Eagles spoil Coughlin's possible last game with Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Coughlin has walked off the field surrounded by photographers and camera crews many times in his 12 years with the New York Giants.
Many were celebratory, including two Super Bowl wins. Sunday was different. Coughlin's head was down heading to the tunnel after a season-ending 35-30 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and he only lifted it momentarily to wave to the crowd in what might have been his final game as coach.
It was another tough loss in a season of excruciating losses. The 69-year-old's future is in doubt after missing the playoffs for four straight seasons.
"The frustration continues," said Coughlin, who led the Giants to Super Bowls in the 2007 and 2011 seasons. "You've got your questions prepared for what direction I'm going in, I'm not going to answer anything about that. The season just ended, there will be time for that."
The game was typical of this season for the Giants (6-10). They had chances and squandered them with the game changing on an 83-yard, third-quarter fumble return for a touchdown by former Giant Walter Thurmond.
Instead of being ahead 13, the Giants fell behind in their third straight loss, ending a third straight losing season.
Coughlin has a year left on his contract. His future is expected to be decided soon by co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch.
"Everyone in this organization tried real hard not to talk about it, but we knew who we were playing this game for, and let's finish," Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "It feels like we let that person down."
The Eagles (7-9) didn't wait for the end of the season to start changing things. Chip Kelly was fired Tuesday after Philadelphia missed the playoffs for the second straight season.
Kelly was given control of personnel moves this season and he made a lot of bad ones, releasing three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, trading two-time All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy and signing running back DeMarco Murray.
Sam Bradford, who Kelly acquired from the Rams, threw two short touchdown passes to Jordan Matthews, the last one with 9:19 to play to give the Eagles a 35-27 lead to get a win for interim coach Pat Shurmur.
"After going through what we went through this week, it wasn't easy on anyone," said Bradford, who was 30 of 38 for 320 yards. "I'm so proud of the guys in that locker room and the way they rallied around Pat."
Josh Brown added his third field goal for the Giants with 4:30 to go to cut the gap to five points, and New York's defense got the ball back for Eli Manning and the offense with 1:43 to play. However, the Giants turned the ball over on downs at their own 42 with 28 seconds left.
Manning (24 of 43 for 302) downplayed the emotional nature of the game, saying all the team wanted to do was play well and win.
Rashad Jennings rushed for a season-high 170 yards and scored a touchdown for the Giants. Manning threw touchdown passes of 9 yards to Will Tye and 45 to Rueben Randle, with both scores set up by turnovers forced by the Giants' leaky defense.
"That is a guy that has so much command in the room, so much respect amongst his peers and us," Jennings said of Coughlin. "We will fight for him, continue to follow him and there is no doubt in my mind that (he) is the man for the job."
The biggest play in the game came late in the third quarter with the Giants looking to expand a 27-21 lead. They had a first down at the Eagles 15 after a holding call and Manning went back to pass. He hit by Connor Barwin and the ball fluttered into the flat. Thurmond grabbed the ball, fought off a tackle attempt by Shane Vereen and ran for the touchdown.
"I told the fellows before the game to leave the unknown on the buses and take three hours and have fun doing your job and try to win a football game," Shurmur said.
The Giants outgained the Eagles 502-435, but they settled for three field goals and had the big turnover.
Philadelphia scored touchdowns on drive of 80, 85 and 80 and 91 yards. Murray capped the first with a season-long 54-yard run. Darren Sproles scored after a 60-yard catch and run by tight end Zach Ertz, and Bradford and Matthews connected on a 4-yard TD pass.
NOTES: Odell Beckham returned from a one-game suspension and had five catches for 54 yards. ...Ertz led the Eagles with nine catches for 152. ...Giants S Brandon Meriweather left the game with a knee injury and his replacement Trumaine McBride had a concussion. ...Eagles WR Nelson Agholor left with a concussion. ... Philadelphia LBs Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks had team-high nine tackles as did S Malcolm Jenkins. MLB Jasper Brinkley led New York with nine. ...Giants LB J.T. Thomas was fined $10,000 for unnecessary roughing resulting from his disqualification in last week's game against Minnesota.