EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Cornerback Sheldon Brown said that the tension had "been building up for years."
After Joselio Hanson recovered an Eli Manning fumble to seal the Eagles' 45-38 win Sunday night, Trent Cole and the Giants' Shaun O'Hara got into a brawl that resulted in Cole's ejection from the game. The Giants gained 512 yards of total offense which included 379 yards through the air. And on this night it still wasn't enough.
It wasn't pretty. It was an uncharacteristic performance for the Eagles defense. But the Eagles are 9-4 and own sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
"No one is happy with that win," Brown said. "We won the game and a win is a win, but from a defensive standpoint we understand that we have to tackle better. We have to communicate better, the breakdowns in coverages. For us to be a championship team, we have to get a lot better and we know that."
For the second straight week, Brown scored a touchdown. He recovered a Brandon Jacobs fumble and returned it 60 yards for the score. The Eagles were ahead 14-0 with only 5:20 elapsed from the clock. Back on Nov. 1, the Eagles jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead over the Giants as they went on to win 40-17. It wasn't going to be that easy this time around.
"I think it's important, especially for the young guys, to play in this game. No matter the records of any team in the NFC East, they're going to be this way. It's going to be back and forth," Brown said.
In the second quarter, Hakeem Nicks scored on a 68-yard touchdown pass from Manning where two Eagles missed tackles. Domenik Hixon scored on a 61-yard pass from Manning in the third quarter.
"There's always that point where the defense gets together and says, 'OK, enough is enough, let's shut it down and get it over with.' As a defensive player, you have to understand that there are times that come when you have to deal with that," linebacker Will Witherspoon said. "The real question is can you overcome them. I think the best thing we did tonight was take it in stride, and look at the eventual outcome."
Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 115 yards on the ground for the Giants. The Giants were 5-of-12 on third down conversions, and 3-for-3 on fourth down attempts including a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line which ended in a Jacobs touchdown in the third quarter.
"They just found a weak point in our defense, and we went back to the drawing board," said defensive end Darren Howard who had 2.0 sacks. "We need to watch film to see where they were hitting us and plug those holes up."
The defense surrendered more that 20 points in a game for just the fourth time this season. The defense has bailed the offense out on a number of occasions. But if the Eagles are going to extend their current four-game win streak into a deep postseason run, the defense needs to find its groove again.
"We're going to come in this week and watch the film knowing what we did different and what we need to do better," defensive tackle Mike Patterson said. "We're going to correct those things and everything is going to be real well."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 2:10 a.m., December 14