Giants earn second win of season in ugly one with Eagles
The last time the Giants faced the Eagles, they lost to their backup quarterback. That wasn’t to be the case this time, though, as they stifled their NFC East rival in a 15-7 win.
It’s the second win in a row for a Giants (2-6) team that started the season 0-6 and will now enjoy their bye week on a two-game winning streak. The Eagles (3-5), meanwhile, have now lost 10 straight games at home.
Big Blue was led by solid special teams play (save for a botched snap on a punt), as well as a defense that suffocated the Eagles’ uptempo offense that began with Michael Vick at quarterback but finished with rookie Matt Barkley at the helm. Vick was taken out of the game after tweaking an already-injured hamstring with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. Barkley was clearly overwhelmed, finishing 17-of-26 for 158 yards and an interception and a fumble.
The Giants defense was aided by an efficient offense, led by Eli Manning (25-of-39 for 246 yards, no touchdowns but no interceptions), and special teams that had a great bounce-back game following a tough two-game stretch. Kicker Josh Brown accounted for all of the Giants’ points as he tallied a career-best 5-of-5 on field-goal attempts, while punter Steve Weatherford nailed great directional punts all afternoon to neutralize Philadelphia’s electric return man, DeSean Jackson. Weatherford’s shining moment came on a 68-yard directional punt midway through the third quarter that pinned the Eagles inside their own 5-yard line, which was aided by Jackson mishandling the punt.
The Giants have now gone two straight games without a giveaway, while the defense has held opponents scoreless for two and a half straight games, registered a couple of takeaways and finally applied pressure to an opposing team’s passer.
They showed there may still be life in their season after all.
What went right …
1. They need backup
The Giants’ defense continues to ascend, as it stifled the uptempo Eagles’ offense — particularly the passing game. Vick (6-of-9, 31 yards and an interception) looked rusty after missing a couple of weeks with a tweaked hamstring. He misfired on easy throws, threw an interception on Philadelphia’s third offensive play and almost lost possession inside the Eagles’ own 10-yard line when he was strip-sacked by safety Antrel Rolle. Vick recovered, but that was about the only highlight of his afternoon. Barkley didn’t fare any better when he filled in for good late in the second quarter. Barkley’s first play was a bobbled shotgun snap, which he recovered. But he eventually gave away the ball for good later in the drive when the ball was strip-sacked at the Giants’ 11-yard line by cornerback Terrell Thomas and recovered by linebacker Jacquian Williams at the 1:05 mark of the second quarter. Barkley was moving the ball well until that turnover, but the giveaway was a microcosm of the Eagles’ afternoon.
2. Slim Shady’s slim pickings
Philadelphia’s passing game wasn’t the only facet that was severely outplayed, as the running game was also inferior. LeSean McCoy, widely thought of as one of the league’s best dual-threat running backs, was a non-factor. He tallied 48 yards rushing on 15 attempts and also had just 18 receiving yards on four receptions. The 19 total touches were actually on par with the Giants’ rushing duo of Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox. And while neither will be mistaken for McCoy, as a tandem they had far greater impact on the game. Peyton had 70 hard-fought rushing yards on 20 carries, 15 receiving yards and picked up the blitz as well as any Big Blue back this season. Cox also had a solid afternoon as he had 30 total yards on 10 touches, including a key 11-yard reception to extend a scoring drive.
3. Feel the (pass) rush
The Giants entered the game with just six sacks but finally cracked double digits on the season as they harassed Vick and Barkley for 4 1/2 sacks. Big Blue now has 10 1/2 on the season. Rolle got things rolling on the Eagles’ second drive when he took down Vick on a delayed safety blitz, while also almost recovering the fumbled ball at the 8-yard line. Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka also finally got into the books when he ended the Eagles’ opening drive of the second half when Philadelphia was marching. The sack pushed the Eagles back to almost midfield and forced Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly to eschew a 60-yard field goal attempt to go for it on fourth-and-10. They failed and the Giants’ defense never looked back.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.