The hardest thing to take about the Giants' five-game losing streak to the Eagles isn't the fact that the Giants have lost all those games. It's the fact that they find different ways to lose every time.
They've lost in the regular season and they've lost in the playoffs. They've been blown out and they've lost close games. They've lost because Brian Westbrook was a better athlete than anyone on the Giants defense on a blustery day in the Meadowlands and they've lost because LeSean McCoy outran the entire team earlier this season in Philadelphia. They've lost to Donovan McNabb and they've lost to Michael Vick.
Just losing is bad enough, but losing in such a wide variety of ways is particularly galling.
If there's any common thread to the games, it is that Eli Manning has usually saved his worst performances for games against the Eagles. He's turned the ball over 10 times in the five losses while throwing seven touchdowns in performances that have veered from the erratic to the downright awful. The Eagles, whoever they have under center, haven't suffered such indignities on their end.
Laying it all on the feet of Eli would be unfair and incorrect. The Eagles' ability to find a way over the last three seasons has come with the help of several Giants players and coaches. If they were simply getting steamrolled, you'd shrug your shoulders and call them the better team without losing much skin off your back. They aren't though. The Giants were in position to win all but one of these games, but never made the plays they needed to make to get it done.
There are too many obvious football reasons to use as explanations for the losses, but taken together it gets hard not to think about more metaphysical rationales. The Eagles just have the Giants' number or they live in their heads or whatever other cliched explanation you like to use in these situations.
We see a different connective tissue. Over the last three years, the biggest question about this Giants team has been their ability to stand toe to toe with other good teams. More often than not, they've failed in their challenges to prove that ability. It's the reason for the nagging suspicion that keeps you from falling in love with a team that looks so good against teams like the Redskins and Seahawks and it's the lingering reminder that, however rosy things appear, there's always a team that has the Giants in their back pocket looming to ruin everybody's fun.
They've got one last chance to erase that suspicion this weekend. If they do it, you can really believe the sky is the limit for this team. If they don't, it will be hard to imagine that there's much of a future for Big Blue this year.