- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Giants took care of their own business by destroying the Eagles, but they were eliminated from playoff contention by virtue of Chicago’s victory over the Lions.
The Giants needed a win over Philadelphia and losses by Dallas, Chicago and Minnesota to get into the playoffs.
So their title defense ends with a 9-7 record. Despite finishing with a blowout victory, the Giants will go into the offseason wondering how they let the NFC East slip out of their hands. After starting off 6-2, the Giants closed the second half going just 3-5 to miss the playoffs for the third time in the past four seasons.
Now they head into an offseason which certainly could bring change to the roster with some familiar faces not returning.
ELIte explosion: After managing just 14 points in the previous two games, the Giants exploded for 35 points in the first half against a woeful Philadelphia team.
Eli Manning matched his career-high of four touchdowns in a game but did so in the first half. He later set his career-high with a fifth touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Looking as sharp as he has all season, Manning connected on 11-of-16 passes for 196 yards in the first half. Two of his touchdowns went to rookie Rueben Randle, another went to rookie running back David Wilson and the fourth was to Victor Cruz.
The touchdown pass to Cruz, who surpassed his total of 9 touchdowns last year, was as sharp a touchdown pass as Manning has thrown all season, even if Cruz was wide open.
Rookie surprise: The Giants’ rout got started on the hands and legs of their first two draft picks -- Randle and Wilson.
With the hobbled Hakeem Nicks watching and cheering on the sideline, Randle took advantage of his opportunity with a breakout day. He caught a three-yard touchdown pass and then added a 38-yard touchdown grab over Nnamdi Asomugha down the left sideline to put the Giants up 14-0 with 6:24 left in the first quarter.
Wilson started the game and scored on a 15-yard catch from Manning. Ahmad Bradshaw, who has been playing with a sprained knee, spelled Wilson and looked terrific, scoring a touchdown of his own and rushing for 67 yards on his seven first-half carries. Bradshaw reached 1,000 yards on the season in the second half.
Return of Stevie Wonder: The Eagles surprised the Giants with a successful onside kick to start the game. But Stevie Brown intercepted Michael Vick on the opening drive and returned it 48 yards to the Eagles’ 26 to set up Manning’s first touchdown pass to Randle.
Brown, the biggest surprise of the season for the Giants, has 8 interceptions. The Giants are 6-0 when he has had at least one pick.
What’s next: An offseason of uncertainty. The Giants finish 9-7 for second straight year but this time no playoffs. Now GM Jerry Reese will have to find a way to re-tool a team that won it all a year ago but couldn’t win enough to make the playoffs.