The Eagles welcomed the return of quarterback Jalen Hurts and – thanks to a career performance by kicker Jake Elliott – were able to outlast the New York Giants 22-16 on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
With the win, the Eagles are 2022 NFC East Champions and they clinched the No. 1 seed, ensuring that the NFC Playoffs will come through Philadelphia. The Eagles earned the conference's lone bye and will return to action in the Divisional Round against the lowest-remaining seed.
The Giants entered Sunday's game locked in as the No. 6 seed in the NFC, regardless of what happened against the Eagles. For that reason, they rested key starters – running back Saquon Barkley, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, safety Julian Love, and tackle Andrew Thomas were inactive despite being healthy.
Here are the highlights from the win:
• Jake Elliott opened the scoring with a 32-yard field goal with 11:39 left in the first quarter to make it 3-0, Eagles. The Eagles went 51 yards in seven plays.
• The Giant Killer Boston Scott strikes again with an 8-yard touchdown run up the middle with 4:14 left in the first quarter to make it 10-0, Eagles. Ten of his 17 career touchdowns have come against the Giants, including a 3-TD effort in the division-clinching, regular-season finale vs. the Giants in 2019.
• Elliott's second field goal of the day is good from 52 YARDS OUT! The Eagles lead 13-0 with 10:22 left in the second quarter. It's the 19th 50+ yard field goal of Elliott's career, including playoffs, extending his own franchise record.
• With 45 seconds left in the first half, Elliott hits his third field goal of the game from 39 yards out to make it 16-0. It's Elliott's first three FG game of the season.
• Get enough of Elliott yet? His fourth field goal – FROM 54 YARDS OUT – extended the lead to 19-0 with 6:17 left in the third quarter. It is the fourth time in Elliott's career where he has connected on four field goals in a game.
• The Giants get on the board with a 24-yard Graham Gano field goal with 0:50 left in the third quarter. Eagles still lead 19-3.
• Webb's legs get the Giants into the end zone. Webb scored on a 14-yard touchdown run off a QB draw with 10:04 left in the game. On the 2-point conversion, Webb's throw in the end zone intended for wide receiver Marcus Johnson was broken up by safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. It remains a two-score game with the Eagles ahead 19-9.
• Elliott's career-high fifth field goal of the evening, a 22-yarder, comes with just 3:21 remaining after the Eagles milked 6:43 off the clock to enhance their lead to 22-9.
• Quarterback Davis Webb threw it up for wide receiver Kenny Golladay in the back of the end zone and Golladay came up with a ridiculous one-handed grab despite sticky coverage for a 25-yard touchdown. It's 22-16 Eagles with 1:38 remaining.
Who else did the Giants rest?
Daniel Jones did not start at quarterback. Instead, the Giants went with Davis Webb, who was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday. The only starters on offense with offensive linemen Ben Bredeson and Nick Gates, who rotate at guard, and tackle Evan Neal.
Defensively, no full-time starters lined up on the opening drive for the Giants.
How did Jalen Hurts look in his return?
Before the first offensive snap, the fans at Lincoln Financial Field rained down chants of "MVP! MVP! MVP!"
Hurts took the snap and hit A.J. Brown on an in-breaking route for 35 yards to the Giants' 30-yard line. On the opening series, Hurts was 3-of-6 for 51 yards, no running plays, as the Eagles took a 3-0 lead on a 32-yard Jake Elliott field goal.
If you wondered how the right shoulder would hold up from a throwing standpoint, the Eagles threw the ball on the first 10 offensive plays. Then, on a 3rd-and-9 on the second offensive drive, Hurts threw it deep for Brown down the left side for a 37-yard completion in single coverage.
Hurts got rid of the ball quickly and avoided necessary hits. He drew a roughing the passer call on Giants cornerback Nick McCloud late in the second quarter, but bounced back up with no issues. Hurts was sacked for the first time, a 10-yard loss, with 1:39 left in the first half by linebacker Micah McFadden. But, again, no issues for the quarterback.
In the first half, Hurts was 12-of-18 for 140 yards in the air and 11 yards on the ground.
For a moment, it looked like the Eagles were going to take a 23-0 lead after a twisting, toe-tapping touchdown reception in the back of the end zone by DeVonta Smith. But the 2-yard touchdown throw was nullified by a Landon Dickerson illegal man downfield penalty.
On the next snap, Hurts, under siege, threw a prayer into a crowd of Giants players in the end zone, and it was picked off by safety Dane Belton.
Giants take over at their own 20 with 12:06 left in the third quarter, still down 16-0. The Eagles are just 1-for-4 in the red zone following the turnover.
With 6:34 left in the game, the Eagles faced a 3rd-and-1 from the Giants' 22-yard line as they looked to put the game away. Hurts lined up under center for his first QB sneak attempt of the game and, as it has been all season, it was successful, getting 2 yards and the first down.
