EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Statistically, it was difficult to see how the Eagles managed to stay with the Giants in their 36-31 loss at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 9.
But in Sunday's 20-14 win, it was simple to see why they came out on top. The result of the game was utter dominance in just about every facet besides the final score.
The Eagles were able to run all over the NFC's top defense overall and second-ranked rushing defense. The Eagles put up 144 yards on the ground, including a 131-yard performance from Brian Westbrook. In all, the Eagles had yet another lopsided run-pass ratio, but this time, it was in favor of the run.
The Eagles threw the ball just 30 times and rushed 41, allowing the offense to control the time of possession, 34:54 to 25:06, a category the Giants absolutely dominated in the November meeting.
"When you control the time of possession and (are) able come out with points," quarterback Donovan McNabb said, "obviously, that puts you in a better position to win the game." Photo Gallery : PHI vs. NYG 12-7-08
The offensive line kept McNabb on his feet, too. McNabb was only sacked once against New York in both meetings this season, combined. The only time McNabb went down was in the fourth quarter, when he tripped over center Jamaal Jackson's foot – it was a designed run play and the sack will likely be taken off the books. But, in a timely fashion, McNabb followed the "sack" up with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Westbrook, which put the game out of reach.
In a game that featured zero turnovers, third- and fourth-down conversions dictated the outcome. The Eagles were 12-of-18 on third down, as opposed to New York's 3-of-11 success rate. And the Eagles snuffed out all three of New York's fourth-down attempts. Giants coach Tom Coughlin was more liberal on going for fourth-down conversions because of the extremely windy conditions at Giants Stadium, making field goals much more difficult.
The Eagles' defense came out hungry, as well. They didn't allow an offensive score until 15 seconds remained in the game – Kevin Dockery returned a blocked field goal for the Giants' first touchdown. And until the final 60-yard drive that New York had, Westbrook had outgained the entire Giants' offense by himself.
The Giants ran for just 88 yards, laying somewhat of an egg after putting up 219 yards on the Eagles in November. In doing that, the Eagles were able to force Giants quarterback Eli Manning into throwing the ball in poor conditions.
Free safety Brian Dawkins wouldn't lie: not having Plaxico Burress to cover helped his defense. Burress was suspended for four games and placed on the reserve/non-football injury list after accidentally shooting himself in the leg a week ago. But the Eagles still rose to the task to save the season.
"They are still a good football team, don't get me wrong," Dawkins said. "But all-along, this has been a good defense, and I think people recognize that. And if they don't, then we'll be happy to surprise them."