The New York Giants remained alive in the NFC East race heading into Game 256 of the NFL regular season, needing the Philadelphia Eagles to beat the Washington Football Team in the season's final game to capture the division title -- albeit with a 6-10 record. The Eagles did the Giants no favors by pulling Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter of a 17-14 game, with an opportunity to upset Washington still in play (Philadelphia fell to Washington 20-14).
Giants players were upset at Eagles coach Doug Pederson's move, which sparked controversy throughout the league on the obvious intention to lose for a better draft pick -- even if Pederson said he was playing to win.
As for Giants coach Joe Judge? He wasn't too pleased with the Eagles' behavior.
"The one thing to keep in mind with this season is -- we had a lot of people opt in. Coaches, players, that includes family members as well," Judge said Monday, via SNY Giants. "To look at a group of men that I ask to give me effort on a day-in, day-out basis and empty the tank -- and I can look at them in the eye and ensure them everything I can to put them at a competitive advantage and put them in a position of strength. To me, you don't want to disrespect those players and their effort and disrespect the game.
"The sacrifices that they made to go to work every day and test before coming in, to sit in meetings spaced out and wear a mask -- to wear face shields over those masks -- to go through extensive protocols, to travel in unconventional ways, to get text messages at 6:30 in the morning telling them practice is going to be canceled, to tell them please don't have your families over for Thanksgiving, to tell them please avoid Christmas gatherings.
"There's a number of sacrifices made by players and coaches in this league. There's a number of sacrifices that come along with the family members connected with them. To disrespect the effort that everybody put forward to make this season a success for the National Football League, to disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and not doing anything to help those players win. We will never do that as long as I am the head coach of the New York Giants."
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The Giants have a right to be upset, but also finished 6-10 on the season in one of the worst divisions in NFL history. They also led the Eagles 21-10 in Week 7 with 6:14 to play -- and lost 22-21. That would have been the seventh win New York needed to capture the division (Giants swept Washington this season).
Judge and the Giants missed out on a playoff berth, which will only intensify the rivalry with the Eagles going forward. The lost opportunity will certainly be motivation for New York.