We’ve covered the response from both teams involved in Sunday night’s regular-season closing contest in Philadelphia, but as we watched Nate Sudfeld try (and fail) to lead the Eagles to a comeback win, another team sat at home and stewed.
The Giants could have made the playoffs if the Eagles had defeated Washington, opening the door for New York to take home the NFC East by virtue of its Week 17 win over Dallas. Instead, Sudfeld replaced a healthy, semi-competitive Jalen Hurts in the second half and posted a 14.6 passer rating.
It was as ugly as the statistic indicates, and Giants coach Joe Judge still isn’t happy about the outcome, even if he initially tried to be diplomatic about the situation.
“I’ll let Philadelphia speak for themselves as far as how they approached the game,” Judge said Monday, via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano.
It didn’t take long, though, for Judge to let his true feelings be heard on how he felt about the way the Eagles closed their season by inserting a third-string quarterback in a one-score game and limping to the finish.
“Obviously, players have asked me throughout the day and I just can’t express that, the one thing to keep in mind with this season is we had a lot of people opt into this season, OK?” Judge said. “Coaches, players, that includes family members, as well. So, to look at a group of grown men who I ask to give me effort on a day in, day out basis and to empty the tank and then I can look them in the eye and assure them I’m always going to do everything I can to put them at a competitive advantage and play them in a position of strength. To me, you don’t ever want to disrespect those players and their effort, disrespect the game.
“The sacrifices that they made to come into work every day and test before coming in, to sit in meetings spaced out, to wear masks, to have shields over those masks, to go through extensive protocols, to travel in unconventional ways, to get text messages 6:30 in the morning telling them, ‘practice is going to be canceled, we have to do a virtual day,’ to tell them, ‘please don’t have your family over for Thanksgiving,’ ‘please avoid Christmas gatherings,’ ‘we know it’s your wife’s birthday, let’s make sure we put that one off to the offseason.’
“There’s a number of sacrifices that have been made by all the players and coaches in this league. There’s a number of sacrifices that come along, as well, with the family members and the people connected to them. To disrespect the effort that everyone put forward to make this season a success for the NFL, to disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything you can to help those players win. We will never do that as long as I’m the head coach of the New York Giants.”
Judge’s team will not be playing in the playoffs because Washington ended up winning the game and securing the crown of the league’s worst division at 7-9. But Judge’s team will also be sitting at home this weekend because they didn’t win enough games to take the division, a point that absolutely cannot go overlooked when discussing the finish to Week 17. To Judge’s credit, he didn’t avoid acknowledging this.
“Let me be very clear on this: We had 16 opportunities this year,” Judge said. “That’s it. We don’t ever want to leave our fate in the hands of anyone else. We’re not going to make excuses. Not now, not ever. We had our opportunities.”
The Giants had their opportunities and didn’t capitalize. A win on Sunday night of Week 15 against Cleveland, for example, might have gotten them over the hump and into the postseason. But when left with nothing more than to win in Week 17 and hope for some help from a divisional counterpart, his Giants were left empty-handed.
That will sting for months, starting with this weekend. Perhaps the Giants will use it as motivation entering the 2021 season. But the offseason will feel no shorter knowing they missed the postseason because of their own doing, and because they put themselves in a position where they needed Philadelphia to win to get them in — and the Eagles used the final minutes of their regular season to get a third-stringer some playing time.
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