After three straight losses, the Philadelphia Eagles desperately needed a win on Sunday, and it didn’t matter how they came by it. Sloppy or not, fans will no doubt take a 36-21 win over the division rival New York Giants in Week 5—especially when it elevates the Birds to first place in the NFC East.
Sloppy was definitely the applicable word though for a game in which the Eagles settled for five field goals and briefly lost the lead in the second half against an opponent still searching for their first win. Were it not for the Giants’ four turnovers, the outcome easily could have been in jeopardy.
Philly hung on and moves to 2-3 for the season, but there is still plenty of work to be done. While their performance might have been good enough to defeat New York, few units stood out as major strengths in the victory. First place or no, the Eagles have a way to go to truly separate themselves entirely from the likes of cellar dwellers such as the Giants.
Considering the backup quarterback took over midway through the game for the Eagles and they still won, the level of play under center had to be considered a huge positive for Philadelphia.
Michael Vick wasn’t necessarily accurate delivering the football, completing just six-of-14 passes for 105 yards, but he ran seven times for 79 yards. When Vick came down with a hamstring injury, Nick Foles replaced the four-time Pro Bowler, hitting on 16-of-25 attempts for 197 yards and two beautiful touchdowns.
Vick certainly seemed to have the game well within his command before exiting, but it’s got to be comforting for Birds fans to know Foles can be counted on in a pinch. The second-year pro actually led the team back from a deficit at one point in the third quarter.
Most important of all: neither quarterback committed a turnover. The nice thing about this QB controversy—if there was one—is both guys give the Eagles a chance to win.
The unfortunate side effect to Mike Vick’s departure is LeSean McCoy seemed to suffer as a result. Believe it or not, Shady finished with fewer rushing yards (45) than he had when Vick exited (47).
McCoy was a factor in the passing game for the first time in weeks though. The All-Pro back hauled in six passes for 46 yards on eight targets.
Neither Bryce Brown nor Chris Polk were especially effective with the ball in their hands either. The two backs combined to carry seven times for 14 yards, while Brown added a reception for six more.
None of the backs put the ball on the carpet however, so despite a quiet day on the ground, it was not necessarily a poor outing.
The good news for the Eagles is DeSean Jackson snapped out of his funk. After being held in check the past two weeks, Jackson posted seven receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. The double move to slip past his man in the end zone was absolutely gorgeous.
Once again though, that’s about the only decent thing you can say about Philly’s receivers. The lack of production from anybody not named Sean in this offense is astounding.
Jason Avant had three catches for 33 yards, which is even less impressive given he was targeted seven times. Riley Cooper on the other hand was held without a reception completely, so I guess you would take Avant’s day.
Should be interesting to see what happens if DeSean winds up on Revis Island in Tampa Bay next week.
Good to see some moderate strides being made in tight end production against New York.
Rookie Zach Ertz was involved early, catching two balls for 38 yards. Brent Celek had his best game since Week 1 by far, hauling in three passes for 47 and laying out in the end zone for a touchdown grab.
Celek seems to have a rapport with Nick Foles going back to last season, and you could tell the two haven't missed a beat. The tight ends weren’t taking over or anything, but they certainly had a positive impact on the game.
Strange game for Philadelphia’s offensive line. We’ve been growing accustomed to the unit dominating in the ground attack, but struggling somewhat in pass protection. The opposite was largely the case in New York.
The Birds had trouble opening up running lanes for LeSean McCoy all day, and once Michael Vick went out holes were virtually non-existent. Eagles backs carried 27 times for 60 yards—a meager 2.2 average.
Then again, whether it was Vick or Nick Foles, the quarterback generally had time in the pocket to scan the field and make sound decisions with the football. The Giants had just one sack the entire afternoon.
Of course, it does help a bit when a guy like Foles is back there getting rid of the ball quickly.
There were still some false starts and procedure penalties the offensive line needs to clean up, and the offensive line was far from perfect in pass protection, but they got the job done against some big-name pass rushers on Sunday.
New York ran the ball 17 times for an average of 3.1 yards per carry, with one of the primary reasons being they just could not get any push at the line of scrimmage. And the holes that were there closed quickly.
The Eagles weren’t making a ton of plays in the Giants’ backfield, but they didn't have to. Cedric Thornton and Isaac Sopoaga each had a tackle for loss, Fletcher Cox managed to hit Eli Manning once, and Bennie Logan registered his first sack in the NFL.
Most of all, those guys were just good at filling their gaps. Of course, it was a lot easier stopping the run once David Wilson was lost to injury and all that remained was the fossil known as Brandon Jacobs. Solid effort nonetheless.
For once Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans didn’t fill up the stat sheet with meaningless tackles down the field. The Giants’ longest run of the day was seven yards, and Eli Manning was hitting his wide receivers, so there weren’t a ton of plays to be made in the middle.
Kendricks and Ryans did a nice job cleaning up the run though. Kendricks also came up with an interception on a pass batted at the line of scrimmage. It was a right place, right time deal, but the play swung the momentum in Philly’s favor permanently.
Trent Cole wasn't much of a factor on the outside, but Connor Barwin was a beast on the other side. The Giants could not run the ball at Barwin, he did seem to have some success pressuring the quarterback, and a quick reaction nearly resulted in a pick at the line of scrimmage.
Eli Manning may have thrown for 334 yards and two touchdowns, but don’t let the big numbers fool you. The Eagles cornerbacks gave the Giants receivers all they could handle on Sunday.
Bradley Fletcher in particular had a massive game, coming up with a whopping five pass breakups. There were at least two potentially huge plays down the field in which Fletcher literally had a hand in forcing an incompletion.
Cary Williams got picked on a little bit on the opposite side, but stood tall in the end with an interception. Brandon Boykin came up with a pick as well, and played a role in forcing another off of the blitz—seemed like he was everywhere in the second half.
According to the Fox broadcast team, the Eagles were intent on taking big plays out of the Giants offense. So naturally Hakeem Nicks hauls in a 49-yard pass on New York’s opening possession, a play in which Nate Allen got lost in coverage.
Beyond that play, the long gain of the day for the G-men was 26 yards, so mission accomplished otherwise. If nothing else, the double teams on Victor Cruz were successful, as the slot receiver was limited to five catches for 48 yards.
I wouldn’t say the safeties had a great day though, as the Giants receivers bailed them out a few times. There were multiple instances where Philly’s safeties were beat over the top, but the pass fell harmlessly incomplete for one reason or another.
Allen and rookie Earl Wolff were each credited with a pass breakup in an otherwise quiet game.
After missing a field goal in three consecutive games, Alex Henery was perfect on Sunday, nailing all five field goals he attempted. I wouldn’t go so far to say all his problems are solved—his longest was 42 yards. Solid game nonetheless.
Donnie Jones pinned the Giants twice inside their own 20-yard line on six tries, including once on the 1-yard line.
No big returns to speak of, although they didn’t concede any for the first time in weeks either. All-around solid afternoon despite nothing extraordinary occurring. Come to think of it, maybe that was for the best.