Sunday, September 25, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Giants 29, Eagles 16
By Dan Graziano
PHILADELPHIA -- Some thoughts from the New York Giants' victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday afternoon:
What it means: Everything to the Giants, who'd lost their past six games to the Eagles and were still smarting from the Week 15 collapse that cost them the playoffs last year. Badly outmanned in the game and outplayed for much of it, the Giants stuck to their game plan and found a way to pick up a critical win that no one (myself included) imagined they could get. What it means for the Eagles is huge trouble, as quarterback Michael Vick left the game with a broken right (non-throwing) hand, Jeremy Maclin injured his hamstring and the defense gave up three huge plays that cost them the game and dropped them to 1-2.
T-O-U-G-H: You absolutely have to hand it to the Giants (no pun intended, seriously). There was no reason for them to even be in this game, and they managed to win it. This was their best game of the year so far, and for much of it they were undisciplined and ugly. But they are 2-1, plain and simple, and if they're going to ultimately be healthier than they are right now, you have to believe banking these wins while they were outmanned and playing poorly is going to be a huge benefit.
Same old, really bad problem: The Eagles will say the play on which Vick broke his hand wasn't a symptom of their inability to protect him, as he was trying to stuff the ball into the end zone on a sneak. And they'll be right. But that will camouflage the fact that, for the bulk of the game, the Giants were able to deliver hit after hit on Vick as per their ideal game plan. The best way the Eagles found to protect Vick was to run the ball with LeSean McCoy, which they did with great success even after getting behind 14-0. But for some reason, when Mike Kafka came into the game and it was still within reach with eight minutes to go, they called a long pass that was intercepted. It remains to be seen whether Vick will miss next week's game or many more, but don't be surprised if Vince Young is the starter instead of Kafka in Vick's absence. The Eagles' offense relies on its ability to make big plays, and they don't appear to trust Kafka to make them.
Tables turned: The Giants' defensive coaches preached all week that the most important thing they could do was limit big plays. They did it, and the Eagles didn't. They got beaten on a 40-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Jacobs when overmatched rookie linebacker Casey Matthews bit on a great Eli Manning play fake, and Victor Cruz beat them with a pair of long touchdown catches, the second against marquee free-agent signing Nnamdi Asomugha. The inability of the Giants' receivers to get open with Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon on the shelf hurt the Giants for much of the middle part of the game, but they got open just enough to take advantage of the Eagles' inability to generate anything in their passing game.
Short-yardage woes: The Eagles were stuffed at the goal line twice after long drives, settling instead for field goals in a game they had several chances to put away. Credit the Giants' defensive line for the big stops, but Andy Reid's play calling at the goal line left a lot to be desired and resulted in a very odd development -- Eagles fans actually booing after the field goal that gave their team a 16-14 lead!
What's next: The Giants travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals on Sunday and will hope to have wide receiver Mario Manningham back from his concussion so things come a little easier for them in the passing game. The Eagles are home Sunday to face the San Francisco 49ers, who pose yet another tough test for their shaky pass protection.