 yards short on what became a 54-yard kick.
The Giants’ eighth loss in their last nine games against perhaps their most formidable division rival — the Eagles improved to 3-1 — left them with other critical issues to address before they play at home against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. In their two defeats, they failed to score a first-half touchdown. They lacked offensive balance after 19 rushes netted only 57 yards while Philadelphia amassed 191 rushing yards.
But Bradshaw said almost defiantly: “I’m not concerned about anything. We believe in each other. We’ve been down this road before. We played a great game. We just didn’t finish.”
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