New York—In another game showcasing a team that no one gave a chance of winning, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 23-11 Sunday afternoon, sending Eli Manning to join older brother Peyton on the outside looking in.
Older brother Peyton was the first to fall, losing to the surprising San Diego Chargers 23-17 in the wild card round. Peyton threw for 310 yards and a touchdown in that effort, but got no support from his running game.
The Colts defense was also taken aback by the diminutive Darren Sproles, who racked up a career-high 238 all-purpose yards en route to the Chargers' victory.
Eli was as bad as his brother was good, completing only 15-of-29 passes for a pedestrian 169 yards and two interceptions. The Eagles defense repeatedly held on third and fourth down, holding the Giants to 18 and 33 percent respectively.
The only scoring in the game for the Giants came from kicker John Carney, and even that wasn't easy to come by. Carney missed two of five attempts, missing from 46 in the second quarter and 47 in the third.
New York got on the board first with a 22-yard boot by Carney to take a 3-0 lead. But Philadelphia answered two series later after an Eli Manning interception, and the Eagles took a 7-3 lead.
Donavon McNabb provided the Giants the only two points that Carney didn't score when he was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone early in the second quarter. Both teams provided a field goal apiece as the half drew to a close, and the teams went into the seventh-inning stretch with a score of 10-8.
Excuse me there; I got a little confused by the score. For a second I thought I was watching the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.
Back to football: both teams struggled offensively in the third quarter, with each team only able to score a field goal apiece as the defenses stepped in to keep the game close. Philadelphia opened the fourth quarter with a one-yard strike by McNabb to Brent Selek, and suddenly the Eagles were in control.
David Akers put three more points on the board to run the score to 23-11, and the Giants were through. One interception and one fumble later—again, a game where late turnovers destroyed scoring opportunities—and Philadelphia sent the defending champion Giants into the offseason.
Touted most of the year as "the best team in the NFL," the Giants at times looked inept. There is no solid data to show the impact of Plaxico Burress's absence, but without his go-to guy Eli Manning was a non-factor. Even a combined 138 rushing yards from Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward couldn't overcome the defensive effort by the Eagles.
Philadelphia's effort mimics that of the Arizona Cardinals in showing that come playoff time, everybody starts at 0-0. There is no margin of error in the playoffs. One loss and your season is over.
Philadelphia wanted it more, plain and simple. Now they get to go prove it again against the Cardinals, a team that with a mascot that is, according to David Letterman, "the fiercest robin-sized bird" in existence.
Come next Sunday we get to see who's talons are sharper.