By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants finished off a disappointing season with a 34-26 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at home Sunday afternoon. The Giants may have found a star in Odell Beckham Jr. and discovered that Eli Manning still has a lot left in the tank at quarterback, but the fact remains Big Blue couldn't beat a good team this season.
So, while the future is indeed brighter than it was at midseason, the Giants have a lot of work to do this offseason of rebuilding a winner. Coach Tom Coughlin will return next season, but there could be changes with his staff, including defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who is on the hot seat.
Here are the players that deserve Game Balls for their performances against Philadelphia, and those that are given Game Falls in the loss.
Odell Beckham Jr.: His trophy case of Game Balls from us is overflowing by now. Beckham Jr. caught 12 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles. He was targeted a whopping 21 times by Eli Manning. Beckham Jr. caught a 62-yard touchdown pass, continuing his impressive stretch to the end of the season. He should be rookie of the year. The sky is the limit for him next season.
Rueben Randle: Nobody improved his stock at the end of this season than Randle. He continued his resurgence by catching six passes for 158 yards Sunday. He had a 43-yard grab and averaged 26.3 yards per catch. Just a month ago Randle was on his way out. Now, the Giants could have a dynamic threesome at wide receiver with Victor Cruz as the third.
Jason Pierre-Paul: He made his own case to return on a big-money contract with the Giants by ending the season with another two sacks. Pierre-Paul collected nine sacks over the last five games of the season, picking up at least one sack in each. He had just 3.5 sacks over his first 11 games. Pierre-Paul's future is one of the biggest decisions the Giants have to make this offseason.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez picked apart the Giants secondary, led by Rodgers-Cromartie, to the tune of 292 yards and two touchdowns. Sanchez many times found wide open receivers in the passing game. Rodgers-Cromartie had just two tackles and didn't record a pass defensed, even with Sanchez throwing it 36 times. The Giants suffered a lot of injuries in the secondary, but they still didn't play well before players started going down.
Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings: The Giants don't win when they don't run the football, so as much as it's been great watching Beckham Jr. and Randle put up a ton of yards through the air, the wins and losses come from how well Williams and Jennings (when he's not injured) run the ball. Sunday against Philadelphia, Williams and Jennings did not get the job done. Williams had 15 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. Jennings had just 10 carries for 33 yards. As a team, the Giants tallied 76 rushing yards. The Eagles rushed for 164.
Eli Manning: It's hard to fault him for throwing for 429 yards, but Manning had the ball in his hands with the chance to tie the game late, but threw an interception that sealed a 6-10 season. With about three minutes to go and trailing by eight, Manning threw deep to Randle that was picked off. With plenty of time and it being just second down, it was a bad decision by Manning and ruined the Giants comeback bid.
Perry Fewell: The Giants defensive coordinator might be the fall guy for how this season played out, and certainly most fans want him to be replaced. Fewell didn't do himself any favors with this final performance against a Philadelphia team that had nothing to play for. Sanchez passed for nearly 300 yards and the Eagles had 164 rushing yards, averaging more than five yards per carry. The Giants did record four sacks and an interception, but the end result was 34 points and a loss.