Hurts finished the day 20-of-35 for 229 yards with an interception for a 65.1 QB rating. He also had 13 yards on the ground on 9 carries.
The Eagles accomplished the main objective – get Hurts back in the rhythm of the game, earn the win, exit healthy. The game plan was pared back and the team's performance in the red zone suffered as a result (1-for-5), but it was enough for the victory.
What did the return of C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Robert Quinn mean for the defense?
The Eagles activated the two players off of Injured Reserve on Saturday. Gardner-Johnson started at safety and moved to nickel in subpackage looks.
Gardner-Johnson made his first tackle on a stop of running back Gary Brightwell for a 1-yard loss with 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
Blankenship, meanwhile, made consecutive pass breakups on the Giants' fourth drive to force a punt early in the second quarter.
Quinn had a pressure on Webb with just over 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, forcing an incomplete pass.
The defense, overall, has kept the Giants' offense in check until the fourth quarter. In the first half, while allowing no points, the Giants had converted just 3-of-9 third-down attempts, gained six first downs, and amassed 77 total yards. New York finished with just 284 yards of total offense. Webb was 23-of-40 for 168 yards with a ridiculous 25-yard touchdown throw to Kenny Golladay late in the fourth quarter. He wasn't sacked and gained 41 yards on the ground.
Following Hurts' interception early in the third quarter, the Eagles promptly forced the Giants to punt to mitigate the damage from the pick.
After Jake Elliott's fourth field goal of the game, the Giants – down 19-0 – pulled out another trick. A handoff to tight end Lawrence Cager turned out to be a pass attempt, but credit Quinn who wasn't fooled and took away the receiving option. Linebacker Kyzir White got the Eagles' second sack of the game, neither against Webb.
Gardner-Johnson's coverage skills came in handy after the Giants' first touchdown in the fourth quarter. On the 2-point conversion, Webb's pass attempt in the back, right corner of the end zone for wide receiver Marcus Johnson was broken up by the safety.
The Eagles host the New York Giants in the regular-season finale at Lincoln Financial Field. Can the Eagles get the season sweep and secure the NFC East title as well as the conference's No. 1 seed for the playoffs?
The highest-scoring offense in Eagles history
The Eagles broke the franchise single-season record for most points in a season with 477, surpassing the mark of 474 set by the 2014 squad.
A.J. Brown makes history
With the 35-yard catch on the Eagles' first offensive play, Brown surpassed Eagles Hall of Fame wide receiver Mike Quick's single-season receiver record of 1,409 yards set in 1983. He finished the season with 88 receptions for 1,496 receiving yards – fourth in the NFL – and 11 touchdowns, tied for third in the league.
Same for DeVonta Smith
The Slim Reaper entered the game tied with Irving Fryar (1996) for the most catches by an Eagles wide receiver in a single season with 88. Smith caught a short pass for a 9-yard gain on the Eagles' second possession to take over first place.
Tight end Zach Ertz should still hold the franchise single-season receptions record with his 116 from the 2018 season.
Smith finished the year with 95 receptions for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns.
Special teams makes an impact for Eagles
On the Giants' third possession, late in the first quarter, New York lined up for a 47-yard field goal attempt. The Giants tried to catch the Eagles off guard and go for a fake. The Eagles weren't buying it. Holder Jamie Gillan scrambled in the backfield and was promptly sacked by cornerback Zech McPhearson to end the first quarter.
The Giants had gone three-and-out on their first two offensive possessions.
K'Von Wallace later drew a holding penalty after nearly blocking a Gillan punt to set the Eagles up with great field position in the second quarter. The Eagles capitalized with a 52-yard Jake Elliott field goal.
To open the second half, the Giants tried an onsides kick. It was recovered by linebacker Nakobe Dean at the Giants' 48-yard line.
After the Giants cut it to 22-16 with under two minutes remaining in the game, Reed Blankenship recovered the onsides kick to secure the win and the No. 1 seed for the Eagles.
Wendy's Frosty Freeze Out
By holding the Giants out of the end zone in the first quarter, fans are treated to free Wendy's small Frostys on Monday, January 9 at participating Philadelphia-area locations. Click for more details.
Webb has done an uncanny job of using his legs to avoid sacks. While the Eagles have generated pressure to force incomplete passes – one Haason Reddick rush led to an intentional grounding penalty – the only sack in the first half was on the fake field goal attempt.
Some of Webb's errant passes have nearly been picked off, however, as linebacker T.J. Edwards, safety Marcus Epps, and cornerback Darius Slay nearly came away with turnovers.
Check out the Eagles as they arrive to Lincoln Financial Field ahead of Sunday's showdown with the New York Giants.