By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants didn't just lose an important divisional game to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night, they lost one of their team leaders as well. Victor Cruz tore his patellar tendon in the third quarter and will end up missing the rest of the season. Cruz was in obvious excoriating pain after the fourth-down play fell incomplete in the end zone, grasping his knee on the field and later crying on his way out of the stadium on the cart.
The play, which came with the score 20-0, seemingly took the fight out of the Giants, as the Eagles went on to win 27-0 to keep pace with the Dallas Cowboys, who won at Seattle earlier, for first place in the NFC East. The Giants dropped to 3-3 with the loss and fall two games back of the two division leaders. They'll have to continue on without one of their best players.
The season takes on a new turn for the Giants now, as they have to bounce back after watching their three-game winning streak come to an end in a horrific way. The Cruz injury is one thing, but the Giants were beat in every way possible by the Eagles Sunday. The Giants couldn't run the ball, had no passing game, couldn't stop the run on defense or get pressure on Nick Foles. Nothing went right and the result was a shutout loss and a wake-up call for the team.
Things don't get any easier for the Giants after leaving Philadelphia, as they have to travel to the Cowboys for a late Sunday afternoon game next week.
Here's a look at our keys to a Giants victory against the Eagles and how it actually played out on the field. Spoiler alert: It's not pretty.
Andre The Giant
Why It Was Key: It's no secret the moment the Giants started playing better this season, in Week 3, was when they were able to control the game on the ground. With Rashad Jennings out this week with an injury, it's up to Andre Williams to pick up the slack, If Williams does that, the Giants will be that much closer to a road win. If Williams plays poorly, the Giants will be in deep trouble.
How It Played Out: Williams didn't play poorly Sunday, rushing 16 times for 58 yards, but he had no impact on the game, much like the rest of the Giants offense. As a team, the Giants rushed for 85 yards on 23 carries, nowhere near good enough to win this game on the road. The offensive line reverted back to when they couldn't block anybody at the line of scrimmage, struggling all night long and losing the battle at the point of attack. The Giants' three-game win streak was built on the power of the running game, but they had no chance to even attempt a rushing attack against the Eagles in the second half, with the Eagles up 20-0 at the break. The Giants needed to establish a ground game to beat Philadelphia on the road, and it didn't happen.
Keep Foles Under Pressure
Why It Was Key: "If Foles is able to sit in the pocket and find open receivers, the Eagles win. If the Giants put the pressure on Foles, and force him into quick decisions, the defensive backs could make a couple of big plays that could change the game completely. Pressure and take down Foles and the Giants should be in position to win."
How It Played Out: The Giants got zero pass rush on Foles, hitting him just once in the entire game, on a sack by Damontre Moore. That was it. Jason Pierre-Paul didn't get near the Eagles quarterback, being held in check by tackle Jason Peters. Foles had all day to throw and ended up completing 21-of-34 passes for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Most of the damage was done in the first half, when the Eagles raced out to a 20-0 lead. Foles didn't have to do much, however, because the running game took control from start to finish. Not surprising by the final score, nothing went right for the Giants tonight.
Slow Down 'Shady'
Why It Was Key: "Opposing teams have found success on the ground against the Giants this season, and if that continues against the Eagles, Big Blue will head home feeling blue. If LeSean McCoy goes off for a big game Sunday night, the Giants won't have a chance. Slow him down, and keep Darren Sproles in check, and the Giants could be tied for first place at the end of the night."
How It Played Out: McCoy had his coming out party this season against the Giants, rushing 22 times for 149 yards. McCoy had just 273 yards in the first five games. Sproles had seven carries for 39 yards and a touchdown. Overall, the Eagles rushed for 203 yards and the score, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. So, no, the Giants couldn't slow down McCoy or Sproles or anybody else for that matter. The Eagles won the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and now the Giants are left to pick up the pieces after a terrible primetime loss.