Losers of two straight and three of their last four, the Eagles’ entered Sunday’s game against the New York Giants needing a win to keep their season alive.
So what happened? They promptly fall behind by 16 points late in the first half, but showed plenty of pluck and perseverance in rising from the mat to score a 25-22 win on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Jake Elliott’s 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds remaining provided the margin of victory. Last year, Elliott made a club-record 61-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Giants at the Linc.
It was the Eagles’ fifth straight win over their NFC East rivals from just up the New Jersey Turnpike and boosted their record to 5-6, just one game off the lead in the division. Both the Cowboys and Redskins are 6-5 atop the NFC East. The Eagles will host Washington next Monday night before heading to Dallas the following week. The Giants had won two straight coming into the game, but the loss left them at 3-8 and going nowhere fast, except into the top of the 2019 NFL Draft.
“This was a big game for us,” said quarterback Carson Wentz, “obviously in terms of the division standings and all that fun stuff, but really mentally to show the resilience that we did. To get down early like we did, then to battle back, just really builds a lot of confidence … to come from behind and get it done I think will speak volumes about our confidence going forward.”
Wentz engineered the game-winning drive after the Eagles got the ball back with 5:49 to play and right after Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas kicked a 29-yard field goal to even the game at 22-22. They converted a fourth-and-two from the New York 42-yard line on the drive, finding Nelson Agholor over the middle for a 12-yard pickup.
It was Agholor’s first catch in two weeks and the only time the receiver was targeted all day.
The Eagles drained the clock to the two-minute warning. The Giants burned two of their timeouts earlier in the half and had only left, allowing the Eagles to run the clock all the way down to 25 seconds before Elliott’s game-winning kick.
“I was zoned in,” said Elliott of his game-winner. “I was over by the kicking net (before he took the field) trying to hit one or two more balls to make myself feel comfortable and get a feel for what the wind was doing so I could make a good kick.”
Undrafted rookie running back Josh Adams, who grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia before heading off to star at Notre Dame, played a big role in the victory as well, finishing with 22 carries for 84 yards, both career highs. His one-yard touchdown with 10:11 to play in the fourth quarter gave the Eagles their first lead of the game at 20-19.
He then ran the two-point conversion in to extend the advantage to 22-19. It was also the second straight game Adams scored a rushing touchdown. His 28-yard burst was the Eagles’ lone score in last week 48-7 loss at New Orleans.
“This one definitely feels better,” said Adams. “My first home touchdown, so I would say this one actually feels like my first touchdown. It felt great to just be able to play in front of my family, a lot of my friends. It’s a blessing.”
Wentz rebounded from a three-interception game against the Saints by completing 20 of 28 throws for 236 yards and 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz with just 64 seconds left in the first half.
The touchdown cut into the Giants’ 19-3 lead and came on the ensuing possession after Saquon Barkley ripped off a 51-yard touchdown run with 4:06 to go in the second quarter.
Cutting the deficit to 19-11 just before halftime was big for the Eagles. Ertz’s 15-yard touchdown was his sixth of the season, all of which have come in the red zone. The Eagles went for two on the conversion and made it on an option pitch from Wentz to running back Corey Clement (five carries, 45 yards; two catches 31 yards).
The Giants had their way with the Eagles in the first half, scoring on their first four possessions and racking up 346 yards of offense.
The only drive they didn’t score on was at the end of the half when Malcolm Jenkins intercepted Eli Manning after New York had reach Philly 27.
It was the Eagles' first interception since the last time the teams met, back on Oct. 11 when Kamu Grugier-Hill picked Manning in the first quarter of what was a 34-13 win that night at MetLife Stadium.
“He was back there playing soft, not trying to give up the touchdown,” said Manning of Jenkins’ interception, which came at the 2-yard line. “I saw him back there. Bad decision.”
The Eagles’ secondary was without three starting cornerbacks due to injury and were forced to play with three corners who weren’t on the roster a month ago.
“Knowing they were struggling in the secondary (with injuries) I personally would have loved to attack them,” said Giants receiver Odell Beckham, who had five catches for 85 yards. “But that wasn’t in our game plan.”
The second half was a different story for New York’s offense, as the Eagles defense stiffened in a big way. They held New York to minus-7 yards in the third quarter and just 56 yards in the second half with just three first downs.
“We were kind of on our heels the whole first half,” said Jenkins. “It just got to the point where we said, look, we know we have guys in the back end that are scrambling a little bit. The Giants are going hurry-up offense, it’s putting us in a bind to communicate, it’s loud, so just give us something simple and we’ll put the pressure on our D line to take over.
“Once we did that we were able to settle down on the outside, stop the run a little bit and allow our front four to pass rush and they started hitting the quarterback. All of a sudden those third-and-threes turned into third-and-seven-and-plusses and we’re off the field and the momentum starts to change.”
The Eagles got sacks from Michael Bennett, who now has a team-high 6.5, and Chris Long in the second half. Fletcher Cox also hit Manning three times. Cre’Von LeBlanc, part of the Eagles’ rebuilt secondary, made a huge play defending Beckham on an end zone throw by Manning from the Eagles’ 11. LeBlanc knocked the pass away, though he may have gotten away with a hold just prior to the throw.
“Everybody in the stadium knew where the ball was going, that was to Odell, one-on-one backside,” said LeBlanc, who started the season with the Lions, playing three games before being released.
“He just came up vertically into me, created contact, tried to push me outside leverage and I squeezed it from outside in and Eli threw one high. He was trying to get good position, I’m trying to get good position, that’s football 101.”