Sports

Giants defense can’t close and it’s now a devastating problem

PHILADELPHIA — This defense isn’t going to remind anyone of Mariano Rivera. Or even Jeurys Familia, for that matter.

The Giants can’t close.

Their inability to finish led to a blown 17-point lead last Sunday against the Buccaneers, and with some help from a disappearing offense, it led to Sunday’s 25-22 loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.

“[We have to] finish the game,” linebacker Olivier Vernon said after the Giants’ two-game winning streak was snapped. “It’s self-explanatory.”

After a slow start, quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles ate up the Giants defense, scoring on five of their final seven possessions. A 10-play, 50-yard drive that was capped by Jake Elliott’s 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds left was the difference. The Giants had a chance to get off the field on fourth-and-1, but Wentz converted on a 12-yard hookup with Nelson Agholor.

If Wentz wasn’t picking apart the Giants with short crossing patterns, the Eagles were running it down their throats. They ran four consecutive times during a touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter, picking up 30 yards. Josh Adams ran for 84 yards on 22 carries, frequently bouncing off the first tackler.

“It was us not fitting in our gaps, that’s about it,” safety Landon Collins said. “You see a running back cut back and somebody wasn’t there that was supposed to be there.”

In the locker room, the team’s top defensive players offered mixed messages. Collins thought the defense played well despite the Eagles’ success after halftime, saying the unit did its job. Linebacker Alec Ogletree and Vernon gave different opinions, admitted they again couldn’t finish. It’s hard to dispute that. The Giants allowed 21 fourth-quarter points last Sunday and 11 this one.

“We didn’t do enough,” Vernon said.

They were doing enough early on, shutting the Eagles out for most of the first half. The Giants started well against the Buccaneers as well. But fast starts haven’t meant much once the fourth quarter rolls around.

“I don’t know what changed, honestly,” Collins said. “They kind of figured something out and kind [got rolling] from that point on.”

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