Giants: Trevin Wade replaces Eli Apple, saves game
EAST RUTHERFORD — A white cowboy hat sat atop his head.
Black cowboy boots adorned his feet.
Dressed like the native Texan he is, Trevin Wade made the short walk from the Giants’ locker room out into the night, having just ridden to his team’s rescue.
The journeyman cornerback replaced first-round draft pick Eli Apple, who was benched in the third quarter for poor tackling and mental mistakes. And Wade found himself one-on-one Sunday against the Eagles’ best receiver, Jordan Matthews, with the game on the line.
Less than 90 seconds remained. The Eagles were threatening from the Giants’ 17-yard line.
And Wade knew the football was coming his way on fourth down.
“Who are you going to go to?” said Wade, 27, playing with his third team in his fifth NFL season. “You got Rabbit [Janoris Jenkins], DRC [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] … and then I just came in. So they’re going to come at me.”
His tight coverage on Matthews’ fade pattern in the end zone forced an incompletion on the Eagles’ final offensive play to preserve the Giants’ 28-23 victory.
Wade’s heroics came after Apple’s struggles. The rookie failed to tackle Ryan Mathews on his 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The score cut the Giants’ lead to 14-10.
Apple then committed a costly penalty on the first drive of the second half, flagged for being off-sides at the Eagles’ 47 and handing them a first down. Later in that same drive, he missed a tackle on Nelson Agholor’s 23-yard reception that set up another Philadelphia touchdown.
That score cut the Giants’ lead to 21-17. The coaches had seen enough, and Apple was benched for the first time in his career, he said.
It was a difficult end to a difficult week for Apple, the 10th overall selection in April’s draft.
He unwittingly found himself caught in a controversy between his mother, Annie, and his team. She accused the organization in her column for SI.com of “leaning heavily” on her son to control her criticism of the Giants’ handling of the Josh Brown domestic violence saga.
On Thursday, Apple faced a barrage of questions about her and declared his mother’s accusation was “definitely false.”
Standing in front of his locker Sunday, Apple denied the controversy was a distraction.
“Nah, it was not like that. It was all me,” he said. “Sometimes you just try and do too much, and [you’re] thinking too much.”
But Apple admitted his performance was “definitely tough” to take, especially in an NFC East showdown among playoff contenders.
“You don’t want to let nobody down,” he said. “You don’t want to let the team down, yourself down.’’
Apple’s struggles ran so deep that when he was asked what happened on “the missed tackle,” he responded, “Which one?”
As he stepped away from his locker, Apple said he couldn’t wait until Monday night, when the Giants host Cincinnati, to put this game in the past.
Then he stopped walking.
“I can’t wait until the next practice,” he said.