Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles escaped with their third victory of the season on Sunday night, 19-17, over the New York Giants. The win improves the Eagles to 3-1 on the year and drops the Giants to 2-2.
For an Eagles/Giants game, this one wasn’t as exciting as they usually are. Yes, it came down to the wire on a final field goal attempt by the Giants to try and win it, but the game didn’t really have the signature big-plays that usually define the rivalry of recent years.
The game was more about the defense playing well and being efficient on offense.
However, on a night when the Eagles honored the great Brian Dawkins, it was good to see a well-balanced game and of course, get the win.
On to the awards…
Though there weren’t many big plays or otherwise attention-grabbing moments, there were some things that deserve props, or “Way To Go guys!” (WTG!) –
Michael Vick. His stats weren’t astounding (19 out of 30 for 241 yards and 1 TD), but the biggest thing is that he did not turn the ball over. That, in and of itself, deserves a big WTG Vick!
After 9 turnovers in 3 games, it was nice to finally see him go an entire game without turning it over. In fact, none of the Eagles turned the ball over so we actually were able to play 60 minutes of turnover-free football. WTG! (I have to admit, there’s a “WTF” in that statement somewhere)
LeSean McCoy. After being bottled up in the first half along with the rest of the Eagles’ rushers (1 yard on 8 carries total in the first half), McCoy broke loose in the second half and finished the game with 123 yards on 23 carries.
I don’t cheer any injury, but damn, the juke that McCoy put on Giants safety Kenny Phillips caused Phillips to leave the game with a knee sprain. It was McCoy’s shiftiness that made Phillips get all twisted up so that made the unfortunate injury something of a “wow factor.”
Unfortunately, the play was called back due to a penalty. Figures.
DeSean Jackson. He led the Eagles in receiving with 6 catches for 99 yards and their lone touchdown of the game. He also came up with a nice 11 yard catch that was initially ruled incomplete.
However, he knew he caught it cleanly and urged Andy Reid to challenge the call. Reid did, and the call was reversed. It turned what would have been a 3rd and 10 situation to a 1st and 10. Though they didn’t score on that possession, it did help in reversing a field position battle in the first quarter.
The offensive line. They weren’t exactly stellar, but Vick was only sacked twice and they gave him some time to throw. In the second half, they helped open things up for the running game to allow for a nicely balanced mix of running and passing throughout.
It’s worth noting that some individual linemen struggled at certain points, such as Demetress Bell getting abused by JPP and Todd Herremans getting beat, then holding and being penalized a few times.
Bell did make amends later in the game, albeit inadvertently. He saved what was sure to be a sack when he stepped back while pass-blocking but accidentally stepped on Antrel Rolle’s ankle. Rolle was coming in on a blitz and had a clear path to Vick, but Bell’s big-foot saved the day.
The line was also helped out a great bit by creatively designed chip blocks by the running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. But in general, the line played decent.
Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg. Yes, they deserve some props for calling a well-balanced run-pass ratio and sticking with the run-game in the second half even though they gained a grand total of 1 yard in the first half.
Nate Allen. He didn’t really stand out in any fashion, though he almost came up with a pick, but he was generally in good position most of the night. Maybe he was motivated by Brian Dawkins.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. After getting beat badly by Victor Cruz on a long pass play, he came right back and came up with a big INT in the end zone to stop a scoring opportunity for the Giants.
In a game decided by 2 points and a missed field goal, that was a crucial play by DRC and the game’s only turnover.
The defense in general. There weren’t many individuals that stood out and they never sacked Eli Manning, but they played well as a unit. They shut-down the running game and kept the receivers in check for the most part.
They held a prolific Giants offense to just 17 points and made them earn every single yard they gained.
Now for things that made me say WTF!…
The defensive penalties on 3rd and 4th down. The Eagles defense was penalized 3 times on third-down plays and once on a fourth-down play.
The first one was an illegal contact call on DRC on a failed 3rd and 2 play in the first quarter. The next one was an illegal use of hands penalty on Jason Babin on a failed 3rd and 17.
The last two came on the final drive as the Giants were trying to get into field goal range.
