EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants found a new way to lose. It shouldn’t be surprising given the way this season has unfolded.
Their special teams was the primary culprit on Sunday in a 34-29 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. That is evident in this week’s up/downs.
Without the benefit of film review, here were the best and worst performers from Sunday:
WR Tavarres King: He all but put Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills on his backside with a perfectly executed slant-and-go route in the first quarter. King was wide open for the touchdown. He also burned cornerback Ronald Darby in the third quarter and showed his speed on a 57-yard touchdown catch. The only downside is he suffered a concussion on the second touchdown and did not return. Tough break after King scored two TDs on Sunday. He came into the afternoon with one career regular-season touchdown.
QB Eli Manning: He played his best game of the season. It may have been one of his best games since the 2015 season. Manning was quick and decisive. He got the ball to his playmakers (Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram) early and often. The increased tempo appeared to get Manning into a rhythm early. He finished with a season-best 434 yards passing and tied a season-high with three touchdown passes. The only thing missing from this vintage performance was leading a fourth quarterback comeback with a game-winning drive. He still doesn’t have one of those in this rough season.
DE Olivier Vernon: He was a one-man pass rush for the Giants. He recorded a sack for four yards but was constantly in the Eagles' backfield. Vernon had five quarterback hits in the contest. The Giants had seven as a team. He also forced a fumble that Philadelphia was fortunate to recover. It was a strong effort from Vernon, who has been banged up this season.
Tom Quinn: Where do you even start? Quinn is the Giants special teams coordinator and just about every part of his group was a mess. They looked woefully unprepared as they had a field goal, extra point and punt blocked. Quite the trifecta. It even appeared that the Eagles were daring Kalif Raymond to return some kickoff and punts. He averaged a pedestrian 20.0 yards on five kickoffs and had one punt return for seven yards. Quinn's special teams, which came in ranked near the bottom of the league, cost the Giants the game on Sunday. That falls on his shoulders. It’s hard to imagine a situation where he survives the “wholesale changes” this offseason, given the performance of his units in this game and this season.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul: While Vernon was constantly pressuring Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, Pierre-Paul was being held in check by right tackle Lane Johnson. He didn’t record a sack or quarterback hit despite playing 94 percent of the defensive snaps. Pierre-Paul was also flagged for an illegal use of hands penalty. Clearly, he's somewhat limited wearing the club on his right hand, but the Giants need more from their high-priced defensive end who has underperformed this season.
S Darian Thompson: The young safety finished with nine tackles and a pass defended, but it was hardly his best game. He missed a pair of tackles, including a big one on a third down in the fourth quarter. He also appeared to be involved in a missed assignment on the blocked punt, where Thompson was in an unfamiliar role filling in for the injured Nat Berhe as the fullback on the punt team. It continues the up-and-down season for second-year safety who is going through his rookie travails after missing almost all of last season.