Some incoherent thoughts and some off-the-mark observations in the wake of Sunday’s Lazarus-like resurrection against the Giants:
* Can the Eagles win a Super Bowl with a defense that already has given up 30 touchdown passes? Can they win one with a defense that has the worst red-zone rate (76.9) in the league in the last 22 years? Stay tuned. It looks like we’re going to find out.
The Eagles gave up 4 more touchdown passes Sunday, which makes 12 in the last 4 games and the afore-mentioned 30 in 14 games. That’s 3 more than last year and one more than any Eagles team ever has allowed. The only 2 teams in the league that have given up more TD passes this year than the Eagles are Dallas and Houston. Both have given up 31. Both also are 5-9.
* Until the last 3 ½ minutes Sunday when they made a pair of big stops, the Eagles’ defense wasn’t very good on third down Sunday.
The Giants converted 8 of 17 third-down opportunities. Eli Manning completed 8 of 14 third-down passes for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the plus side, Manning also threw a third-down interception and was sacked once on third down. Manning and the Giants managed to convert 5 third downs of 7 yards or more. Until Sunday, the Eagles actually had done a pretty good job against the pass on third down. In their previous 8 games, the Eagles had held opponents to a .508 completion percentage and a 43.3 passer rating on third down. In the Eagles’ first win over the Giants in Week 11, Manning was just 4-for-9 for 43 yards on third down. What a difference a month made.
* LeSean McCoy has really developed into a very dependable blocker. On Vick’s game-tying 13-yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin, McCoy helped give him the necessary time to make the throw by picking up blitzing safety Deon Grant.
* The Eagles' usually effective screen game, hasn’t been very effective the last 2 games. They threw 2 screens to McCoy on Sunday. He picked up 5 yards on one, lost a yard on the other. The week before against the Cowboys, they also threw 2 screens to McCoy. One resulted in a 2-yard loss. The other went for no gain.
* I think the Eagles will be OK with Kurt Coleman at free safety. The rookie seventh-rounder played well Sunday. When the Eagles were trailing 31-24 and needed a stop on third-and-8, he helped get it with a perfectly timed blitz that forced an incompletion. Earlier in the second half, he dropped 260-pound Brandon Jacobs for a 2-yard loss on a run play.
* The Eagles didn’t use wide receiver/running back Chad Hall nearly as much Sunday as they did against the Cowboys. He was on the field for just 3 plays from scrimmage against the Giants, compared to 18 the week before against Dallas. He lined up at wide receiver twice in a 5-wide receiver set, and also lined up as the lone back in a four-wide, 1-back set. Didn’t have any touches.
* The Eagles went with 4- or 5-wide receiver sets just 6 times in 59 offensive plays against the Giants. All 6 were pass plays. Vick completed 3 of 5 passes for 22 yards and was sacked once out of the formations.
* The Eagles used 2-tight end sets on just 11 of 59 plays Sunday against the Giants. A week earlier against the Cowboys, 21 of 55 plays were out of 2-TE formations. The fact that they were behind most of the game had a lot to do with that.
* The Eagles did an effective job of shutting down the Giants’ ground game. The Giants, who had averaged 181.7 rushing yards per game the previous 3 games, were held to 100 yards on 31 carries. In 2 games against the Giants, the Eagles held them to 161 yards on 50 carries (3.2 yards per carry. The Giants had just one double-digit run, an 11-yarder by Brandon Jacobs. In the last 10 games, the Eagles have given up just 18 runs of 10 yards or more.
* The Giants matched up their corners with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on Sunday. Corey Webster stayed with Jackson most of the day and Terrell Thomas was on Maclin. Maclin had 2 TD catches, including a 13-yarder that tied the game with 1:15 left. in the fourth quarter. He caught the ball and spun away from Thomas.
* For the second straight week, Quintin Mikell had a diving interception, getting his arms under a Manning pass that was tipped by defensive lineman Darryl Tapp late in the first quarter.
* The NFL needs to do something about the NFC West, and quickly. Blow it up. Set it on fire. Park it on a drug corner and leave the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition. Swap it for the Mountain West Conference. Drive it off a cliff. Give it to the Kardahsians as a Christmas gift. Sell it to Oprah. Something. Anything. The Rams and Seahawks currently are leading the division with 6-8 records. One of these embarrassments is going get a postseason invitation while somebody else, probably either the 8-6 Packers or the 9-5 Giants is going to sitting the playoffs out.
