Combining the forces of Sunday Football Night In America broadcast, the retirement of No. 20 and Brian Dawkins' immediate induction in the franchise's Hall of Fame and a nail-biting win over the defending Super Bowl-champion Giants made for an exhausted Eagles fan base. So much raw energy. So much power. So much excitement.
In the end, the Eagles just decided, and it was a full moon over Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday night, that they were going to run the football. And run it. And then run it some more. They churned out 191 yards against the vaunted Giants front four, 123 of them by LeSean McCoy, and wore down the Giants just enough to squeak out the victory.
Oh, there was much more to the win, one that was brutally physical and perhaps more reminiscent form a style standpoint of a game from the 1970s, but boy was it fun to watch. The Eagles didn't turn the football over, quarterback Michael Vick was efficiently wonderful and the defense had enough stops in the red zone -- New York was just 2 of 4 in the red zone -- to salvage a win.
Oh, yeah, and Lawrence Tynes missed a 54-yard field goal twice -- only one counted as the Eagles nullified the first one by calling a timeout -- and the enthralled fans had to wait a few more seconds to expend any of their remaining energy celebrating a win.
It was all of that and more on a wonderful night to be an Eagles fan. The offense went away from the wide-open attack that has marked the Andy Reid era -- think pass first to set up the run -- and ran the football at defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, hit the edges with some major McCoy stretch plays that picked up huge chunks of yardage and rolled up 422 yards of total offense and patched up the offensive line enough to give Vick time to complete 19 of 30 passes for 231 yards and a pretty 19-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson late in the first half to break a 0-0 tie.
Gosh, it was a blast.
Some numbers jumped out in the win. We take a look ...
- What about those 191 rushing yards on 36 attempts? Hey, it's been a topic of discussion for a long, long time. The Eagles, as do most good NFL offenses, pass early to set up the run late. The Eagles didn't exactly follow that script this time. They wanted to establish the line of scrimmage. They wanted to slow New York's pass rush. They wanted to get physical. And maybe that was the best part of the win, that the Eagles were just so physical. Left tackle Demetress Bell and center Dallas Reynolds really settled down after tough starts and played well. The play from fullback Stanley Havili, wow, just wow. He did a great job as a lead blocker. The Eagles didn't score enough touchdowns, and three runs from the 1-yard line failed to put the ball in the end zone, but it was enough to keep quarterback Eli Manning on the sidelines and keep the Eagles in the game.
- Vick hasn't played his best football in the first month of the season, but he played a fantastic game on Sunday night. Vick ran away from trouble when it was there and he threw the ball where the Giants gave him some openings. No turnovers. There is no statistic more important than that for Vick, or any quarterback. And with another fourth-quarter drive to win a game, Vick is as prepared for that scenario as any quarterback can be. The man is not flustered in the fourth quarter. He was fantastic against the Giants.
- The coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for making whatever adjustments it made up front for the offense. There was some maximum protection going on, and McCoy chipped here and there and the tight ends did a super job helping. It was an important week of modification for the coaching staff and the coaches delivered.
- All was not perfect, of course. The special teams continue to produce very little in the return game and the kickoff coverage was dreadful, as David Wilson averaged 36 yards per return. Missing Akeem Jordan and Colt Anderson is hurting the coverage teams mightily and there isn't anyone stepping up to be a stopper. Bobby April has some work ahead of him.
- That said, Alex Henery nailed four field goals, one from 48 yards. He's back in his groove. Terrific. Mat McBriar averaged 45.5 yards on five punts, with a 38.5-yard net. Good job to both. And how about Jon Dorenbos? The man has a high ankle sprain and he did a perfect job snapping on kicks and getting down the field to make plays.
- As for Juan Castillo's defense ... outstanding. The Giants are a high-powered attack and Manning is one of the best in the game. The Eagles shut down New York's running game (just 57yards on 19 carries) and battled against Victor Cruz (9 catches, most of them coming out of the slot) and Domenik Hixon, who caught 6 passes for 114 yards. An end-zone interception by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie stymied one drive. Good red-zone defense by cornerback Brandon Hughes -- who played well when Nnamdi Asomugha was sidelined with an eye injury -- limited the Giants to a field goal at the end of the first half.
- The end of the game was as bizarre as I have ever seen. The Eagles were penalized with two pass-interference calls -- one on fourth down against Rodgers-Cromartie and one a phantom call against Asomugha -- and then got one back when Asomugha had perfect position on Ramses Barden down the sideline just before placekicker Lawrence Tynes twice attempted a 54-yard kick to win the game. His first kick sailed wide left, but the Eagles had called a timeout prior to the kick and Tynes had another shot. This one came up a few yards short and the Eagles had a win. A huge win. A needed win that capped a classic night and sent a strong message that the Eagles are not going to be pushed around in the NFC East.
I could write more. I could write about a night that was so remarkably special, but I just don't have the energy. I don't have the recall. I'm buzzed after so much Eagles love all day and all night on Sunday. All that matters in the end is the win, and first place in the NFC East.
I feel great about this team right now. It's got a ton of heart. There is a lot to clean up, yes, but 3-1 is 3-1. It all came together in the perfect storm of a weekend where we celebrated the past and the present and lived through a win for the ages, another classic in one of the best rivalries in the NFL.