The New York Giants Week 3 loss to the Eagles is the latest in a long history of frustrating defeats against Philadelphia. The Eagles are the one team the Giants simply have not been able to figure out over the past few decades. Since 2001, the Giants are 11-24 (including playoffs) against the Eagles and are 131-106 (including playoffs) against all other teams. Here is my ranking of the Giants’ six worst losses to the Eagles since 2001:
6. 2003 Week 7 at Giants Stadium
The Giants were coming off of a 10-6 season in 2002 and were on the verge of a 3-3 start to the 2003 season. They were up 10-7 with under two minutes to go in the game and were forced to punt. Jeff Feagles made a huge mistake and punted to Brian Westbrook, who scampered 84 yards down the left sideline for the game-winning touchdown. Why didn’t Feagles punt it out of bounds? Feagles was originally told to punt the ball out of bounds, but then-Giants head coach Jim Fassel supposedly told Feagles to punt it to Westbrook. The loss was one of many that could be blamed on Fassel and his incompetence when it came to special teams. The Giants finished 4-12 in 2003 and Fassel was fired at the end of the season.
5. 2006 Wild Card Playoff Game at Lincoln Financial Field
The Giants had a disappointing 8-8 season in 2006, but that record was somehow good enough for the Giants to earn the last Wild Card spot in the NFC playoffs. They had to go to Philadelphia for a game in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Eli Manning led the team to a game-tying drive with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Giants never got the ball back after that. Brian Westbrook converted on a series of third downs and David Akers made the game-winning field goal as time expired. This game was tough to watch at the time, but showed everyone how well Manning could play in the fourth quarter of a big game.
4. 2001 Week 16 at Veterans Stadium
Philadelphia had not won an NFC East title since 1988, and was a win away from clinching the division. The Giants came in needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. New York took its first lead of the game on a Ron Dayne touchdown run with 2:43 to go. The Eagles proceeded to march down the field for a game-tying score. The Giants offense could not move the ball and were forced to punt after three plays. The Eagles got the ball back and mounted a quick drive that resulted in a go-ahead field goal. The game appeared to be over as there were only a few seconds left on the clock. However, the Giants had a trick up their sleeve. They ran a play called “86 Lambuth Special” (or “76 Lambuth Special,” depending on the source). It was a hook-and-ladder play in which Tiki Barber caught a pass over the middle. He was going right and wide receiver Ron Dixon came around from right to left to receive the lateral. The play completely fooled the Eagles, and it looked like Dixon would race down the left sideline for a touchdown. Unfortunately for the Giants, Dixon was tackled at the four-yard line by Eagles defensive back Damon Moore. The loss signaled a changing of the guard atop the NFC East, as the Eagles had clinched their first of four straight division titles.
3. 2017 Week 3 at Lincoln Financial Field
This loss brought all of the Giants problems to the surface. The Eagles rushed for 193 yards in the game and held a 14-0 lead in the fourth quarter. The Giants stormed back to take the lead, only to have their defense fall apart. They surrendered two field goals in the final two minutes, including a 61-yard game-winner by Eagles rookie Jake Elliott as time expired. The field goal by Elliott was the longest field goal ever made in a game involving the Giants. Head coach Ben McAdoo made many questionable decisions in the game, and the Giants did not play well in key situations. The Giants probably weren’t going anywhere this season even if they had won this game, so this loss isn’t as bad as either of my top two choices.
2. 2010 Week 15 at MetLife Stadium
This entry on the list is sure to be the most controversial. Most Giants fans would say that this was the worst loss to the Eagles in the 21st century.
Everyone thought the game was over when Kevin Boss caught a touchdown pass with 8:17 to go in the game to put the Giants up by 21 points. Joe Buck pointed out that “Eli Manning has outplayed Michael Vick,” and fans at MetLife Stadium began to file out. Before the Giants knew what hit them, Eagles tight end Brent Celek waltzed into the end zone with a long touchdown catch. Then the Giants were unprepared on special teams and allowed the Eagles to recover an onside kick. The Eagles scored two more touchdowns to tie it, which set the stage for one of the most infamous plays in Giants history. Longsnapper Zak DeOssie picked the wrong time to have a bad snap. Punter Matt Dodge picked the wrong to punt the ball to the returner. And the rest of the Giants special teams picked the wrong time to lose contain and run past the returner. DeSean Jackson returned the punt for a touchdown on the game’s final play, sending the Giants to an embarrassing defeat.
This game is not number one on my list because the team used this loss as motivation and had many fourth-quarter comebacks the following season. In 2011, Eli Manning and the Giants found a way to win close games and won Super Bowl XLVI. I don’t think the Giants would have won the Super Bowl that year without being able to use this painful loss as motivation.
1. 2008 Divisional Playoff Game at Giants Stadium
The Giants were virtually unstoppable in the first three months of the 2008 season. They went 11-1 in their first 12 games and looked to be on their way to defending their Super Bowl title. Unfortunately, Plaxico Burress shot himself and the Giants only won one of their last four regular-season games. They still got the top seed in the NFC and had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Giants had the best rushing attack in the league that season, with Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward each rushing for over 1,000 yards.
On this day, virtually nothing went well for the Giants. They never reached the end zone in the game despite rushing for 138 yards. Kicker John Carney, who played pretty much the entire 2008 season for an injured Lawrence Tynes, missed field goals from 46 and 47 yards. Carney made the Pro Bowl that year and only missed three field goals in the entire regular season. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb had a passer rating of 58.0 and struggled for most of the afternoon, but they capitalized on the Giants’ miscues. The Eagles won 23-11, and that was the first time in NFL history a game was decided by that score.
The loss was the toughest one the Giants have had to the Eagles in the 21st century because the Giants had a great chance to do something that is rare: repeat as Super Bowl champions. This game was also the final playoff game ever played at Giants Stadium.
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