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Meadowlands Meltdown: Giants Lose 38-31 to Eagles

DeSean Jackson's touchdown caps an epic collapse by the Giants

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Dec 20, 2010  |  Updated 7:05 AM EDT
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Joe Pisarcik is finally off the hook.

More than 32 years after the Giants quarterback fumbled away a game against the Eagles to create the Miracle at the Meadowlands, the Giants blew an even more comfortable victory against their rivals from down the turnpike in even more dramatic fashion.

With 14 seconds left to play, all the Giants had to do was punt the ball away from DeSean Jackson to force overtime and give themselves a chance to take the lead in the NFC East. Instead Matt Dodge, who has been awful all season and given a zillion chances by the supposedly demanding Tom Coughlin, punted right to Jackson and the Eagles superstar went 65 yards to drive a knife directly into the heart of every Giants fan who thought they had a win in hand.

Thanks to four Eli Manning touchdown passes and a strong defensive effort, the Giants led 31-10 with 8:17 to play in the fourth quarter. For some reason, they decided to go to sleep. Brent Celek was left unguarded on a seam route, leading to a touchdown, and then the Giants neglected to pay attention to an onside kick. Michael Vick, kept in check all day, was allowed to scramble to his heart's content for a second touchdown. The Giants offense, which was clicking most of the day, died and Vick again took the team down the field with his feet before hitting Jeremy Maclin for a tying touchdown. For those keeping score, that was 21 points in 6:12 for an Eagles team that was left for dead by their own head coach.

Andy Reid, who has long struggled with the intracacies of coaching NFL games from the sideline, made two brutal errors on Sunday to help hand the Giants two of their touchdowns.

The first came in the first quarter when Hakeem Nicks clearly bobbled and dropped a pass from Manning. The referees ruled it a catch, but Reid decided not to throw his red flag and allowed the Giants to march down the field for a Mario Manningham touchdown. Brutal, but not even Reid's biggest gift of this Christmas season.

That would come on a fumble by DeSean Jackson that, at first, appeared to be similar to Manning's untouched dive to the ground in the teams' first meeting. Replays made it obvious that Jackson was touched by Jonathan Goff before hitting the deck, however. For reasons that are unknown to anyone with a brain or a desire to win football games, Reid decided not to throw the flag and the Giants cruised to another score.

It was such a bad performance that you kinda feel like Coughlin didn't have his team guard against the onside kick so that it would make Reid look even worse in the final reckoning. Alas, he gave his own team too much credit for making him look good in the end.

Coughlin doesn't look good. It seemed that the coach had finally solved his team's inability to remain focused in the second halves of seasons, but then they fell apart in the biggest game of the year with a huge lead on their home field. Plenty of people deserve blame, but it has to fall on the head coach who has refused to address the Dodge problem and who clearly allowed his team to take their foot off the gas long before the game was over. Compare that to what Bill Belichick did to the Jets a few weeks ago and it's hard to come up with any defense of Coughlin in light of this failure.

Winning the division is going to be awfully difficult for the Giants now. The Eagles have a one-game lead plus the edge in any tiebreaker. That means they'll need to lose out while the Giants win both remaining games on the road. That's a mighty tall order for a team that can't even close out totally beaten opposition in their stadium.

All in all, the Giants probably should have just settled for getting the Eagles a copy of Keith Richards' book for Christmas.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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