Giants finally get job done vs. Eagles
After 6 straight losses to Philly, including last year's disaster, Big Blue finished on top
PHILADELPHIA -- Justin Tuck constantly reminded his teammates in the huddle every chance he got in the fourth quarter.
And wherever he roamed on the sideline, he heard the same word being repeated by teammates.
It became a New York Giants motto after Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson had them screaming another F-word, the four-letter expletive kind, in December when the Eagles finished the Giants' NFC East title and ultimately playoff hopes.
Nine months later, the Giants finally got the job done, stunning the Eagles, 29-16, at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
The Giants snapped a six-game losing streak against the Eagles, and knocked Michael Vick out as well.
But even though Vick went out of the game early in the fourth quarter, the Giants kept telling themselves to finish until the final whistle ended, with Jackson and Vick watching Eli Manning take three knees in the victory formation.
Despite having not beaten the Eagles since 2008, the Giants felt they should've defeated Philadelphia twice last year, blowing fourth-quarter leads in both meetings.
"We wanted it, man," running back Ahmad Bradshaw said. "We knew we're a good team. We knew we're better than them and that just put more fire in our heart. And the way we beat them last year early in the games they just came back and that wasn't going [to happen] today."
Tuck believed in his team, but the defensive captain admitted that human nature did allow doubt to creep in after the Giants had more season-ending injuries than third-down conversions the first two weeks of the season.
Tuck, playing with a throbbing neck injury of his own, wondered what kind of potential an injury-ravaged Giants team possessed.
He now knows.
"Hopefully it gives us a lot of confidence," said Tuck, who was practically glowing in the locker room after the game despite the pain in his neck. "It gets us to stop because youčre human, you think about the injuries, you think about the people that are here. Obviously, you're on that football field, you see 11 guys in the huddle, you believe in those 11 guys. You know that sometimes that talent isn't there."
"For me, personally, it really helped me believe even more in this football team," Tuck added. "I do believe in them and I did before we won this one. But now, there's no doubt whatsoever when we play our style of football we can beat anybody."
The Giants showed what they can be when they play opportunistic and clean football. This is what it's like when the Giants don't turn the ball over, convert nearly half of their third downs and play physical defense.
Even with his second- and third-best receivers out, Eli Manning threw for four touchdowns against the Eagles for the second straight game. But this time he had no interceptions and no fumbles. On the field where he lost a fumble late in the fourth quarter as the Giants were trying to mount a comeback last year, Manning stunned a defense that flaunts a trio of star cornerbacks with 40- and 74-yard touchdown passes in the first quarter for a quick 14-0 lead.
Meanwhile Vick, who was cleared to play despite suffering a concussion last week, looked slow by his own usually supersonic standards. He fumbled snaps, missed receivers and just seemed out of sync.
Playing almost exclusively with two linebackers and three safeties, the Giants limited Vick to 176 yards passing and 31 yards rushing. This was more the LeSean McCoy Show, as the man Osi Umenyiora refers to as "Lady Gaga" danced through the Giants' defense for 128 rushing yards and a touchdown. But the Giants managed to keep the big plays to a minimum with Vick under wraps.
"I thought Vick would be a little more involved than he was," running back Brandon Jacobs said. "I guess he couldn't think straight."
Jackson, the Giants killer who came into the game with four career touchdowns of 30 yards or more against Tom Coughlin's team, finished with only two catches for 30 yards and -- gasp! -- one punt return for 13 yards.
The Giants sacked Vick only once, and were credited with only two quarterback hits. But when they got to Vick, they made sure the Eagles' quarterback felt them.
Twice, Vick took shots to the head right at the end of a play, and one of them is believed to have led to Vick's injured right hand after Chris Canty collided with him right after a pass in the third quarter.
"The fact that we knocked him out of the football game tells a lot," Tuck said.
Perhaps more telling was defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's unit in the second half. Last year, Fewell's schemes bottled up Vick for the majority of their two meetings until he went into video game mode on the Giants in that fourth quarter and erased a 31-10 deficit in the final eight minutes of the unforgettable 38-31 Eagles' victory last December.
This time, Fewell's defense stonewalled Vick twice on a second-and-1 at the Giants' goal line after the first stop was nullified by a penalty. For some reason, Eagles coach Andy Reid opted not to put the ball back in Vick's hands on third-and-goal and gave the ball to fullback Owen Schmitt, who was stuffed. The Eagles settled for a field goal to take a 16-14 lead with a minute left in the third quarter.
"I don't know if it was anything [schematic]," Tuck said of the stand. "It was heart."
The Giants, though, had seen this movie play out before, with the Eagles ripping their hearts out at the end. That's why Tuck and his teammates kept uttering the F-word throughout the fourth quarter.
They finished the job this time, as Manning threw for two more touchdowns and the Giants intercepted Eagles backup QB Mike Kafka twice.
It may not make up for last year's December debacle, something Tuck said he will carry to his grave. But the Giants will savor this one.
"We definitely shut them up," Jacobs said. "There's no question about that. We walked off the field as the winners, by a nice margin."
"They can continue to be a dream team and keep dreaming," Jacobs added. "They're a great football team no question about it. We gotta see them again."
The Giants still have to show that they can finish a second half of a season strong after recent collapses. But at least they were able to finish off their NFC East nemesis for the first time in a long time.
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