In the end, that 14:51 stretch over the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth turned the Eagles from a potential 2-1 team with a tough road loss into a 1-2 team facing two fourth-quarter disintegrations.
The most critical moment came on an Eagles fourth and one from the Giants' 43. There was 11:43 remaining in the game, the Eagles were up, 16-14, and Andy Reid went for it, trying to extend the lead. Instead, he gave the struggling Giants offense a lifeline. The Giants' previous four drives had gone 51, minus-1, 30 and minus-3 yards and netted three first downs. They had not scored since the first quarter. But their defense stopped LeSean McCoy for a 3-yard loss. The game swung.
"If it had worked, we'd all be screaming and happy. I was hot. I'm confident with the call, though," McCoy said. "I definitely think the momentum shifted a little bit at that point."
"I thought it was the right thing to do. That's on me, and it's my responsibility there," said Reid, who criticized himself for being too conservative last week. "I didn't do it last week, and I should have. I did it this week, and I shouldn't have. That's how this thing works sometimes."
The Giants, with a short field, went 54 yards in seven plays, finishing with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz, who stunningly leaped in front of Nnamdi Asomugha and Jarrad Page for the score. Cruz, who had two career catches in five games entering Sunday, played a big role because of injuries to the team's second and third receivers.
"[Manning] threw it into the zone where we both were, and [Cruz] came back to the ball and was able to make the play," Asomugha said. "That type of stuff shouldn't happen."
The defense, for a second consecutive week, had given up a fourth-quarter lead. Eagles defensive players said they needed to rally for their coach.
"That was when we needed to make the stop, and we didn't, and it was kind of the turning point," Asomugha said.
"If I was Coach Reid, I would have gone for it, too," said linebacker Jamar Chaney. "We have to go out there and have his back."
Instead, after a 2-point conversion, the Giants had a 22-16 lead that they wouldn't give back.
The fourth-down failure was the most glaring play, but the problems had actually begun earlier, with a first and goal at the Giants 2-yard line with 3:23 left in the third quarter. The pass-happy Reid decided to give the running game a whirl, only without his best runner. The Eagles ran four times (an offsides penalty gave them an extra chance): twice Michael Vick tried to sneak into the end zone, twice the ball went to fullback Owen Schmitt, who has never scored an NFL rushing touchdown. McCoy, with 112 rushing yards to that point in the game, didn't get a touch.
"I kind of thought I would get it because I was getting hot in the last three games. But, I am confident in the call," McCoy said. "If it had worked out, the outcome might have been different."
The Eagles settled for a field goal, and a 2-point lead that home fans actually booed, but the sequence was quickly overtaken by Reid's even more questionable fourth-down decision.
The failed running play near midfield also turned out to be Vick's last play of the game. After the Giants took over and Cruz scored, Mike Kafka came in and promptly lobbed a deep pass to DeSean Jackson that was easily intercepted by Aaron Ross. This time, the Giants had only 56 yards to cover for another touchdown. There was 3:32 left in the game, but it was over.
With the Eagles much-hyped assembly of stars finally on display for the Philadelphia faithful, an awful 14 minutes, 51 seconds marred their debut. The question is whether the same problems will linger through the season.
Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanTamari on Twitter.