Despite the Giants taking an L on Monday Night Football, Sterling Shepard tells TMZ Sports the game was extra special ... because he got to catch a pass from Eli Manning again!!

The 2-time Super Bowl champ was under center against the Eagles after his replacement, Daniel Jones, went down with an ankle injury last week ... throwing for 203 yards and 2 TDs.

4 of Eli's completions went to Shepard ... and the 26-year-old receiver tells us he didn't know if he'd share the field with his longtime teammate again.

"It was awesome," Sterling says.