The New York Giants were outclassed in a big way Thursday night against the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. From the very early stages of the game, Giants fans in New Jersey knew this was going to be a long night. It included an Eli Manning interception early in the first quarter and culminated in a 34-13 loss for the Giants.
Despite team-wide struggles, rookie running back Saquon Barkley put up one heck of a performance for the Giants. Meanwhile, Odell Beckham’s antics and lack of production didn’t show him in the best of lights.
For the Eagles, it seemed everything was clicking. Carson Wentz found a tremendous rhythm with Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery while Philadelphia’s pass rush battered Manning all evening.
These are among the biggest winners and losers from the Eagles’ Thursday Night Football win over the hapless Giants.
Winner: Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants
Barkley was a one-man show for his Giants in the first half. He awed onlookers with this beautiful nine-yard run that seemed to be vintage Walter Payton. Later in the first half, Barkley broke pretty much two-dozen tackles en route to a 55-yard catch-and-run. When all was said and done, Barkley had gained 149 total yards on 13 touches in the first two quarters.
He didn’t slow down in the second half, providing the Giants with their only touchdown of the game in the form of a 50-yard run. All said, Barkley tallied 229 yards on 22 touches in the blowout loss. Now, through six games, the generational talent is on pace for 2,163 total yards as a rookie. Whew.
Loser: Giants offensive line
Eli Manning isn’t out of the woods quite yet. We’ll have a whole heck of a lot more on the struggling Giants’ signal caller here in a bit. But it’s not like Manning’s offensive line did him any favors early on Thursday. Having dropped back to pass 25 times in the first half, the two-time Super Bowl champ was hit a total of nine times during that span.
It didn’t get much better as the game progressed. Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long all hit Manning multiple times All said, he was hit 13 times and sacked four times in the loss. And while the Giants might have been smart to move on from Ereck Flowers, the remaining members of this line have proven to be disastrous. It’s just not a good look.
Winner: Michael Bennett, defensive end, Philadelphia Eagles
Bennett entered Thursday’s game having put up just one sack in his first five games as a member of the Eagles. In no way does that stat tell the entire story. The three-time Pro Bowler also racked up eight quarterback hits in those five games. It was just a matter of time before these hits turned into sacks.
It didn’t take a full quarter for that to happen against the Giants. About eight minutes into this initial stanza, Bennett sacked Eli Manning — forcing a fumble in the process. While it was recovered by the Giants, this set the tone for what would be a dominating pass-rush performance from the defending champs.
Loser: Pat Shurmur, head coach, New York Giants
Let’s ignore the second half for a second. New York found itself down 24-6 through two quarters. Out of simple necessity, the team was forced to have Manning toss the rock a ton in the second half. But before that, the same issues we saw with play-calling in the first five games was once again brought front and center.
Given how dominant Saquon Barkley was in the initial half, there’s absolutely no reason he should have seen just nine rush attempts compared to Manning dropping back to pass 25 times. After all, the Giants averaged 11.5 yards per play when Barkley touched the ball compared to 3.5 yards when he didn’t. At some point, Shurmur has to be blamed for not getting his star rookie more involved.
Winner: Carson Wentz, quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
It’s not like Wentz was struggling heading into Thursday’s matchup with the Giants. He had accounted for five touchdowns and just one interception in his first three starts of the season. Instead, the MVP-caliber player we saw prior to him suffering a torn ACL late last season had not yet shown itself.
That changed against what was a less-than-inspired Giants defense in Jersey. Wentz completed 26-of-36 passes for 278 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions in the blowout win. It might have come against a bad team. But it’s certainly a nice first step and helped Philadelphia avoid a three-game losing streak.
Loser: Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, New York Giants
Things have gone downhill fast for OBJ and the Giants since he signed an extension late this past summer. Outside of his struggles on the field, the boisterous receiver made noise by calling his team out publicly leading up to Thursday’s game. Then, as the first half concluded with his Giants down 18 points, OBJ took an early trip to the locker room. He didn’t return with his team in the third quarter, either.
This diva mentality is not going to work in the Giants’ locker room. That’s as clear as day. Beckham continues to prove himself to be immature with all the signs of being a hothead. On the field, he put up just six catches for 44 yards in the blowout home loss to Philadelphia. Yuck.
Winner: Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver, Philadelphia Eagles
It sure looks like Jeffery is completely healthy after missing the first three games of the season and showing himself to be inconsistent in the two games since returning from injury. Taking on what was a disastrous Giants secondary, Jeffery caught 8-of-12 targets for 74 yards, including two touchdowns.
It’s this type of performance Philadelphia was banking on when it signed the former Chicago Bears star to a lucrative extension late last season. At 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, he has the size to dominate. We saw that first-hand on Thursday, and it bodes well for the Eagles’ offense moving forward this season.
Loser: Eli Apple, cornerback, New York Giants
Having played well to start the season, this highly-combative figure was back up to his old tricks on Thursday night. Nelson Agholor absolutely dominated Apple throughout the game, including a 58-yard catch on third-and-3 in the second quarter. It led directly to the Eagles’ third touchdown of the half. And the rout was on.
It’s sad to see someone of Apple’s talent level continuing to struggle with consistency. He’ll look great one week, only to look like he doesn’t even belong on an NFL roster the following week. It’s in this that the Giants might finally realize they can’t rely on the former first-round pick.
Winner: Nelson Agholor, wide receiver, Philadelphia Eagles
This former first-round pick had put up a solid first five games of the season, catching 67 percent of the 34 balls thrown in his direction during that span. It sure beats the two-plus seasons to start his career that saw the USC product catch just 52 percent of the passes thrown his way. It’s all about progression, and we’re seeing it first-hand right now.
Thursday’s game was no different. Agholor made mincemeat of Eli Apple throughout the game, catching three passes for 91 yards on five targets. With the way Jeffery is performing opposite him, Wentz might have that elite-level wide receiver tandem to toss the rock to moving forward this season.
Loser: Eli Manning, quarterback, New York Giants
Talk of Manning’s struggles impacting how his teammates felt about him made headlines ahead of Thursday’s game against the defending champs. Like clockwork, he made sure that said drama would continue well into the season. Manning threw an interception on the Giants’ very first drive and proceeded to struggle throughout the remainder of the game.
The final stats will tell us a story of a quarterback who completed 24-of-43 passes for 281 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. On passes not intended for Barkley, Manning completed just 15-of-31 passes for well less than 200 yards. Manning is simply a shell of his former self. There’s no other way to go about it. One now has to wonder whether his career will come to an ugly end following the 2018 season.