EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Eagles' defense is one prideful bunch.
In their first meeting against the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field earlier this season, New York gashed Philadelphia for 219 yards on the ground, including 126 yards and two touchdowns by running back Brandon Jacobs.
During the week leading up to the rivals' second meeting of the season, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said his team had gained a new-found respect for the Giants' ability to run the ball after the first meeting.
That respect was clearly evident on Sunday, as the Eagles' defense held New York to just 88 yards rushing in a 20-14 win over the defending Super Bowl champions.
"It was a lot about pride," safety Quintin Mikell said. "I feel like the first game they came out and changed up some things, we just weren't ready for it. We were better prepared this time for all the different things they were going to try to do. The biggest thing was just attitude. We came out physical and saying we weren't going to let that happen again and it worked out."
Other than the final offensive drive of the game when the Eagles held a 13-point lead, the defense pitched a virtual shutout. The other Giants' touchdown came after a blocked field goal return at the end of the first half. Photo Gallery : PHI vs. NYG 12-7-08
The Giants went for it on fourth down three different times in the game and they came up empty each time. Furthermore, New York converted just three of its 11 third-down chances.
"That's the type of defense we want to be," defensive end Trent Cole said. "We want to get off on third downs and give the offense field position."
The Eagles made a statement early in the game by holding the Giants to just seven yards rushing in the first quarter. By halftime, the Giants had 59 yards on the ground, just two more than the Eagles.
New York had out-gained Philadelphia by 115 yards in their previous meeting. In the rematch, however, the Eagles outrushed the Giants by 56 yards.
"Being the hammer instead of the nail," Cole said, referring to the difference between the first game and this one. "Penetrating. Going in there and penetrating, being back there, holding the blocks, keeping gap control."
By stuffing the run, the Eagles forced New York to attack via the air. However, good coverage, some drops and the wind helped conspire to make Giants quarterback Eli Manning look rather ordinary.
Manning finished the day a pedestrian 13-of-27 for 123 yards and a touchdown. In the first half alone, Manning completed just five passes for a mediocre 37 yards. Prior to the Giants' late scoring drive in the fourth quarter, Manning had just 66 yards passing.
"The true key is in the last two weeks, you jump on them on offense and you get teams to chase you a little bit," cornerback Sheldon Brown said. "You have to give a lot of the credit to the offense. They've been stepping up when we need them to step up and they've been stepping up big. Those guys on that side of the ball were great."
In all, the Eagles dominated what many pundits believe to be the best team in the NFL in their home stadium.
"They had the better day (last time)," Brown said. "We understand that every week is a different week. This game we new would not be the same as last time. We executed better than they did today."