Eagles 38, Giants 31
There’s a new miracle at the New Meadowlands. Only this time, it’s a little easier to believe but still hard to swallow for the Giants.
DeSean Jackson was quieted as a wideout for most of the game, as he didn’t even register his first reception until the waning seconds of the third quarter. But the Eagles’ speester saved his loudest act with his only punt return of the day – a 65-yard game-winning touchdown with no time remaining – as he gave the Philadelphia Eagles an exhilarating 38-31 win over the Giants yesterday.
Philadelphia [10-4] took sole control of the NFC East with the win over a Giants team that allowed 28 points in the fourth quarter, including a Jackson return that will go down in Giants-Eagles lore.
Jackson initially bobbled the poor low liner from rookie Matt Dodge but gathered the ball and weaved and juked his way through a sea of Big Blue defenders. Prior to that, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin called a timeout to specifically give Dodge the order to punt away from Jackson but instead got burned by the erratic kick. Once the speedy Jackson recouped the muff he raced to the end zone and, with great a presence of time, ran in front of the goal line to kill every last second to make sure the game ended right then and there
Michael Vick wasn’t too shabby, either, as he engineered a comeback for the ages. If there was any doubt whether Vick is the greatest dual-threat weapon at quarterback the NFL has ever seen, then there are about 53 New York Giants who will testify on his behalf.
The Giants [9-5] lost for the sixth-consecutive time to the Eagles, as Vick had a virtuoso performance, going 21-of-35 for 242 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Vick also added 130 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Anyone who saw the first half, when the Giants jumped all over the Eagles, 24-3 at the break, couldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams that the Eagles would mount such an unbelievable comeback. Instead, it was Vick and Co. who were a fourth-quarter nightmare for Big Blue.
Should the Giants miss the playoffs, they’ll forever remember this game as the self-inflicted dagger. The Giants couldn’t put away the Eagles when they had the chance, as they were up 31-10 with nine minutes remaining. Defensive breakdowns, a stalled offense, and a surprise Eagles’ onside kick with six minutes remaining ultimately doomed Big Blue. New York uncharacteristically allowed four touchdowns in the final 7:28 to allow the heartbreaking comeback.
About the only bright spot was the play of Eli Manning who went 23-of-39 for 289 yards and a career-high tying four touchdowns. Naturally, Manning had some trouble with ball security, as he threw his league-leading 20th interception [league-leading 25th turnover of the season]. But Manning, who’s struggled with a patchwork receiving corps over the last month, managed to regroup and finally regained some semblance of chemistry with a wideout, as he connected with Mario Manningham for eight catches, 113 yards, and two touchdowns. New York will need to regain its stride in the final two weeks, as it face sthe Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins on the road.
What went wrong …
1 Kick in the pants — Philly scored 21 unanswered to tie the game up, then stopped the Giants and appeared content to go into overtime. Instead of punting it out of bounds, though, Matt Dodge kicked it to the most dangerous return man in Eagles history. DeSean Jackson bobbled the low-liner, scooped it up, found an inside seam and raced into the end zone as time expired for an improbable win.
“The young punter was told to punt it out of bounds and he got a high snap and didn’t feel like he could,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “You don’t punt into that.”
2 Catch him if you can — The Eagles came into the game averaging a league-best 403 yards per game but had just 173 at the start of the fourth quarter. Enter Michael Vick. The MVP?candidate hit Brent Celek on a 65-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 31-17. Then the Giants were caught off guard on an onside kick, which led to a Vick 4-yard touchdown run. After another Eagles’ stop, Vick chewed up the defense and found Jeremy Maclin for a 13-yard score to tie it up with 1:16 left.
3 Hit a wall — The quick and undersized Eagles front four dominated the Giants’ rushing attack for the second straight game. Neither Brandon Jacobs [12 carries for 34 yards] nor Ahmad Bradshaw [19 carries for 66 yards] could get anything done on the ground. Maybe if they could have, the Giants could have run out the clock or better yet, produce a game-winning drive.