It would have taken nothing short of a miracle for New York to make the playoffs this year, a situation this team positioned itself in by failing to find any semblance of consistency the entire season.
Still, the Giants came out of the gate firing.
In what would eventually prove to be their final contest of the year, the G-Men demolished the visiting Eagles, 42-7, begging the question — where has this been all season?
1. Offensive outburst: The Giants posted a 42-spot on the Eagles, matching the total (14) from their two previous games combined before the first quarter came to a close.
Eli Manning, who seemingly found himself in a slump since the middle of the season, broke loose for five touchdowns to four different receivers. He posted a 134.5 quarterback rating.
Seven different receivers were involved in the Giants offense, with rookie Reuben Randle and Victor Cruz each with a team-high five receptions.
What appeared to be a backfield at full strength gashed Philadelphia for 185 yards. Ahmad Bradshaw led the way with 107 yards and a touchdown, while rookie David Wilson followed suit with 75 yards.
2. Stingy defense: After allowing 30 points per game over their last three, the Giants held the Michael Vick-led Eagles to just one touchdown.
Vick was held to under 200 yards through the air and 25 yards on the ground. Vick, now 8-7 in his career against the Giants, averaged 54 yards per game rushing in his career against NY.
LeSean McCoy led a running attack that mustered just 110 yards. McCoy also led the team in receiving with 61 yards, which is a sign of how significant a part of the defensive game plan he was.
3. Ending the season on a high note: Though Chicago’s win officially eliminated New York from post-season contention, it bodes well for the team to enter the off-season with their spirits high.
Not only did the team show up mentally for this game, a number of the organization’s cornerstones offered a glimpse of what to expect next year.
Without a healthy/productive Hakeem Nicks, Randle stepped up opposite Cruz. Randle hauled in four passes for 58 yards and two first-half touchdowns.
Wilson, who split the workload near-evenly with Bradshaw, totaled all-purpose yards.
And with free agency looming for a number of defensive veterans, including safety Kenny Phillips, Stevie Brown registered his eighth interception of the season, the most in the NFL.
1. Low pressure: A lingering mystery throughout the entirety of this season has been the whereabouts of the pass rush.
New York, which entered Sunday’s action with 32 sacks, reached Vick just once. Philly’s offensive line has allowed 47 sacks this season, which is tied with San Diego for second-most in the league.
A cloud of doubt hangs over the futures of Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. Umenyiora has admitted he likely will not be a Giant this year, while Tuck — who accounted for the team’s lone sack — will turn 30 next year.
2. Consider the opponent: Anytime you can outscore your opponent 42-7 it’s an accomplishment, but let’s temper our immediate reactions.
Philly proved they’re a four-win team with the offensive and defensive effort they put forth in their regular season finale, which likely marked the end of Andy Reid Era in the City of Brotherly Love.
Injuries along the offensive line, to the dynamic DeSean Jackson and questions at the quarterback position have plagued Philadelphia all season long.
3. Nicks’ absence: Nicks was active for this game, but you would never know it by the box score.
Hampered by injuries all season long, Nicks has failed to catch a pass in the last two games. His snaps and, subsequently his production, have been curtailed by the knee injury.
Nicks finished ’12 with 53 receptions for a career-low 692 yards and three touchdowns after playing in just 13 games.
Next year will be a critical year for Nicks to rebound, as he is on deck in terms of contract talks for the Giants receivers. He will be a free agent in 2014.
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