Eagles hang on, clinch first round playoff bye over lowly Giants - Metro US

Eagles hang on, clinch first round playoff bye over lowly Giants

Forget the Eagles and Giants’ win-loss records. A classic NFC East battle broke out in East Rutherford Sunday, as the now 12-2 Eagles had their way with the now 2-12 Giants, 34-29 in Week 15.

Nick Foles — starting the rest of the season for the injured Carson Wentz — threw four touchdown passes while Eli Manning collected an eye-popping 427 yards in the air (with 139 of them to Sterling Shepard) in a duel of potent offenses. 

Clinging to a two-point lead, the Eagles failed to find the end zone in the red zone late in the fourth, settling for a field goal and a 34-29 lead with 3:55 to go.

With a chance to lead the Giants down the field, Manning was able to draw two penalties passing the ball and getting New York to the 50 yard line quickly. Three completions put the Giants inside the 10 inside the one minute mark. In a bizarre play-call, the Giants ran the ball on third down and failed to find the end zone. Paired with a false start penalty, the Giants had a make-or-break fourth and goal from the 11-yardline. Manning’s pass went through the end zone. Philly clinched the win when, after a three-and-out, Manning’s last ditch effort with eight second to go didn’t find the end zone.

Right out of the locker room, New York marched down the field (for the first time all season in their opening drive) on a 13-play 75-yard drive to take a 6-0 lead. Orleans Darkwa found paydirt a few plays after a third down holding call gave the Giants new life. A blocked extra point softened the celebration just a little bit.

On the ensuing Eagles drive a costly Giants penalty served the same purpose, as pass interference inside the five yardline put the Eagles in a first and goal and a play later Foles (4-for-4 on the drive) connected with Alshon Jeffery in the back of the end zone to hop to a 7-6 lead.

A counter punch came as the Giants took advantage of some soft play in the Eagles’ secondary. Manning led another march downfield as a wide open Tavarres King caught a touchdown pass to put the G-men up 13-7.

The first team to blink was Philly, which after recovering a Olivier Vernon forced strip sack, failed to convert on third and long one play later and was forced to punt. The Giants made them pay, finding Sterling Shepard on a 67-yard slant to up their lead to an impressive 20-7 after just 16 minutes of play.

Manning, after throwing for 208 yards in three drives, finally made a mistake as Ronald Darby picked him off late in the second quarter. Plays later, Foles hit Ertz over the middle to chip away at the lead, 20-14. New York’s special teams made the next mistake as Philadelphia was able to block a Giants punt and take a 21-20 lead after a Foles-to-Trey Burton connection wide open in the end zone took all the wind out of New York’s sails. A furious push for a field goal did get the Giants back on top 23-21 before the 30-minute horn.

A chip shot field goal on the heals of a 64-yard drive put the Eagles back ahead 24-23 to open the second and after a short Giants punt Foles hooked up for touchdown No. 4 with Zach Ertz to get the NFC East champs ahead by eight, 31-23.

The Eagles committed an unforced error by getting penalized on a potential Giants punt — which gave Manning the opening to find King on a 57-yard touchdown sprint. A failed two-point try had Philly’s lead at 31-29 as the third wound down.

With an opportunity to take a lead in the fourth, Malcolm Jenkins found a way to get his body in front of a Aldrick Rosas field goal try. The block preserved a two-point lead.

Sunday’s close finish comes after the Eagles and Giants’ first clash, a Week 3 Eagles victory on a 61-yard Jake Elliott field goal as time expired.

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