EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – In a lightning-fast display of dominating football, the Eagles on Sunday served notice to everyone that they are continuing to play their best football at exactly the right time in this 2022 regular season. After three exchanges of possessions in an NFC East game against the New York Giants, the Eagles led by three touchdowns on the way to a 48-22 win to improve their record to 12-1 and clinch a playoff spot.
The goals, of course, are much higher than simply making the postseason. Philadelphia has a two-game lead in the NFC over both Dallas and Minnesota, who are both 10-3.
"Hey man, we want the playoffs to come through Lincoln Financial Field," said defensive end Brandon Graham, who led a 7-quarterback sack defensive performance with a career-high-tying 3 of his own on Sunday. "We want that bye week and we want that home-field advantage, because we know our fans are going to bring it."
The Eagles certainly brought it on Sunday to defeat the Giants, opening with a barrage in the first quarter-plus to go up by three touchdowns. It was awesome all the way through, particularly in those first 22 minutes when the Eagles did everything right.
1. The Eagles' defense made a definitive statement on New York's first possession, sacking quarterback Daniel Jones twice – by Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick – to set the tone for a strong Sunday performance. Philadelphia allowed only 123 harmless rushing yards, limiting standout running back Saquon Barkley to 28 yards on 9 carries, and Jones passed for a skimpy 122 yards through three quarters, by which time the Eagles led 34-14.
"We wanted to set the tone and I think we did exactly that," Reddick said. "First, it was Sweaty and then it was my turn. That's kind of the way it was today, the way it's been all season. We're all taking turns and making plays and having a lot of fun."
2. Quarterback Jalen Hurts and the offense drove 84 yards on 14 plays and one penalty on its first possession, eating up 8 minutes, 5 seconds of the game clock, and Hurts completed 9 of 10 passes for 64 yards – seven receivers caught passes on the drive – as Philadelphia jumped out to a 7-0 lead on Miles Sanders' 3-yard touchdown run (more on Sanders later). As the defense set a tone with the pass rush on New York's first drive, the offense did the same thing with a precise drive.
"I don't think they had much of an idea of what we were going to do," said Sanders, who gained a career-high 144 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns on 17 carries and passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career. "We're having so much fun out there. That's really what it is. This is just fun. We're executing at a high level and having fun and complementing each other. That's what it's all about."
3. After a three-and-out series by the defense, the Eagles drove to the New York 41-yard line and decided to go for it on fourth-and-7 from there. Hurts threw right for wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who was lined up inside on the right side of the formation and then ran his route outside. Smith gained a step on Darnay Holmes and reached up for a perfectly thrown Hurts pass, snatching it away from safety Julian Love, who appeared ready to make the interception, and instead came up empty. Smith (5 catches, 64 yards in the first two possessions) trotted into the end zone to complete a 12-play, 91-yard drive and the Eagles led 14-0.
"Jalen made a perfect throw and I just went up and got it," Smith said. "We're clicking. If it's not me, it's going to be someone else. That's how this offense is working, the way we've been all season."
4. New York then committed a special teams gaffe when punter Jamie Gillan dropped the football as he was about to launch into his kick and then drop-kicked the football 15 yards. That's a penalty in the NFL and the Eagles gained a first down at the Giants' 33-yard line. On first down from there, Hurts threw to a wide-open A.J. Brown for a catch and run touchdown and it was 21-0.
"Great design and I ran the route and we saw what we thought we would see from them," said Brown, who also passed the 1,000-yard receiving milestone for the season and scored his 10th touchdown. "Jalen put it on me and it was easy after that."
For all intents and purposes, it was game over after that. From there, it just felt like the Eagles could do as they wanted offensively – Philadelphia put up 437 total net yards of offense, gained 27 first downs, converted 6 of 11 third downs, and scored 3 touchdowns in 4 red-zone trips. The running game totaled 253 yards on 31 carries and Hurts was fantastic once again, completing 21 of 31 passes for 217 yards and the two touchdowns and also running for 77 yards and a score on 7 attempts.
"No, we haven't played our best game yet," said Brown, who now has 65 receptions, 1,020 yards, and 10 touchdowns for the season. "We can clean up a lot of things and that's going to come."
The Eagles suffered some injuries on the day that will be further evaluated, but their depth showed once again. Reed Blankenship went out with a knee injury and was replaced by K'Von Wallace at safety, and punter/holder Arryn Siposs suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Jake Elliott as a punter (Elliott had one punt for 35 yards that was fair caught) and by Britain Covey as a holder (Elliott made a pair of field goals and three PATs with Covey holding). Obviously, the Eagles will have to gain a better understanding of those two injuries and address the positions, if necessary.
But Sunday, overall, was a huge day. Blowing out the Giants on the road? The expectation was that it would be a tough, hard-fought game against a team very much in the NFC playoff picture. The offense stayed red hot, carving up New York's offense every which way it wanted. The defense had the seven quarterback sacks and a takeaway. The special teams busted it out in the kickoff return game as Boston Scott averaged 39 yards on three returns, including a career-long 66-yard effort and the coverage teams were outstanding.
"We know there are a lot of areas where we can improve, but it feels great to be 12-1 because this is a special team with that kind of chemistry," Graham said. "Everybody wants everybody to do well. We're all rooting for each other and helping each other. We know we can be special, but there is a lot of work to do.
"It's been so much fun, though. Coming here and beating the Giants like this? Man, it's something else. Just keep it going. That's all we want to do – keep it going to let's see where we end up."