Giants’ season ends with lopsided NFL playoff loss to Eagles

PHILADELPHIA — There was plenty of beautiful noise from the Giants this season, but the end came with a dull thud.

The Giants on Saturday night were ushered out of the playoffs — rudely and decisively — to pull the curtain down on a season of rebirth and revitalization. The time will come soon enough to look back and assess the progress the franchise made in Brian Daboll’s first year as a coach, but for now, the sting of getting blown out by the rival Eagles 38-7 at raucous Lincoln Financial Field is the immediate irritation after a game that was never close.

The end of the road and elimination from the playoffs is never pleasant for any team and the Giants certainly believed they had what it takes to advance deeper and keep their season alive for at least one more week. That belief did not translate into action. In time, though, what the franchise gained in 2022 and into 2023 will resonate as an overwhelming success, given the expectations (meager) and the likelihood that they would put together a winning season and actually make it into the postseason for the first time since 2016.

Daniel Jones is sacked by the Eagles during the Giants playoff loss on Saturday.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Daboll used a personable and level-headed approach to keep the Giants humming and their 9-7-1 record was a quantum leap higher than even the most optimistic prognostications. The ascension of Daniel Jones into a franchise-type quarterback was stamped as near-official with his performance in a 31-24 first-round playoff victory over the Vikings. With Daboll, 47, showing he was more than ready for the job and Jones, 25, showing great improvement under Daboll’s tutelage, the Giants answered two of the most critical questions a franchise needs to know.

The Eagles were 14-3 and the No. 1 seed in the NFC and showed there is a sizable gap between them and the Giants. The Eagles beat the Giants three times this season, twice extremely decisively.

There was plenty of good that came out of the season but there was nothing good that came out of the way it ended. This was a mismatch. The Eagles led 14-0 after one quarter and 28-0 at halftime. The Giants were outgained 258-64 in the first half. The Eagles had 18 first downs, the Giants three. Eagles running back Miles Sanders in the first half had 75 rushing yards. Saquon Barkley had 7 yards. Jalen Hurts, showing no ill effects of the sprained shoulder that kept him out of two games late in the season, passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third before halftime. Jones in the first half completed only six passes, was sacked twice and threw an interception.

There are plenty of different ways to start out a game in a hostile environment and the Giants picked the worst option. They were dominated in the first quarter, down 14-0 after the Eagles encountered no resistance at all on a pair of easy scoring drives, and set themselves up for even more damage before the quarter expired.

Jalen Hurts celebrates a touchdown against the Giants on Saturday.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The Eagles got the ball first and sped 75 yards in eight plays, with Hurts finding tight end Dallas Goedert for 40 yards for the big blow. Goedert completed the drive with a 16-yard touchdown catch, as safety Xavier McKinney slipped in coverage.

Down 7-0, the Giants managed to pick up two first downs but came up empty when Daboll — as he is wont to do — rolled the dice. Jones was sacked by Haason Reddick on third down, setting up fourth-and-8 from the Eagles’ 40-yard line and pushing the Giants out of field-goal position. Daboll did not call for the punt team. Jones was sacked once again by Reddick — who had 16 sacks in the regular season — to set the Eagles up on their 48-yard line.

They did not waste the golden field position. Hurts gained 9 yards on a scramble and withstood a big hit from McKinney and then tossed a screen to DeVonta Smith, who eluded Nick McCloud for a 9-yard scoring hookup to make it 14-0.

Before the quarter was over, Jones looked over the middle for Darius Slayton but cornerback James Bradberry jumped the route and came away with an interception. Jones ended the season with an interception percentage of 1.1 percent — the lowest in the league — but Bradberry played for the Giants the past two years and he anticipated where Jones was going with the ball.

The turnover did not lead to points, but that did not do anything to alter the competitive imbalance. The Giants went three-and-out on offense and the Eagles did not. They took to the ground with running back Miles Sanders before Giants-killer Boston Scott ran it in from 3 yards out for a 21-0 Eagles lead.

It only got worse. Barkley lost 4 yards on a first-down run, leading to another three-and-out. Grinding for yards and churning through the Giants’ defense, the Eagles amassed 140 rushing yards in the first half and did the bulk of their work on a 12-play drive by keeping the ball on the ground. When Hurts ran in untouched from 5 yards out, it was 28-0 and Giants fans might as well have headed for the parking lots, turned on the ignitions and started driving north, for home.

The first points for the Giants came on a Wildcat handoff from Barkley to Matt Breida, who scored on an 8-yard run midway through the third quarter. Way too little, much too late.

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