Philadelphia Eagles still very much in NFC East race after rallying to beat Giants
The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t dead yet.
In erasing a 16-point second-quarter deficit to beat the New York Giants, 25-22, the 5-6 Eagles moved within one game of the division-leading Dallas Cowboys and Washington, whose grip on the final wild-card spot is precarious at best.
Doug Pederson’s club looked like it was still nursing its Super Bowl LII hangover more than 27 minutes into Week 12, when it fell behind 19-3 on Saquon Barkley’s 51-yard scoring jaunt. In addition to a shorthanded defense offering virtually no resistance, there were self-inflicted wounds all over the place for Philly.
A Jason Kelce holding penalty nullified a long Josh Adams TD run on only the Eagles’ second offensive play. Alshon Jeffery’s offensive pass interference negated another key first down on the next possession. Carson Wentz missed a third-down read on the read option on the third series, wasting a big Corey Clement run and forcing Philly to settle for a Jake Elliott field goal.
But after Barkley sliced through his defense for the score, Wentz and Co. responded with a 75-yard TD drive, capped by Wentz finding “Mr. Everything,” Zach Ertz, for the score. Pederson dialed up a two-point conversion on a read option to Clement to make it a one-score game at 19-11, Giants.
Malcolm Jenkins would intercept Eli Manning on the Giants’ final possession of the first half, an awful decision by Manning that likely took three points off the board. But the pick, paired with the late signs of life on offense, appeared to flip a switch.
From there, an Eagles ‘D’ that allowed 346 yards before halftime (including 131 to Barkley) took over the game. Philadelphia allowed only 56 yards in the second half, when Barkley curiously only received four carries after he was virtually unstoppable in his first six quarters of the season vs. the Eagles.
Eagles DEs Michael Bennett and Chris Long delivered big sacks. LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, filling in for Jordan Hicks, had two tackles for loss. An undermanned secondary came up with enough plays.
And the new feature running back, the undrafted rookie Adams, picked up 80 of his 84 rushing yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion all after intermission to give the Eagles offense a jolt against a difficult front to run on.
Wentz, who finished 20-of-28 for 236 yards and a touchdown, wasn’t great Sunday. But he converted a critical fourth-and-1 with 2:39 remaining to Nelson Agholor to set up Elliott for the game-winning 43-yard field goal.
The Eagles arguably caught a couple breaks, not only in Barkley’s curious second-half disappearance but also with Evan Engram suffering a pre-game hamstring injury and sitting out against a Philadelphia secondary that entered Sunday without four key members, along with Hicks at linebacker.
Prior to their game-winning drive, Eagles backup CB Cre’Von LeBlanc appeared to illegally contact Odell Beckham in the end zone on a key third-down play. Eli Manning’s pass fell incomplete, and the Giants were forced to settle for a 29-yard Aldrick Rosas field goal. Giants coach Pat Shurmur also opted to go for two following the game’s first score, a 13-yard Manning-to-Barkley touchdown. Had they taken the freebie, the Eagles would’ve needed a late touchdown rather than the field goal to win.
The NFC East appears poised to potentially provide additional aid to keep Philly alive, too; the Giants did their part Sunday with an inept second half of offense. Philadelphia has both games left with Washington, beginning Monday night, before a critical two-game road stretch that takes them to Dallas and the 10-1 Rams.
The Eagles will take all the help they can get in a Super Bowl title defense season where seemingly nothing has come easy. After consecutive losses, of the one-score variety to Dallas and the worst defeat by a reigning Super Bowl champ one week later in New Orleans, Sunday’s win was a season-saver.