Midway through the second quarter on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles trailed the New York Giants 19-3 with a season on the brink.
Things looked bleak. No doubt about it. A must-win game was going the other way.
And then, it turned around.
Momentum turned in the Eagles’ direction as they put together a six-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard Carson Wentz touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz, and as Corey Clement added the two-point conversion, the Eagles had a pulse.
A long, uphill climb of a season boiled down to the second half, during which the Eagles dominated New York and won 25-22 as Jake Elliott’s 43-yard field goal with 22 seconds remaining provided the winning points.
The season is saved. At 5-6, the Eagles are one game behind Dallas and Washington in the NFC East and they host the Redskins on Monday night and then travel to Dallas the following Sunday. The path to the postseason is there for the Eagles, who maybe provided the spark they needed to turn the season around.
“This was a do-or-die point in our season. Everybody knew that coming in. It wasn’t really said, but everybody understood it,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “Our backs are still pushed against the wall heading into next week.”
How the Eagles won this game after having the Giants' offense move up and down the field against a depleted defense for most of the first half and with an offense that again lurched out of the gate was nothing short of impressive. The Eagles showed resolve. They showed patience. They showed maturity.
And they finished.
“A lot of guys stepped up,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “That’s how you win games. Everybody has to contribute.”
How did it happen, The Win That Kept The Season Alive? Every part of the team contributed …
- Running backs Josh Adams (22 carries, 84 yards, touchdown, two-point conversion) and Corey Clement (5 carries, 45 yards, two-point conversion, two receptions, 31 yards) gained some tough yards as the Eagles stuck with the running game, despite falling behind early. Clement’s 32-yarder was key on a field goal drive that got the Eagles on the board with a second-quarter Elliott field goal and his 23-yard gain on a screen pass set the Eagles up on a touchdown drive that gave the Eagles their first lead early in the fourth quarter. Adams was the workhorse, bouncing outside for some big gains and running hard inside for some key yards. The Eagles gained 127 yards on 29 carries.
- Wentz was an efficient 20-of-28 passing for 236 yards and a touchdown as he compiled a passer rating of 108.6. He wasn’t spectacular, but he was solid, and Wentz led the fourth-quarter drive that led to Elliott’s game-winning field goal, keeping it alive with a 12-yard completion to wide receiver Nelson Agholor on a fourth-and-1 play from the New York 42-yard line with 2:39 remaining on the clock.
- The defense stepped up in a big way after a rugged first and most-of-the-second quarter. The Giants marched up and down the field for 19 first-half points and 346 total net yards, 236 in the air and 94 yards and a touchdown on nine carries from star rookie back Saquon Barkley. Safety Malcolm Jenkins intercepted Manning late in the first half at the Philadelphia 2-yard line ending a New York drive and keeping the Eagles in the game at halftime, trailing 19-11.
“The biggest thing is, we were kind of on our heels the whole first half,” said Jenkins, who asked defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to simplify things just a bit after Barkley’s 51-yard touchdown run put New York ahead 19-3 in the second quarter. “Once we did that we were able to settle down the outside and stop the run a little bit and allowed for a pass rush.”
The change was startling. The Giants gained just 56 total net yards in the second half and converted only one of six third downs as the Eagles held them to a field goal to give the offense time to get the ground game and the effective passing game going.
- The injury-depleted secondary started De’Vante Bausby and Chandon Sullivan on the outside at cornerback with Cre’Von LeBlanc in the nickel. When Sullivan left the game in the third quarter with an injury, Jenkins moved to nickel and Corey Graham played safety along with Tre Sullivan. At linebacker, with Jordan Hicks sidelined, Nigel Bradham took over the middle with Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nathan Gerry on the flanks. Grugier-Hill led the team with seven total tackles, including two for loss.
“We just tackled better and we played with confidence,” Grugier-Hill said. “We knew we needed this win. It was a group effort. We all had to step up.”
It helped, too, that the defensive line had a major impact with a couple of sacks and consistent pressure on Manning.
“If it wasn’t a sack, it was a hit,” defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. “When (Manning) kind of moves around in the pocket, I think that played a big part in the game.”
- On special teams, Elliott was perfect on his kicks and punter Cam Johnston averaged 50.3 yards (39 net), with two punts inside the 20, on his four tries.
Team effort. Huge win that the Eagles needed. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but who cares? The Eagles showed great resolve to erase a large deficit and win a game that they absolutely, certainly, had to have.
And the season is alive, with Washington coming to town next Monday night.
“After losing the last two games, getting a big win today, focus on the good and not the bad right now,” Cox said. “We have another really good football team coming in here Monday night, another division game at home, and it is going to be a big one for us, too.”
They all are. Playoff football is here for the Eagles, who ended a two-game losing streak and a three-game home skid on Sunday to keep the season alive.
Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' NFC East clash against the New York Giants.