East Rutherford, NJ (AP) - The Eagles got great performances from Michael Vick and Steve Smith and the defense picked off Eli Manning 3 times en route to a hard fought 37-21 victory on the road against the New York Giants.
This was easily the toughest test of the season for Philadelphia. The Birds battled the elements, as it poured pretty much all game long at the new Meadowlands, and they also had to fight a game Giants team bent on revenge for a shutout earlier in the season.
"They certainly came to play tonight," said quarterback Michael Vick. "It really got to be like a heavyweight fight out there. They took some good shots, we took some good shots. We both kept getting up after getting knocked down. But in the end, we wanted it just a little bit more."
|VIDEO HIGHLIGHT: Alex Henery came through with a clutch 28 yard field goal that proved to be the game winner.|
The Eagles trailed multiple times throughout this contest in front of a nationally televised audience, with their perfect record on the line. It's the first time all season Philadelphia trailed both at halftime and to start the fourth quarter. But, Alex Henery put the Eagles in front for good early in the final quarter with a 28 yard field goal, and Philadelphia was able to tack on a little bit after that to help Eagles fans breathe a little easier.
"I'm actually glad we got pushed a little bit tonight," said head coach Andy Reid. "We haven't really faced a lot of adversity in games so far this season. So, to have to drive the ball down the field and take the lead back in the fourth quarter, and then do what we could to hold that lead, I was very pleased with how we met this challenge."
It's the second year in a row the Giants have given up a fourth quarter lead at home against the Eagles. The last time it happened was just before Christmas last year, better known as the "Miracle at the Meadowlands 2" by Eagles fans. Philadelphia trailed by 21 points midway through the fourth quarter, but made a ferocious comeback to tie the game. Then, DeSean Jackson embarked on his famous walk-off punt return for a touchdown as time expired to give the Birds the victory. This year wasn't quite as dramatic. Still, it was a fourth quarter comeback, nonetheless.
|The Eagles set the tone early, going for it on fourth down on a first quarter drive. Vick got the ball away just before taking a big hit.|
"We're never going to give up, it's just not us," said Jackson. "I'm glad we didn't have to come from quite as far behind as last year. But, having pulled that off, we know it can be done, and we know we always have a chance."
It was clear New York's offense came to play early on. The Giants took the ball on their first possession and marched it right down the field against Philadelphia's defense. They went 72 yards in seven plays, capped by a 25 yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks.
The Eagles moved the ball on their first possession, as well, driving 44 yards. However, the drive stalled at New York's 37 yard line. Alex Henery attempted a 54 yard field goal with the wind at his back, and it had the distance, but it missed wide right.
|Philly's secondary played big, picking off Eli Manning three times. This is one of two interceptions by Asante Samuel.|
However, Philadelphia got the ball right back. On the very next play, Manning tried to go deep, but Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted the pass at the Eagles 25 yardline.
That seemed to breathe new life into the offense, as the Birds moved the ball down the field once again. The drive nearly stalled at almost the same place in Giants territory, however. But, on 4th and 3, Reid decided to go for it, and Vick hit Steve Smith for a 14 yard gain to keep the drive going.
"That really gave us some momentum, I felt we needed to make that first down and keep going to try and score," said Reid.
The Vick-Smith connection is one that would happen several more times throughout the game. In fact, Smith ended up catching 10 balls for 138 yards in this one - the second straight game he's gone over 100 yards. In the last two games against the Cardinals and Giants, Smith has made 18 catches for 263 yards and a touchdown.
"Listen, Mike is going to hit whoever is open. The last couple of games, it's just happened to be me."
While the Giants had trouble stopping their former teammate, Philly couldn't contain New York's running game in the first half. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for more than 80 yards in the first two quarters, and they're ground game led to another New York touchdown for a 14-7 lead.
|VIDEO HIGHLIGHT: McCoy scores from 14 yards out to take a 20-14 lead in the third quarter.|
Philadelphia had two opportunities to try and tie the game and take the lead late in the half. But instead, the Birds had to settle with two field goals. That included a golden opportunity with just over two minutes left, when Asante Samuel intercepted Manning at the New York 16 yard line. But, the Eagles only picked up three yards after that and had to kick a field goal to make it a 14-13 game at halftime.
In the third quarter, both teams traded punts on their first possessions. Then, Philadelphia went on a 6 play, 60 yard drive to take a 20-14 lead. The drive was capped by a 14 yard run up the middle by LeSean McCoy, who had struggled through much of the first half, gaining just 25 yards. But, his production really picked up in the second half, as McCoy would ultimately rush for more than 100 yards for the 10th straight game and cross the 1,500 yard threshold for the season.
"They were really keying on me in the first half," admitted McCoy. "But, the offensive line did a great job opening up more holes for me in the second half, and I was able to run downhill more."
Once again, however, the Giants refused to go away. New York marched back down the field late in the third quarter, ultimately scoring on a 12 yard touchdown pass from Manning to Domenik Hixon to take the lead back. The Giants converted on two key third down plays, including the touchdown pass.
|VIDEO HIGHLIGHT: Maclin's touchdown catch gives the Eagles some breathing room midway through the fourth quarter.|
But, that's where New York's offense seemed to run out of gas. The Eagles took the ball back down the field, and while the drive ultimately stalled at the Giants 11, Alex Henery was clutch with his third field goal of the game to give the Birds a 23-21 lead with 11:23 left. Philadelphia would stay in front for good the rest of the way.
The Eagles, known for much of the season as a team that strikes quickly, went on an extended 8 play, 74 yard drive later in the quarter that was capped by a 27 yard touchdown pass from Vick to Jeremy Maclin on third and 15. That gave Philly a 9 point cushion. Then, after a three-and-out, the Eagles took the ball back and went into clock-killing mode with 6:10 left in the game. They ran the ball 9 out of 10 plays, driving 62 yards over 4:22, scoring the final, back-breaking touchdown of the game.
"That's what winning football teams do," said Vick. "They score when the game's on the line, and then run the clock out when it's necessary. We played winning football tonight."
The one loss Philadelphia did suffer was Moise Fokou. The linebacker suffered a broken collarbone in the third quarter. He's going to be out 6-8 weeks. The training staff hopes to get him ready for the playoffs.
Up next for the Eagles is another tough matchup that will certainly put their perfect record on the line again. Philadelphia hosts Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in what could be a Super Bowl preview. The Pats are about as hot as Philly, having reeled off 7 straight wins.
|Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants|
|Nov 20, 2011||1ST||2ND||3RD||4TH||SCORE|
|Philadelphia Eagles (10-0)||0||13||7||17||37|
|New York Giants (5-5)||7||7||7||0||21|
|Punt Return Yards||24||5|
|Kick Return Yards||34||131|
|3rd Down Converstion||6-14 (42%)||4-9 (44%)|
|4th Down Conversion||1-1 (100%)||0-0|
|Red Zone Touchdowns/Field Goals||4/3||2/0|