Team Gather around Desean Jackson after he returns a punt for win
The Philadelphia Eagles headed up the turnpike, on Sunday, to the New York Giants’ new stadium for the first time since being built, with the chance of becoming the leaders of the NFC East.
Overcast skies hovering over Meadowlands stadium, with a chill in the air, made the setting for what was to be a great clash between the Eagles’ league-leading offense and the Giants’ second-ranked defense.
The Eagles came out early defending against the run. The team’s rookie "Mike" linebacker, Jamar Chaney, wasted no time ensuring his presence was felt as he penetrated the offensive line and made his way to the Giants running backs like a pro.
When the Eagles received the ball, Michael Vick threw an early interception while trying to avoid the Giants pass rush, but the Giants were not able to capitalize on the turnover.
A couple possessions later, Mario Manningham broke away from Dimitri Patterson for a 32-yard touchdown reception. This was just the beginning of a field day against the Birds.
As for the Eagles offense, they didn’t establish any consistency in the first half on offense, and the Giants made them look like an offense that fans are not accustomed to seeing.
They just could not produce a successful drive and couldn’t generate any points, or first downs, on their drives in the first half, reason being that the defensive line for the Giants was having its way with the Eagles offensive line. The Giants defense would not let up—they relentlessly swarmed to the ball and putt pressure on Vick. In addition, their defensive backs played single-tight-pressed coverage on DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Unfortunately, both receivers could not initially produce catches.
Everything seemed to be going the Giants’ way and the Eagles’ chances of extending their win streak in the Meadowlands looked desolate to say the least.
Fortunately, the Eagles were able to make their way down the field far enough for a successful field goal, but Manningham continued to showcase his abilities.
He gathered another touchdown, this one for 33 yards. The Eagles’ task of controlling the duo of Hakeem Nicks and Manningham proved to be complex very early in the game. They couldn’t be stopped!
The Giants kicked a field goal with less than two minutes left in the first half. On the ensuing possession, with 20 seconds left before halftime, Maclin caught the ball and fumbled it with nine seconds left on the clock, and the Giants recovered the ball on the Eagles 8-yard line. Manning threw a strike to Nicks for a touchdown, and the Giants went into the locker room at halftime with a 24-3 lead.
The 21-point deficit looked insurmountable to overcome, but many teams have overcome such leads and won or at least tied the game before falling to defeat.
Flashback to October, 2003—the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led the whole game against the Indianapolis Colts and by 21 with 4:00 left in the fourth quarter. The Colts found a way to score three touchdowns and send the game into overtime, winning by a final score of 38-35. Indianapolis became the first team in NFL history to win after trailing by 21 or more points with less than four minutes to play in regulation, according to YahooSports.com.
In the third quarter of this game, the Eagles caught a break when Chaney forced a fumble from Manningham that the defense recovered. This was the one play that the Eagles needed to try and get a momentum swing. The Eagles capitalized with an eight-yard TD to Maclin, which made the score 24-10 Giants.
A couple possessions later, DeSean Jackson fell to the ground, and the referees said he was untouched. Replays showed that it looked as though he was touched on his way to the ground, but the ball came out and was deemed a fumble, recovered by New York. Reid did not challenge the play, which was a pivotal moment, and what looked to be the final dagger because the Giants scored on the ensuing drive making the score 31-10 Giants.
At this point, all hopes of winning a sixth consecutive game against the Giants seemed dim.
On the next drive, New York chose to bring a blitz, which resulted in Brent Celek receiving a short pass and scampering down the field for a 65-yard score, 31-17 Giants.
Then David Akers kicked an on-side kick that the Giants special teams were not prepared for, and Riley Cooper gained the ball back for a drive that could potentially tie the game.
The Eagles proceeded to take the ball down the field as Vick ran twice in the drive and got a TD on his second run of the drive...31-24 Giants. The Birds began to chip away at what was once a 21-point lead.
With 3:01 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles needed one TD to tie, with no timeouts left.
On the team’s next drive, Maclin scored a touchdown with a strike from Vick that tied the score with 1:16 left in regulation.
The Eagles offense took the field in the fourth quarter and manhandled the Giants defense as they allowed the comfortable lead to be obliterated—an unlikely situation for a second-ranked defense. This team was resurrected on both sides of the ball.
Eli was sacked during the Giants' next possession, and the Giants were set to punt with 14 seconds left. Being as though Jackson is an excellent returner, one would believe that Matt Dodge, the Giants rookie punter, would kick the ball out of bounds and send the game into overtime. Instead, Dodge shanked the kick, which resulted in a line-drive punt to Jackson. Jackson fumbled the ball, picked it up and the rest is history.
He shed a couple of Giants special teams players and a huge seam opened up as if someone parted the Red Sea. Jackson burst through the hole like a bolt of lightning, leaving Dodge at his feet as the only player who could potentially bring him down, but only green grass was in front of Jackson as he held the ball in the air with triumph and entered the end zone for the victory.
“At halftime I didn’t think this could be possible,” Jackson said to a FOX reporter after the game.
This team’s undying determination and will to overcome such odds in a game where all seemed lost has proved how big each and every player's heart is. The only title fitting for such a feat is “The Miracle in the New Meadowlands.”
History of Miracle in the Meadowlands
The “Miracle in the Meadowlands” phenomena began in 1978 when the New York Giants quarterback fumbled the exchange to his running back, and Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Herm Edwards recovered the fumble as the ball hopped into his hands and he sprinted to the end zone for the winning score.
The second “Meadowlands Miracle” was in 2003 when the Eagles were trailing 10-7 with 1:20 left in the game and Brian Westbrook returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown, which led the Eagles to victory.
This comeback and culmination to the Eagles-Giants game in the 2010 season adds the cherry to the top of all of the Eagles sagas in the Meadowlands.
Being down as much as 21, people say that this wasn’t supposed to occur. Westbrook wasn’t supposed to run back the punt return, and Edwards was not supposed to have a chance to recover a fumble for the winning score. That’s why in their own right, each game’s conclusion is considered nothing less than a miracle.
Deciding Factor to the season
Since Vick took over the helm as quarterback on the Eagles offense, the offense is playing at a top-notch level and is in the top five in numerous league categories. LeSean McCoy is over 1,000 yards for the year; Vick is close to throwing 3,000 yards and is involved in talks for MVP; and Jackson is over 1,000 yards receiving with Maclin trailing not too far behind. This is a Super Bowl-talented offense, but the defense does not match.
As of late, the defense has gelled together and has found a way to stop the run, but the rest of the defense still has much room to improve. They rank 21st in the NFL in points allowed, 12th in yards allowed, 22nd in pass yards allowed and 11th in rush defense. Subtracted from this Eagles defense are Stewart Bradley and Nate Allen after sustaining season-ending injuries. Kurt Coleman will have to fill the void left by Nate Allen, and Jamar Chaney has already made himself comfortable as the middle linebacker. This team has to find chemistry on defense if it has hopes of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February.