It would have been a cruel injustice had Jalen Reagor caught that last-gasp desperation pass at the goal line from Jalen Hurts, on a day when Freddie Kitchens calling the plays instead of Jason Garrett proved pointless on the scoreboard.
Daniel Jones & Co. couldn’t ever finish, couldn’t stomp them out in the fourth quarter, practically begged the Eagles to take the game, and if Reagor had caught the ball, even with Aaron Robinson contesting the catch, this would be another Same Old Broken Offense narrative.
But whenthe glass deserves to be half-full, if only for one day, and raising a toast to a defense that honored Michael Strahan on the
Patrick Graham & Co. deserved a better fate than an answered prayer from the horrendous Hurts, because for 59 minutes and 36 seconds, they had shown up as Stra’ Dogs.
“We wanted to go out there and dominate,” Xavier McKinney said.
They forced Hurts to use his arm as often as they could instead of his legs, and intercepted him three times, playing the second half without injured Adoree’ Jackson and Darnay Holmes and with the rookie Robinson and novice J. R. Reed instead, and Dexter Lawrence forced a fumble that Julian Love recovered.
“With a guy like Strahan being honored, we’re always big on the history of the organization. … When you get a guy breing honored like that, you don’t want to go out there and lay an egg,” Joe Judge said, “especially defensively, right?”
It was only two months ago when the Giants laid an egg against the Falcons on the day Eli Manning’s 10 was retired, and John Mara, who wisely sat quietly on the dais this time rather than subject himself to the boobirds with a speech,in the press box.
Giants fans were on their feet waving white towels when Hurts, 59 yards from victory, got the ball back with 1:11 and no timeouts left. Hurts and the Eagles had been gashing opponents with a relentless ground and pound. And they would run 33 times for 208 yards this time. But now Hurts (14-for-31, 129 yards) had to throw. “He’s very talented,” Love said, “but we wanted him to beat us throwing.“
Soon Hurts was 27 yards from victory, fourth-and-10, 24 seconds on the clock. He threw deep middle for Reagor … and time stood still.
“That was a heart-stopping play, that last one,” Love said, and chuckled. He was talking about Robinson when he added: “I think he just played through it, and he was applying pressure all game. Sometimes that accumulates. And so yeah, Reagor didn’t come down with that one at the end thankfully.”
Robinson was credited with a pass defensed. Sometimes it is better to be lucky and good.
“I was hoping that it was gonna be overthrown or tipped, but A-Rob made the play. … We played great defense, so just happy that they dropped it, but that’s what I saw,” Xavier McKinney said.
Hurts had made a fatal mistake at the end of the first half, after he had marched from his 7 to first-and-goal at the 2. On third down, with eight seconds remaining before intermission, he was chased by Azeez Ojulari as he rolled right, looked for running back Boston Scott, and was picked by Tae Crowder.
Big Blue should not have been asked to close the game out, but the state of the Giants’ offense, debilitated as it is largely by that embarrassment of an offensive line, demanded they make one last stand.
“Everyone was catching their breath, ’cause we knew we were gonna have to go out and finish it,” Love said.
Past history against the Eagles told him as much.
The state of the Giants’ offense could have told him everything else.
Jones & Co. went three-and-out and chewed up all of 23 seconds given the chance to go for the jugular. First down: Saquon Barkley for a lousy yard. Second down: Jones for a loss of a yard. Third down: Jones rolled left, when most of the time he rolls right, and lost 8 yards.
“They’re gonna use their last timeout right there, right?. Do we want to give ’em a freebie and then all of a sudden give ’em a drive with a timeout,” Judge said. “We had a lot of confidence in terms of how our defense is playing. … I thought it was big for us right there that if they’re gonna get the ball back, we’re gonna make ’em play rushed.”
Here’s a better idea: Don’t let them get the ball back.
Kitchens and Jones made more of an effort to target Kenny Golladay, and yet tight end Chris Myarick caught his first NFL pass for the lone TD pass. “Not every play was perfect,” Judge said.
Most were perfectly imperfect.
At least Jones played a turnover-free game.
“Obviously we want to make the players that played before us and built a foundation for us, we want to make them proud,” McKinney said.
Of course, 4-7 hasn’t made anyone proud.
“We will be back,” Strahan told the crowd. “We will be up again.”
They better show up Stra’ dogs every Sunday.
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