PHILADELPHIA — For the Giants, Monday’s game began with their best drive of the season. The offensive line created holes for the running backs and protected quarterback Eli Manning, whose passing moved the Giants crisply down the field.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who did not practice last week because of a hamstring injury, ran freely into the open and concluded a precisely proficient first series with a 13-yard touchdown reception that gave the Giants an early lead over the Philadelphia Eagles.
“The first drive was about as good as it could be,” Manning later said, although he was not smiling.
Manning’s mood had soured considerably by the end of the game because the Eagles roared back after the opening minutes to thrash the Giants, 27-7.
A cavalcade of Giants blunders opened the door for the Eagles in a game that was a sloppy jumble of penalties, turnovers and poor decision making.
“You can’t play like that,” Coach Tom Coughlin said. “That’s bad football.”
At Lincoln Financial Field almost exactly a year ago, a Giants three-game winning streak ended in a humiliating rout, the first of seven consecutive losses that set the stage for the team’s third successive nonplayoff season. Early in Monday’s game, with the Giants again riding a three-game winning streak, they appeared determined to gain some revenge in their return to Philadelphia.
The fast start turned out to be nothing more than a tease. What followed were three first-half Giants turnovers, two pivotal Giants penalties — the team had 12 over all — and the worst performance of the season by the offensive line, ruining the team’s offensive game plan.
The Giants, who came into the game in sole possession of first place in the N.F.C. East, fell into a tie atop the division with the Eagles (3-3).
“Self-inflicted wounds, that’s what it was,” said Giants running back Rashad Jennings, who had a first-half fumble. “We beat ourselves up.”
Around the Giants’ locker room, after a game in which Philadelphia committed four turnovers — one more than the Giants — there was a sense of lost opportunity, which is rare when the opposition scores the game’s final 27 points.
“For a while there, I thought we were about to go ahead, 14-0, and be in good shape,” Coughlin said.
The optimism was not completely misplaced. Leading by 7-0, the Giants moved to the Eagles’ 23-yard line on their next possession. Manning threw a first-down pass to tight end Larry Donnell, who grabbed it with both hands. Philadelphia linebacker DeMeco Ryans, though, quickly wrested the ball from Donnell, and the play was ruled an interception.
“We both had our hands on it, but he made a good play,” Donnell said.
Still, the Giants were on the verge of getting the ball back after stopping the Eagles’ offense on three plays. But a roughing-the-passer penalty on defensive end Damontre Moore after a short third-down pass by Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford extended the Philadelphia drive. Four players later, wide receiver Riley Cooper sprinted down the middle of the field, and although Giants defensive backs Jayron Hosley and Brandon Meriweather were near Cooper, neither tried to cover him. Bradford had no trouble connecting with Cooper for a game-tying 32-yard touchdown.
It was the first time, but hardly the last time, on Monday that the Giants sorely missed the starting cornerback Prince Amukamara and his backup, Trumaine McBride, who were sidelined with injuries.
Undaunted, the Giants’ offense charged into Eagles territory again on a succeeding drive. On a third-and-1, Jennings appeared to gain a first down on a rush up the middle. The initial spot seemed to indicate a first down as well, but then the ball was moved back. The Giants could have asked for a replay review of the spot but instead chose to quickly run on fourth-and-1. A Jennings sweep to the left — not a Giants strong suit all season — lost 2 yards.
It seemed that the momentum was slipping from the Giants. In fact, the home crowd was only beginning to have things to cheer about. Early in the second quarter, Manning threw from the Giants’ 18-yard line, flinging the ball into the flat toward wide receiver Dwayne Harris, who had crisscrossed with Rueben Randle.
Manning later said he had thought the Eagles were in man-to-man coverage when in fact they were in a zone. That misread left Manning’s pass vulnerable, and cornerback Nolan Carroll leapt forward to pick off the pass and return it 17 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 Eagles lead.
Another promising first-half possession by the Giants ended with Jennings’s fumble.
After trailing by 17-7 at the half, the Giants began the third quarter as if they were ready to improve on their stumbling play. The defense forced a fumble on the Eagles’ first drive after intermission, and then Jennings ran for 14 yards.
But three plays later, near midfield, Manning, who completed 24 of 38 passes for 189 yards, was sacked, one of three times he was brought down in the pocket. The offensive line’s inability to control the Philadelphia pass rush, especially in the second half, disrupted every intention of the Giants’ offensive scheme.
Beckham, who caught seven passes for 61 yards in the first half, had no receptions in the final two quarters, with only one pass even thrown in his direction.
But for all that was going wrong for the Giants, they trailed by only 10 points near the midpoint of the third quarter. Then the Giants’ defense, which was on the field far too long, stopped the Eagles deep in their own territory. A fourth-down punt followed, but the Giants’ Nikita Whitlock was called for running into the kicker, and the penalty gave the ball back to Philadelphia.
Eight plays later, DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 109 yards on 22 carries, burst around the right end, fighting through would-be tacklers to rumble into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown that put Philadelphia ahead, 24-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Giants were whistled for a holding penalty, which pushed them back to their 11-yard line. Things did not get any better from there. A drive ended after Manning scrambled for any room to throw and eventually heaved the ball in a desperate attempt to avoid another sack. Manning, for the second time Monday, was called for intentional grounding.
The rout was on.
The Giants had been aware of the similarities between last season and this year as they traveled to Philadelphia. They talked about not letting history repeat itself.
But the Eagles dominated the Giants again. Is there fear that another collapse is on the horizon?
“Not at all,” Jennings said. “That was last year. Different team. That’s a different deal.”
Coughlin, displeased and disappointed, offered another perspective.
“We’re going to have to get our chins off the floor real quick,” Coughlin said. “We play again in six days.”