After their debacle against the Miami Dolphins in Week 13, the Philadelphia Eagles had one job to do on Monday night against the New York Giants: Just win.
If the Eagles defeated the Giants, they would not only snap their three-game losing streak but be tied for first place in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys.
It was anything but easy for the Eagles, who looked lifeless and were outplayed by the Giants in the first half on Monday night.
The offense could not get anything going against one of the league’s worst passing defenses and lost starting right tackle Lane Johnson and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to injuries.
Quarterback Carson Wentz completed just 58-percent of his passes for 97 yards, was sacked two times, and couldn’t find the end zone.
The defense, however, started strong just as they did against the Dolphins. But then cornerback Ronald Darby gave up two big two touchdown receptions to Giants rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton.
At that moment, it appeared as if Eli Manning, who had a record of 1-9 in his last 10 starts against the Eagles, was going to end Philly’s playoff hopes.
The veteran quarterback gashed Philly open for 179 yards and two touchdowns while the Giants outgained the Eagles 226-116 and were up 17-3 at the half.
But when the game moved to the second half, the Eagles looked like a completely different team, despite being down 14 points.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles’ defense did not give up any more big plays through the air and even sniffed out another trick play that the Giants had dialed up.
In the second half alone, Philly’s defense made adjustments and held the Giants’ offense to only 29 yards.
With basically no wide receivers for Wentz to utilize, the Eagles received major contributions from unlikely heroes, who helped them capture the 23-17 comeback overtime victory.
For starters, head coach Doug Pederson and Wentz decided to go more uptempo, which got the offense in rhythm and allowed them to hit on some big plays.
They came from first-year running back Boston Scott, who was signed off of the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad at this time last year.
The 5-foot-6 running back gave the Eagles’ offense a spark starting late in the third quarter. Scott scored a two-yard rushing touchdown to cut New York’s deficit to seven points (17-10).
The former Louisiana Tech standout was frequently used in both the run and passing games, racking up 128 total yards on 16 touches. The former UDFA running back wasn’t shellshocked by the primetime moment.
“Just do my job,” Scott said (h/t team’s website). “Every week we prepare. Duce (Staley, assistant head coach/running backs) does a great job of preparing us. Everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the active roster or on the practice squad, he does a great job preparing us for whatever may come. That’s the nature of the NFL. You never know.”
They also came from wide receivers Greg Ward Jr., J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and hybrid tight end Josh Perkins.
Ward Jr. and Perkins were recently promoted over the last few weeks, but you could not tell because of Wentz’s making terrific throws.
Ward Jr. had four receptions (nine targets) for 34 yards, while Arcega-Whiteside had two receptions (three targets) for 29 yards. Perkins added five receptions (five targets) for 37 yards.
After the game, Wentz spoke about the young players stepping up at the skill positions and offensive line in the second half.
“Obviously, we dealt with some injuries and some other guys stepping up and making plays and that was huge. You’ve got (tight end Joshua Perkins), you’ve got Ward, you’ve got J.J. (Arcega-Whiteside), (right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai) is out there,” he said.
“You’ve got guys all over the field, Boston Scott. Guys stepping up and making plays. I think that’s huge for each of those individual’s confidence, and ours as an offense and as a team and each of those guys are going to keep making plays and that’s big for us.”
If the Eagles want to keep their playoff hopes alive and win the NFC East, it will be up to Wentz and company to deliver them.