- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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An Eagles team that has held fourth-quarter leads in five of its six losses this year has a 10-3 halftime lead on a Giants team that has come back to win four times in the fourth quarter. There's still a third quarter yet to be played, but given the way the Eagles' season has gone, they'd be wise to build that lead a lot bigger between now and the fourth.
It's going to be tough, though. Vince Young, filling in at quarterback for the injured Michael Vick, looks extremely rusty. He's 8-for-18 for 89 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown while running back LeSean McCoy, who I thought was the Eagles' best chance to win this game, has just 11 carries for 36 yards.
The Eagles seem to be winning the physical battles up front against the Giants, so if I were them I'd go to a heavy dose of the run game when the second half starts. But if I were them, I'd have done that from the beginning. And in spite of leading the NFL in rush yards per game and not having their starting quarterback they opened the game with four straight pass plays.
As for the Giants... a lot of their weaknesses have been exposed in this game: Poor run blocking, spotty coverage downfield (against below-average receivers, with Jeremy Maclin also out for the Eagles and DeSean Jackson looking like his head is 19 in different places), dropped passes and poor special teams coverage, mixed with an ill-timed penalty here and there. Many thought they'd win this game easily, what with the Eagles so beaten up, and the Giants certainly may win it yet. They've been a great second-half team this year while the Eagles have been one of the worst in history. But they're going to have to tighten some things up, and that starts in the trenches.
Some other thoughts on the ugly first half:
The Eagles are absolutely crushing the Giants at the point of attack. Philadelphia's defensive line is dominating an overmatched Giants offensive line, cutting off the run game and limiting what time Eli Manning has to throw the ball downfield. People are hollering for more Da'Rel Scott in the Giants' backfield, but the fact is, whether it's been Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware or Scott, the problem with the Giants' run game this year has not been the backs -- it's been an offensive line that absolutely can't open holes for them.
I have no idea what happened on the Jackson taunting penalty that negated a 50-yard catch. I mean, I know why he got flagged. I just don't understand why the ball went all the way back to the previous spot. The officials said it was an offsetting penalty with Linval Joseph's, but to me it seemed like Jackson's was a dead-ball foul and the Eagles should have only lost 15 yards from the spot where he went down. And if the reason it wasn't called that way was because of the Joseph penalty, why wouldn't the Eagles have just been able to decline that penalty and get the ball up the field? Seems like somebody screwed up on that one. But it was that kind of first half.
Jackson nearly had his first punt-return touchdown of the year just before halftime, but punter Steve Weatherford forced him out of bounds at the 14-yard line. That just made the pain worse for Giants fans, though, as Young hit former Giants receiver Steve Smith for a touchdown pass on the next play.