EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – After five games of first-quarter struggles, the Eagles put together a beautiful opening 15 minutes on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. The offense scored two touchdowns in two red zone visits, the defense had an interception, and DeAndre Carter had a nifty 23-yard punt return.
And the Eagles had a double-digit lead after one quarter.
· It began on New York’s second play from scrimmage after accepting the opening kickoff. An Eli Manning pass intended for tight end Scott Simonson in the middle of the field was tipped by middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, who came from Simonson’s right side, and the ball fluttered into the hands of linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who made the interception and returned it 24 yards to New York’s 16-yard line.
· Quarterback Carson Wentz took over from there, throwing an incomplete pass intended for tight end Zach Ertz on first down. A second-down run from Wendell Smallwood and then on third down Wentz, given good protection, rolled right after he couldn’t find anyone open from the pocket and threw across his body into the back of the end zone for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who made the catch for the 13-yard touchdown, his fifth in his last five games (including playoffs).
· After Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley gained 57 yards on New York’s next drive, including 46 yards on a running play, the Eagles' defense held in the red zone and limited New York to a field goal.
· The Eagles took their next offensive possession from their 14-yard line to the 49 before the drive went backward, but Cameron Johnston’s punt was fair caught by Odell Beckham Jr. at the 9-yard line. Defensive end Michael Bennett promptly sacked Manning for an 8-yard loss, put the Giants in a hole, and helping force a three-and-out series.
· Carter’s 23-yard punt return gave the offense possession at the New York 44-yard line with 4:49 remaining in the quarter and the Eagles put together a nice six-play drive with a couple of Wentz completions to Jeffery gained 21 yards, Smallwood gained 8 yards on the left side on a first-down run from the 23-yard line, and then Corey Clement took over with a 14-yard run right to the 1-yard line, was stopped for no gain on a pass from Wentz, and then bulldozed into the end zone on the left side for the touchdown.
It was an almost-perfect first quarter, one the Eagles had been searching for all season.
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