It was another hard-fought battle that came down until the very end for head coach Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles pulled out a 34-29 win over the New York Giants in the final stretch of their three-week series of games on the road.
"Anytime the Giants and the Eagles play it's always going to be a battle," Pederson said. "Regardless of records, throw everything out it becomes sort of a slugfest.
"Two weeks in a row for our team to really find a way, a week ago play well enough and then come back this week and don't really play great, but still really find a way to win the game. Players have made plays all year. They continue to make plays but plenty of mistakes to go around that we have to definitely clean up moving forward."
Two of the games on this three-game road trip were on the West Coast, a difficult loss to Seattle and another in which starting quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending ACL tear.
Needless to say, it has not been an easy couple of weeks.
Quarterback Nick Foles was put in the hot seat this week as the new starting quarterback with Wentz out for the rest of the season. Foles impressed going 24-of-38 for 237 yards with four touchdown passes.
"I thought he played well, really well," Pederson said. "I mean, you know I'm sure there's some things that he would like to do over, obviously, each game is going to be that way but I thought he handled himself extremely well, a lot of poise back there, took some shots today, but bounced up. Did a nice job, did a nice job."
Pederson touched on the team's initial reaction to their first game without Wentz and the adjustment to Foles now being the leader of the offense.
"I'm sure Carson probably reached out to all those players, offensively wished them well but there was no difference, they spent the whole week with Nick," Pederson said. "There might have been a little bit of that, 'Well, how are we going to play? What's going to happen to start the game?' but we just go right down the field and Nick had the hot hand early and just kind of maintained it early and really it's a great win not just for the team but for Nick too and for the guys."
Foles was able to find wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, and tight ends Zach Ertz and Trey Burton in the end zone to get the 34 points on the board. The Eagles' dynamic offense scheme makes it easier for any quarterback to find the end zone and score.
"I really don't think there's a secret. I just think it's just the execution of the players," Pederson said. "We spend time during the week on that, it's been really an area of focus for us all season long, offseason, started in the offseason, and through Training Camp. You get guys like Alshon and Ertz and these guys are making plays down there. There's a couple of big targets you can go to. Trey Burton has had a nice couple of games here back to back. We have to continue to run the ball so it just comes down to the execution of the players."
Despite it being a strong day for the Eagles' offense, the defense struggled several times throughout the game. The Giants' offense was able to put 29 points up today and converted 10-of-18 third-down attempts. The Giants were able to score their first three touchdowns in the first half of the game, which had the Eagles trailing 20-7 in the second quarter.
"We just had to make a play, we couldn't get off the field," Pederson said. "Their first five third downs they converted, 10-of-18 on third downs, I mean there's your story right there. You just can't get off the field. You just have to make a play somehow. We had some secondary penalties, just couldn't get off the field and those are things that are critical errors. Then we had an offsides (penalty) on a punt return that gave them a new set of downs. So you just can't do that, you can't do it. You have to be smart, know the situation obviously and we got to get it fixed.
"I'm not concerned. These guys understand. They really do. If you were in that dressing room a few minutes ago, you know, you know the players know. They have to clean some things up obviously and we can't have 10 penalties and expect to win too and then we couldn't get off the field on third down, that's always been something that we've kind of been good on defense but I'm not concerned."
Now at 12-2 on the season, Pederson and the Eagles will prepare to finish out the regular season with two games at home before the postseason begins. Sunday's win gives them a first-round bye and at least one home game guaranteed in the playoffs.
"We're slowly checking boxes, you know, NFC East a week ago and then a bye and a home game now, check the box but there's still everything in front of us and I just challenged them that you can't play like this and win in the postseason obviously," Pederson said. "Can't play like this and expect to win every week. You have to come prepared and when I say prepared I mean from a mental standpoint, that emotion, that sort of sense of urgency and that dominating swagger that you want to see your team come out of the dressing room with and that was kind of the message today. Happy for the guys again. They found a way to win, we hung in there and we're 12-2.
"It's a tight group. It's a real tight group. It's a family atmosphere. It's a band of brothers. Those are not just words. Those guys really believe that. You know, coaches and players really buy into everything we're doing," Pederson said. "We've had a tough stretch these last three weeks but to go 2-1 in these three games is just a credit to the players, the coaches, and we still have everything right in front of us obviously. We have a great opportunity Christmas night to do some more and then in the postseason. We get a little bit of a longer week, get the guys rested and ready to go."
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants to move to 12-2 on the season. The victory also helped the team secure a first-round bye for the playoffs.