Despite digging an early 14-0 hole and leaving points on the field all day, the Eagles somehow still had a chance to take the lead on the Giants with 1:28 remaining. All Jordan Matthews had to do was wrap his hands around Carson Wentz's fourth-down pass and hold on.
Instead of a 17-yard touchdown that would've given the Eagles the lead, the ball grazed off of Matthews' fingers and fell to the ground incomplete. The play resulted in a turnover on downs, and all that was required of the Giants was two kneel-downs to seal a 29-23 victory in the Meadowlands (see Instant Replay).
"It was a good ball," Matthews said postgame. "Carson put it outside, good placement. I've just got locate it, find it and bring it in. That's really it, to be honest."
Despite Matthews' criticism of himself, Wentz felt he could have thrown a better ball to give his receiver more of a chance to haul it in.
“Obviously a little more inside," Wentz said his final pass. "I didn’t want to fade [Matthews] too much like that. That’s red zone football. You’ve got to be precise down there, and we just missed that one."
While Matthews insists this was a play that he needed to make, it was by no means as it easy as it might sound. The third-year wide receiver didn't appear to immediately pick up the ball when it was in the air. Then the throw was ever-so-slightly out of reach, making for a high degree of difficulty with a defender in hot pursuit (see standout plays).
Regardless of whether or not the toss by Wentz was perfect, Matthews took full responsibility for not coming up with it.
"It's on me," Matthews said. "We're not going to get into all of that. If it's fourth down and the game is on the line and 11 picks me, I have to go get the ball. That's always been my mindset and that's the way I feel.
"He hits me on those plays all the time. He actually hit me on that pass earlier in the game too, so 11 knows where to put the ball. I just have to go find it."
Matthews finished with six receptions on 10 targets for 88 yards, but noticeably absent from the scoresheet. The Eagles sure could've used one from their top wideout, as the offense only managed score twice despite six trips to the red zone.
"I take that upon myself," Matthews said. "I know we get down there, that has to be our territory and that has got to be a place where I win. We're going to go back, watch the film, assess it and then figure out ways to actually get better down there. I'm one of the guys it starts with too, so we just have to improve there.
The final play wasn't Matthews' only opportunity to score for the Eagles. In the first quarter, Wentz had Matthews for what looked like a surefire 27-yard touchdown down the seam. Then out of nowhere, Giants safety Andrew Adams deflected the pass, just barely getting a finger on the ball, but enough to redirect it out of the open receiver's reach.
Matthews felt the throw was exactly where it needed to be. The Giants simply denied the Eagles' offense, which wound up going for it on fourth down two plays later, only to come up short again.
"I don't think anything could've been done," Matthews said. "He just made a great play.
"We run that seam play, and Carson always puts that on a line. It's not a ball that you want to put in the back of the end zone or high, because when it comes up, it's right on the back shoulder and you can just walk in. The DB made just a great play. He got it by his fingernail, so that's one of those plays where they got us."
Credit to the defense or not, it was another missed opportunity for the Eagles, who had plenty of them. Still, they had a chance to win it in the end, as they have in all four of their losses (see 10 observations).
The fact that the Eagles could just as easily be 5-3, 6-2 or even 7-1, but are instead sitting on a 4-4 record, is not something that's lost on Matthews.
"We have to win," Matthews said. "We've been in these situations a couple games now, so it's time for us to start winning these ball games. The game doesn't change whether it's two minutes left, down by six, or if it's the first quarter. We have to start winning these games, and that's on everybody, top to bottom."
While there are no moral victories in the NFL, there are plenty of teaching moments. Matthews said he doesn't believe his teammates are down and out or holding their heads in shame, and that they can actually learn a valuable lesson from these heartbreaking losses.
"I think the biggest thing that you learn is that same sense of urgency that you have to have at the end of the game, we have to come out with that," Matthews said. We have to come out with that same drive, that same attention to detail and that gotta-have-it mentality, we've got to go make a play right now. It comes, and lots of times it comes when we're down or late in games, and then it's too late.
"We don't need to keep putting ourselves in that same position, and when we do, it just has to be the same mentality. We just have to focus and execute."