* Thirty lashes to the assistant coach up in the booth who failed to tell Reid in no uncertain terms that he absolutely, positively needed to challenge DeSean Jackson’s fourth quarter fumble. The television replay, which they saw contrary to what Big Red claimed Monday, left no question that Giants linebacker Jon Goff had touched Jackson as he was going down, which would’ve negated the fumble and allowed the Eagles to retain possession.
* Rookie Jamar Chaney, who made his first start at middle linebacker, had an outstanding game against the run. He was in on a team-high 16 tackles and did a good job of shedding blocks and making plays. But he still is struggling with his coverage responsibilities in Sean McDermott’s defense. You saw that on Kevin Boss’s 8-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter that gave the Giants a 31-10 lead. Boss was Chaney’s responsibility, but he came off of him when he saw a crossing route in front of him. That left Boss open and a passing lane for Manning to get him the ball.
* If I were the Eagles, the team I would least want to see in the playoffs is the Giants. Yes, they’ve beaten them twice this season and six times in a row. But sweeping a team 3 times in the same season, especially one that took you to the mat in both of the first two games? I’d like their chances better against the Falcons in the Georgia Dome than at home in a Game 3 death match against the Giants. But that’s just me.
BY THE NUMBERS
* In 14 games, opposing tight ends have 69 receptions for 820 yards and 10 touchdowns against the Eagles, including one Sunday by the Giants’ Kevin Boss. Those 10 TDs match their season total from last year, when opposing TEs caught 102 passes for 1,079 yards.
* The Eagles have outscored their last 4 opponent 68-14 in the fourth quarter, including 28-7 on Sunday.They’ve scored 125 of their 412 points this season in the fourth quarter.
* The Eagles have scored 27 or more points 8 times this season. They are 8-0 in those games.
DID YOU NOTICE?
* Michael Vick had 5 passes tipped or batted Sunday. The Giants’ rookie defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had 2 of them. Defensive tackles Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard and safety Antrel Rolle each had one.
* The ``trips’’ formation the Eagles used on a first-down play late in the first quarter. They lined up Jason Avant, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin behind each other on the right side. Jackson got open deep on the play, but Vick didn’t have time to get the ball to him. He was flushed from the pocket and ran for 11 yards. Collected another 15 when he got hit out of bounds by Giants linebacker Jon Goff.
* The multitude of missed tackles by Eagles defenders.
* On the Giants’ second sack of Vick, they lined up Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora on the same side, with Tuck running a stunt around the outside. King Dunlap did a good job of staying with him and blocking him to the outside. But Umenyiora’s inside rush prevented Vick from stepping up and he ran right into Tuck’s arms.
* Dimitri Patterson did a nice job of hanging on to Mario Manningham’s third-quarter fumble. Ernie Sims came sliding in and almost knocked the ball out of bounds, which would have allowed the Giants to retain possession. But Patterson managed to hold on to it even as Sims was colliding with him. The Eagles converted that turnover into their first touchdown to make it 24-10.
* DeSean Jackson didn’t have his first reception until there were 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
* Justin Tuck did a much better job of coping with those slant blocks by tight end Clay Harbor than DeMarcus Ware did last week.
* Jeremy Maclin, who had 2 touchdown catches, almost had a third early in the fourth quarter. He beat cornerback Terrell Thomas on a post route. But as was the case most of the game, Vick was under duress and was unable to step into his throw. He underthrew the pass, allowing Thomas enough time to recover and force an incompletion.
* The nice blocks by pulling guard Max Jean-Gilles and LeSean McCoy on the 5-yard quarterback draw by Vick for a touchdown with 5:28 left to close it to 31-24.
* Safety Quintin Mikell was shaken up on his near-interception on the Giants’ final possession. He dove for a pass for tight end Kevin Boss and accidentally slammed his head on the ground. If the game had gone into overtime, there’s a good chance Mikell wouldn’t have been allowed to play. He stayed on the field for the next play, but was being examined by the team’s training and medical staff during DeSean Jackson’s game-winning punt return.
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