Despite kicking miscues, the Eagles have taken a 17-7 lead by running to set up the pass, just the way the Giants do.
Les Bowen, Daily News Staff Writer
Updating with 2:09 left: 20-7, the Eagles managed to not get a field goal attempt blocked, after a marathon seven-minute, 17-second drive, that went only 46 yards, using 14 plays, all but one of them runs. They lead 20-7, but you know how that earlier meeting wasn't as close as the final score? This one isn't, either. The other way.
Who'd a thunk?
Some numbers: a career-high 34 carries for Brian Westbrook, for 132 yards. Eagles 145 rushing yards, Giants 88. Eli Manning 7-for-21 heading into the two-minute warning. Eagles' playoff hopes: Alive, at least until next week.
Updating in the fourth: Amazingly enough, the snow swirling about from time to time at the Meadowlands is not blue, though you would think so from what's happening on the field. The Eagles, kept from an overpowering lead more by the misadventures of their kicking game than by anything the Giants have done, just took a 17-7 lead on a 40-yard catch-and-run by Brian Westbrook, isolated against linebacker Antonio Pierce.
The Eagles are running to set up the pass, like a real NFC East power. The Giants just lost Brandon Jacobs to a knee injury, and Eli Manning is throwing from his back foot.
We're a long way from done, but this sure would perk up the stretch drive a bit, if the Birds hold on.
Updating in the third: Another efficient drive, another field goal fiasco. This time, David Akers barely got it to the end zone from 34 yards. It seemed that Terrell Thomas, diving in from the side, got a piece of it.
So that's two makeable field goals that aren't on the board, and a Giants touchdown that is on the board, but shouldn't be. The Birds are minus-13 in the screwup department. Will Rory Segrest be on the bus when it heads down the turnpike later?
Updating at halftime: Well, you probably saw it. Ten-nothing Eagles lead, driving efficiently for a field goal at the halftime gun and a 13-0 lead over the best team in the league, the Eagles showed us ... why they are the Eagles.
For the second time this season, David Akers had a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown. The other time it happened, on a 54-yarder at San Francisco, the opposition was so hapless the Birds overcame the horrendous turnaround and won anyway. That might not be the case today.
A hard-running (yes, hard-running) 77-yard, 10-play drive gave the Eagles the game's first touchdown. Brian Westbrook caught the New Yorkers in a safety blitz and jetted right up the middle, 30 yards for the score. At that point, it was 10-0, with 1:52 left in the half, and the Birds had 13 passes and 13 runs, which seemed nothing short of a miracle, barring the other explanation, an unannounced coaching change.
When the defense held and the Eagles took over on downs at their 42, Donovan Mc Nabb moved them smoothly downfield, despite having no timeouts remaining. McNabb's 7-yard pass to Greg Lewis put the ball at the Giants' 14 with seven seconds left.
But Akers drove the ball low, into a bitter wind, and Justin Tuck barely had to reach up to block it. The ball was scooped by corner Kevin Dockery, who shook off a Todd Herremans tackle attempt and danced 71 yards for the touchdown that made it 10-7. The Eagles were still leading, but from the reaction of the Giants and their crowd going into halftime, that didn't seem to matter.
Earlier: David Akers' longest field goal of the season, 51 yards, gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter.
Jim Johnson's defense was tremendous on the Giants' first three possessions; the first time they had the ball, the New Yorkers dissed the D by going for it on fourt-and-4 from the Eagles' 30. Their pass was incomplete.
In the early going, the Giants didn't have anywhere near the kind of running success they enjoyed in the earlier meeting, Nov. 9, when they rushed for 219 yards in a 36-31 victory.
Stay tuned for updates.