DRC was flagged for pass interference on a 4th and 1 play from the Giants’ 44 yard line. That gave the Giants a 1st and 10 at the 35. After 2 straight incompletions, the Giants faced a 3rd and 10 when Nnamdi Asomugha was flagged for pass interference on Ramses Barden that gave New York a 1st and 10 again, now at the Eagles’ 27 yard line.
Fortunately, the Giants got greedy and tried to go deep again but this time it was Ramses Barden that gets the flag for PI after he basically raped Nnamdi. It was that penalty that pushed the Giants back 10 yards and ultimately far enough to make the field goal attempt just out of reach for Lawrence Tynes.
Luckily for the Eagles, none of those defensive penalties led to a score for the Giants. But, more times than not, penalties on 3rd down that give the offense a fresh set of downs usually kill you in the end.
Since we’re talking about the end of the game, I may as well mention that I can’t stand the whole “ice the kicker” mentality.
When Tynes missed his first attempt on that last field goal, my excitement quickly turned into a big WTF! when they said Reid had called a timeout just before the play. I was extremely annoyed at this point because I’ve always hated when coaches do that, especially my coach.
My thoughts at that moment were, “great, now Tynes will definitely make the second attempt.” And when he first kicked it, the ball was heading straight down the middle, unlike his first attempt that was sailing wide left.
Fortunately, it came up short. Had Tynes made that kick, people would be calling for Reid’s head today.
NBC playing salsa music after the Victor Cruz touchdown. All I can say about that is…WTF?
Damaris Johnson. He has to get it through his head that he cannot field punts inside the 10 yard line! I’m sure Bobby April has told him enough times so it has to be a mental issue with Johnson.
The kickoff coverage unit. David Wilson of the Giants returned 6 kicks for 217 yards, which equates to a 36.2 yard per-return average. There were gaping holes for Wilson all night and the Giants had great starting field position after every kickoff.
Raise your hand if you thought that on the kickoff for the Giants’ final drive, they would be set up with killer starting field position and only need to drive about 20 yards to get into field goal range.
After fielding the kick about 2 yards deep in the end zone, Wilson was still able to take it up to the 35. This unit could have cost us the game. April better be reaming his players right about now.
Red zone offense. The Eagles went 1 for 4 in red zone trips last night. Settling for field goals instead of being able to cash in for touchdowns sometimes comes back to haunt a team.
The Eagles were stuffed on 3-straight rushing attempts from the one yard line on one occasion. I’m glad that they tried to run it in and don’t fault the play calling for that, but my only complaint is that they tried to run it outside each time.
They should have tried at least once to punch it up the gut.
The last trip to the red zone was the one that was most crucial. They were down by a point and had a first-and-goal at the 8-yard line with just over 2 minutes left. Everyone knew the Giants would have plenty of time on the clock to drive into field goal range so getting a TD here was critical.
Then, after McCoy runs for 4 yards on the first play and the Giants take a timeout, they had 2nd down from the 4. On second down, they handed off to LeSean McCoy…oh wait, no, it was Bryce Brown that carried that?
Why on earth is your best offensive player…the guy that’s been tearing it up in the second half…on the sideline in this situation? The Giants had taken a timeout so it couldn’t have been to give McCoy a breather.
That just baffles the hell out of me!
And even more baffling, on 3rd-and-goal, they decide to roll Vick out to the left and therefore cut the field in half and he ends up taking the sack. That was just a baffling sequence of plays at the game’s most critical time.
They needed the touchdown but instead called plays as if they were content with getting the field goal, and it damn near cost them the game.
All in all, the keys to the game were not turning the ball over and calling a well-balanced run-pass ratio. They still needed a missed field goal at the end, but that was after a wacky sequence of pass interference penalties…and the one call on Nnamdi was a pretty lame penalty at that.
So, the Eagles have now won 3 games by a total of 4 points. They’re getting it done so far, but for some reason I still feel really uneasy about this team.
Next up will be a tough game in Pittsburgh so the Eagles get another chance to prove themselves against a quality team.
A more convincing victory would be nice to see, I’m not sure how much more of these down-to-the-wire games I can take!