Secondary Lets Eagles Down in Loss to Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – As he stood by his locker following the Eagles’ 28-23 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium (see Instant Replay), Leodis McKelvin didn’t try to hide it.

How did the veteran corner think he played?

“Ahhh s---,” he said shaking his head in possible disbelief.  

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“What happened? They run a play action, score a touchdown. First play called on me, first pass called on me, touchdown. Then came next play, s---, ran into my man, damn. F---. For the touchdown? Then they got me on the last one.”

In a mostly forgettable 2016 season in which he’s been hampered by injury, Sunday had to be McKelvin’s worst day of the year.

“I have to say to myself that those three plays, I mean, take those three plays out, the day could be, the game could be different,” McKelvin said. “We played a good game, as far as minus all that and all those mistakes. We played a good game as a defense. The only thing we have to do is get the ball back to our offense, go down and make plays.”

It wasn’t just McKelvin. The entire Eagles’ secondary deserved some of the blame following the team’s fourth loss in five games (see Roob's 10 observations from the loss).

Against Eli Manning and the Giants, the Eagles gave up four passing touchdowns for the first time this season after coming into Sunday having given up just eight all year. The Eagles didn’t give up their fourth passing touchdown on the year until the Washington game.

And it wasn’t just the number of touchdowns, it was that the Eagles gave up three of them on X-plays (see standout plays from Eagles' loss).  Sunday was the first time the Eagles gave up three passing touchdowns of 25-plus yards since 2011 – also against Manning.

“Our job is to defense the end zone,” safety Rodney McLeod said, “so we have to step up and get better in those situations.”

The first two touchdowns the Eagles gave up came after Carson Wentz interceptions that set the Giants up deep in Philadelphia territory.

On their second drive of the game, the Giants got the ball on the Philadelphia 31-yard line and took just two plays to score. Manning hit Odell Beckham Jr. on a 26-yard touchdown pass. Beckham beat McKelvin on a slant and McLeod couldn’t make the tackle as the Pro Bowler easily made it into the end zone.  

“It was just a slant play,” McLeod said. “He ran, I broke, just had a bad angle. That’s my job at the end of the day. Whatever happens up front, happens. Ultimately, I’m supposed to get him down.”

Wentz tossed his next interception a little over a minute after the Giants’ first touchdown, giving New York the ball on the Philly 30-yard line. This time it took three plays, but Manning hit Roger Lewis Jr. for a 30-yard score. On that play, McKelvin and Jaylen Watkins collided, which left Lewis wide open.

Thanks to Wentz’s interceptions (see breakdown of Wentz's day) and the two long plays early, the Giants took 14-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.

"When those situations happen, you have to rise up and pin our ears back and ultimately stop them," McLeod said. "Obviously, when you’re in that territory, three points is a win for us but obviously we want a turnover. We kind of came up short on both of those. Had some lapses on the back end, which is uncharacteristic for us. I missed that one tackle with Odell.

"Obviously, we were put in tough situations, but we’ve been in tough situations all year, even two weeks ago, Vikings. Last week too. The difference was we held them to field goals. That’s what we need to do. Other than that, we competed, we battled. Kept guys in front of us. Made plays."

The next Giants passing touchdown came in the second quarter, when Beckham had single coverage against McKelvin on the goal line and simply beat him off the line. Beckham, who finished with four catches for 46 yards and two scores, said he was surprised to get the ball in that situation. That score put New York up 21-10.

The fourth and final Giants passing touchdown came in the third quarter, when Malcolm Jenkins was lined up against rookie Sterling Shepard in the slot. Shepard caught a 32-yarder that ended up being the difference in the game. Jenkins even held Shepard on the play, which was called but didn’t matter.

“Yeah, I was kind of supposed to be on the inside and once I felt him whip back out, I grabbed him but at that point we were in that coverage,” Jenkins said. “We were thinking somebody would be in his face and they just had the perfect route for what we were in at the time and he was wide open.”

The Eagles actually held Manning to 257 yards passing and picked him off twice.

But the four passing touchdowns – and three x-play touchdowns – proved to be too much in the big division loss.

“It was a game of big plays,” Shepard said. “We knew that we were going to have to do that coming in. We knew they had a physical defense, so we had to do our part to get open.”

The Eagles didn’t do their part to stop them.  

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