The Giants are in no position to rank any victories. They are all precious gems to them because they are all so rare.
And so, another offensively challenged and unsightly performance showed Jason Garrett was far from the only problem with this mess of an attack. The production, or lack thereof, was worthy of another loss but the Giants were saved by their defense, which rose up on a day Michael Strahan’s No. 92 was retired.
That defense intercepted three passes thrown by Jalen Hurts, forced four turnovers and came up with the stops it needed to secure a 13-7 victory over the Eagles at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, an improbable result for both these teams.
The Giants (4-7) stopped the bleeding after their brutal loss in Tampa. The Eagles (5-7) saw their two-game winning streak ended after a sloppy showing, turning the ball over four times.
Graham Gano’s 39-yard field goal put the Giants up by six points with 2:54 remaining. The Eagles quickly mounted a threat. From midfield, Boston Scott ran for 4 yards before defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence poked the ball loose. Safety Julian Love recovered the fumble with 1:34 to play.
The Giants, though, were so conservative on offense on this gift possession that they lost 8 yards on three plays. Their only accomplishment was forcing the Eagles to use all three of their time outs.
Another defensive stand was needed. The Eagles reached the Giants’ 27-yard line but that is where the last-ditch drive ended, with Hurts’ fourth-down pass to Jalen Reagor knocked away by rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson at the goal line with 15 seconds left.
The change of play-callers, with the firing of Garrett last Tuesday, did nothing to get the Giants into the end zone with any more frequency. They got into the end zone only one time and their paltry point total with Freddie Kitchens serving as the interim offensive coordinator.
Hurts came into the game having thrown only five interceptions but the Giants picked him off three times. They did not score any points off these three turnovers, as they missed a field goal, the first half expired and they went three-and-out. After the third interception, this one by Xavier McKinney, the Giants got the ball on their own 46-yard line, leading 10-0. The first play called by Kitchens was a reverse to Darius Slayton that lost 13 yards when defensive end Derek Barnett tripped him up.
The Giants were up 10-0 and Hurts nearly got intercepted for a fourth time when the Eagles decided enough was enough. They ran the ball the next nine plays — Hurts picked up 38 yards on three scrambles — and finally got their first points on Scott’s 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The white towels were waving and the fans were on their feet and cheering as the Giants raced off the field at halftime, keeping the Eagles off the board with a defensive stand worthy of Strahan, whose number was retired in a rousing ceremony.
The stand started after the Eagles reached the 2-yard line, first and goal, poised to take the lead. It did not happen. On first down, Hurts threw incomplete. On second down, Hurts was stopped by Lorenzo Carter and Xavier McKinney for one yard. On third down, with eight seconds remaining and the Eagles out of time outs, Hurts was pressured and forced to throw across his body and was intercepted by linebacker Tae Crowder as time ran out.
The defense took the field to start the third quarter and Robinson broke up a pass for Reagor on fourth down to give the Giants the ball on their 41-yard line. A 17-yard pass to Darius Slayton ignited a drive that was aided by a pass interference call on cornerback Steve Nelson. Jones then fired a sinking pass that tight end Chris Myarick went to his knees to catch for his first NFL touchdown. It was also his first NFL reception and it put the Giants ahead 10-0.
All eyes were on the Giants’ offense to see how different they would look with Kitchens calling the plays. Normally sitting up in the press box when he was the senior offensive assistant, Kitchens as the interim offensive coordinator was stationed on the sideline, holding a play chart. The Giants went three-and-out on their first series, with two misfires by Jones.
Kitchens got a bit creative on the second series to kick-start an 11-play drive that ended with a Gano 35-yard field goal for a 3-0 Giants lead. Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker lined up together in the backfield, flanking Jones, on a swing pass to Barkley that picked up only 2 yards. The next play was a flea-flicker pass from Jones to tight end Evan Engram for 20 yards. A 14-yard scramble by Jones got the Giants in field goal range.
The Eagles were driving late in the first quarter when Hurts led Quez Watkins too far, allowing cornerback Darnay Holmes to pick the ball off for an interception at the 5-yard line. The turnover did not cost the Eagles any points when Gano missed a 51-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
Other than a 32-yard burst by Barkley — he bounced it outside after initially getting stuffed — there was not much on offense the rest of the first half.