The Philadelphia Eagles snapped a two-game losing streak behind a 34-13 thrashing of the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Thursday night.
Carson Wentz led the Eagles to a season high in the scoring column behind 278 passing yards and three touchdowns, two of which found the waiting arms of No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery. Tight end Zach Ertz nabbed the other.
The Giants, now 1-5, mustered a single trip to paydirt as Saquon Barkley (229 scrimmage yards) was the only positive on a night when Eli Manning was incapable of finding downfield success.
Time for Giants to Move On From Manning Has Never Been More Evident
It turns out Odell Beckham Jr. had a point when he criticized Manning before the Giants' Week 5 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
"Like I said, I feel like he's not going to get out the pocket," Beckham told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "He's not—we know Eli's not running it. But is it a matter-of-time issue? Can he still throw it, yeah, but it's been pretty safe and it's been, you know ... cool catching shallow [routes] and trying to take it to the house. But I'm, you know, I want to go over the top of somebody."
Against the Eagles, Beckham (six receptions, 44 yards) wasn't afforded a chance to showcase his vertical playmaking capabilities.
Manning was hesitant to challenge a shaky Eagles secondary that was burned by the Buccaneers, Titans and Vikings, instead opting for checkdowns and screen passes.
The result was a 24-of-43 effort that produced 281 yards and an interception. However, that number was misleading, considering Barkley turned his nine receptions, almost all of which came at or behind the line of scrimmage, into 99 yards.
If that trend continues, it's likely a matter of when—not if—the Giants will bench Manning for the second time in as many seasons.
The clock is ticking.
Eagles Rounding Into Form as Obvious NFC East Favorite
Must-win proclamations are always dicey this early in the season, but it's safe to say a full-on panic would have consumed the City of Brotherly Love if the Eagles had fallen flat on their faces Thursday night.
Instead, the defending champions steamrolled the Giants and improved to 3-3 following back-to-back losses against the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings.
They don't quite look like the team that thrashed opponents en route to a 13-3 finish a season ago. But if Thursday was any indication, the Eagles are ramping up their productivity bit by bit in pursuit of consecutive NFC East titles.
Wentz was sensational when he had time to breathe in the pocket, and he picked apart New York's secondary to the tune of three scores and a 122.2 passer rating—marking the second week in a row he eclipsed a tally of 115.0.
On top of that, the ground game showed encouraging life as Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement combined for 94 rushing yards after Jay Ajayi was ruled out for the remainder of the regular season with a torn ACL.
Defensively, coordinator Jim Schwartz's unit complemented steady waves of pass-rushing pressure with solid downfield coverage following complete breakdowns on the road against the Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This team is far from perfect, however. The Eagles are banged-up on the offensive line—left tackle Jason Peters left with a biceps injury and right tackle Lane Johnson played through a high-ankle sprain—and they're still not playing with the swagger they flaunted in 2017.
For now, though, it's all about making progress.
And with the Dallas Cowboys (2-3) and Washington Redskins (2-2) far from polished products, it's clear the Eagles are still entrenched as favorites in an underwhelming NFC East.
Barkley Is Only Thing Holding Giants Together
It may be generous to call the vibe that has consumed the Giants toxic.
Manning's confidence on deep throws is seemingly shot, and an inability to stretch the field has produced tremendous frustration on Beckham's part that manifested itself Thursday in the form of a sideline confrontation with an air conditioner:
As if that wasn't enough, Beckham left the field early before halftime and jogged into the locker room with the Giants offense on the field for one final play before the break:
That's ample juice to keep the New York tabloids happy for days.
But thanks to Barkley, they may have something else to chatter about—something positive.
The rookie dazzled in the divisional showdown, and he scorched the NFL's second-ranked run defense to the tune of 13 carries for 130 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown run in the third quarter:
Somehow, that wasn't even his most impressive play of the night.
Instead, that honor belonged to the No. 2 overall pick's 55-yard catch-and-run through the heart of Philadelphia's defense in the second quarter:
If you were at a loss for words, don't worry. So was everyone else.
And while everything else went wrong for the Giants, Barkley seemed to hold his head high while Beckham moped.
"As far as I can see, the leader—maybe the undisputed leader—of this team is Saquon Barkley," Fox analyst Troy Aikman said during the broadcast, according to the New York Daily News' Pat Leonard.
The rest of 2018 looks bleak, to be certain. But if Barkley has anything to say about 2019 and beyond, it won't be long before Big Blue turns the corner.
The Eagles will host the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 21. The Giants are slated for a Monday Night Football showdown with the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 22 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.