By scoring 14 points offensively and taking the football away from New York three times in the fourth quarter -- all interceptions -- the Eagles for the first time this season dominated the final 15 minutes of a game. They did it the right way on Sunday, moving to 2-3 for the year, ending a three-game losing streak and moving into first place in the division, whatever that means in early October.
Sunday was an important day for the Eagles after three straight losses to AFC West teams. And the Eagles overcame some obstacles to win their second game of the 2013 season against a division team. They overcame an early deficit against an undermanned but desperate football team. They rallied after starting quarterback Michael Vick limped off the field late in the second quarter with a hamstring injury, never to return.
A young team that had not sustained reversed momentum much this year -- or in recent seasons, for that matter -- found itself trailing 21-19 late in the third quarter and instead of allowing the Giants to extend the lead and keep their season alive, Philadelphia scored the final 17 points of the game and dropped New York to 0-5.
"It was a really important win and we all knew it," said linebacker Connor Barwin. "We had three straight losses and we were on the road in the division. These are games that are so important, and it feels good to get out of here and finish the way we did. Maybe we can build off of this."
Maybe. On an overcast afternoon during which the Eagles rolled up 439 total net yards, converted 9 of 19 third downs, won the turnover battle 4-0 and saw Nick Foles come off the sidelines to complete 15 of 26 passes for 197 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the storylines were well defined. At the end, perhaps, we witnessed two teams heading in different directions: The Giants descending after a long run with head coach Tom Coughlin and an aging roster, and the Eagles on the rise with new head coach Chip Kelly and a lot of wide-eyed players learning how to win in this league.
- Foles stepped in for Vick after the latter pulled up lame with a hamstring injury after running for 13 yards and heading out of bounds late in the second quarter. Vick stayed in for the remainder of that series -- a LeSean McCoy run and two passes -- as Alex Henery kicked one of his five field goals to end the drive. Vick was the quarterback on the next drive, too, but he lasted for just one play before Kelly pulled Vick from the game and inserted Foles. Just like that, Foles drove the Eagles 75 yards in 10 plays, completing 7 of 8 passes for 68 yards to set up Henery for another field goal.
There was no update on Vick's left hamstring after the game, but Kelly said that if Vick is healthy he will play against Tampa Bay. Clearly, there is no quarterback controversy here. But it's certainly good to know that Foles is prepared, sharp and capable of running this offense efficiently. We knew that, though, based on what he did last year and in this summer's preseason.
- As the Giants bottled up McCoy, who ran for 46 yards on 20 carries and had another 46 yards on 6 carries, they could do nothing with DeSean Jackson, who was targeted 12 times and ended up with 7 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The passing game also clicked with 3 receptions to Celek for 47 yards and a diving 25-yard touchdown catch one play after Mychal Kendricks picked off Eli Manning in the fourth quarter. Zach Ertz chipped in with a pair of catches for 38 yards.
- Defensively, the Eagles took the football away for the first time since the second game of the season against San Diego. Kendricks had a fumble recovery and the interception. Brandon Boykin, who did an excellent job against Victor Cruz (5 catches, 48 yards), made a diving interception, one of three for the defense in the fourth quarter (cornerback Cary Williams had the third).
"I'm proud of my guys," said Kendricks. "We kept hanging in there and putting pressure on Eli (Manning) and it paid off for us."
The Giants lost running back David Wilson with a neck injury in the first half, further depleting their offense and forcing Manning into 52 passing attempts.
"We knew they were going to try to go down the field against us and that they would get a few plays, but we kept fighting," said Boykin, who also had an excellent game on special teams. "We just swarmed to the football."
- An ongoing problem was the offensive play in the red zone. The Eagles let New York hang around for much of the game and scored only 2 touchdowns in 5 trips to the red zone. It's an area that has been an issue for seasons now, and continues to thwart offensive effectiveness.
"As good as this feels and as much as we did well on offense, we know we have a lot to improve and the red zone is at the top of the list," said center Jason Kelce. "We're making too many mistakes -- penalties, not executing -- in that area. We can be a lot better."
- As the Eagles won the fourth quarter 14-0, they opened October the right way. Now they play at Tampa Bay (0-4) and then have home games against NFC East rivals Dallas and the Giants before a trip out west to Oakland. Nobody is looking past anything, but if the Eagles play their best football ...
"We have to put it all together," said Jackson. "Go out and play our best 60 minutes of football and see what happens. We all believe in each other and in our coaches, so we have to be consistent and do it for a whole game every week."
Sunday was the first winning fourth quarter of the season for the Eagles and they did it at exactly the right time. At 2-3, the Eagles are in the thick of things in the division, and in control of their destiny.
"It's just about improving every week and fighting," said Jackson. "The wins are going to be there if we play our kind of football. This game helps us move in the right direction."