In many ways, this was the defense Juan Castillo had been telling us so much about.
The one that's showed up for a quarter, or two, or even three throughout the season. But also the one that's generally failed to show up for a full 60 minutes.
The charge was led by the front four. The Eagles had three sacks and 10 hits on Eli Manning, constantly creating disruption behind the line of scrimmage. They didn't blitz, sending extra pressure only once on 39 dropbacks.
The defensive line and linebackers made plays against the run. They forced two turnovers. And when a player missed a tackle, it was OK, because his teammates were generally hustling and swarming to the ball to clean up.
Manning completed 51.4 percent of his passes, his second-lowest mark of the season. And his QB rating of 74.0 was his lowest mark since Week 1 against the Redskins.
Here's a player-by-player look at the defensive performance after having re-watched the game:
Jason Babin - He made the play of the game. Just when it looked like the Eagles were on the verge of another fourth-quarter collapse, Babin sacked and stripped Manning from behind. He got decent pressure throughout. On an early third down, Babin got to Manning and helped force an incompletion. He helped disrupt a screen attempt on third down in the first. Babin and Cullen Jenkins crushed Manning on a second-quarter throw that was incomplete. And he got good pressure on Manning, forcing him out of the pocket on the 24-yard touchdown to Cruz. In the second, Da'Rel Scott gained 8 yards running at Babin. But overall, a very good game.
Cullen Jenkins - If I had to hand out a defensive game ball, Jenkins would get it. He was consistently creating havoc and never let Manning get comfortable in the pocket. Jenkins and Mike Patterson got to Manning for a sack in the second. He and Babin crushed Manning on a second-quarter throw that was incomplete. He lined up at right defensive end and pressured Manning on third down at the end of the first half, forcing him to throw the ball away. He hustled downfield and delivered a huge blow on D.J. Ware in the second quarter. He brought Brandon Jacobs down after a gain of 3 in the second. He got pressure up the middle on Manning on his first-down throw on the final possession. Jenkins went right around David Diehl and hit Manning, forcing an incompletion and an intentional grounding penalty on the final drive. Like I said, he was active, disruptive and appeared to be on a mission from the first snap to the final whistle.
Mike Patterson - He is quietly having a very good year and probably wins the Jim Washburn award for Most Improved Pass Rusher. Patterson and Jenkins got to Manning for a sack in the second. He and Cole dropped Jacobs after a 2-yard gain. He stuffed Jacobs for a loss of 1 in the third. And he brought Jacobs down for no gain in the first. Patterson was one of the keys to the Eagles' strong performance against the run, as the Giants averaged only 1.7 yards per carry on 17 attempts.
Trent Cole - Cole played well also. He dropped Jacobs after a gain of 3 on the Giants’ first offensive play. On one defensive alignment, he lined up at right defensive end, with Trevor Laws and Babin as the tackles and Jenkins at left defensive end. Later, he and Patterson dropped Jacobs after a 2-yard gain. He pressured Manning on the play where he fled the pocket and hit Hakeem Nicks for 47 yards. Cole probably got held on the play too. He got good pressure on the very next snap to help force an incompletion. Good hustle to help bring down Jacobs after a 3-yard completion on the final drive. Cole had a bad offsides penalty on 3rd-and-4 in the third, giving the Giants a first down.
Darryl Tapp - He was outstanding. Tapp is a rotational guy, who only played 20 snaps, but he made the most of them. He got good pressure early, but Manning stepped up and hit Cruz for 18 yards. He and Kurt Coleman dropped Jacobs for a 2-yard loss. He got pressure on Manning in the second, forcing him to dump it off to Ware. He hit Manning on a second-quarter incompletion. And he hit him again on a third-quarter incompletion. Excellent game from Tapp.
Juqua Parker - He played well also. Parker played 21 snaps. He and Tapp met at the quarterback, sacking Manning in the first. He got in Manning’s face, forcing an incompletion in the third. His pressure on the final drive forced Manning to step up into the arms of Jenkins, who helped force an incompletion and an intentional grounding. Parker looked healthy, after having only played three snaps the week before.
Trevor Laws - Good game from Laws. His penetration led to a 6-yard loss on a Ware run in the second. He helped Brian Rolle drop Jacobs for a 1-yard loss in the third. And he helped bring Jacobs down after a gain of 4 in the third.
Derek Landri - Still trying to figure out how this guy wasn't on an NFL roster when the season began. He got good push up the middle, but Manning stepped up and hit Cruz for 18 yards. He and Akeem Jordan dropped Ware after a 2-yard gain in the first. Great hustle by Landri and Tapp to assist on a tackle after Cruz caught an 8-yard pass in the second. He knocked down a Manning pass at the line of scrimmage in the third. And he and Rolle dropped Jacobs after a gain of 2 in the fourth. Landri only played 19 snaps, but was once again very active.
Jamar Chaney - He was active and made a few really nice plays, even though there were some bad moments along the way for Chaney. He created one of the Eagles' two turnovers, intercepting Manning in the first half. Chaney put a big hit on Ware after a 1-yard gain in the second. He broke up a pass for Jake Ballard in the third. On the flip side, it looked like he blew the coverage early when Ballard ran free, but he dropped the pass. He got blocked on Scott’s 8-yard run in the second. Ballard got behind him for what could have been a big gain in the second, but he dropped it again. He missed a tackle on Ware in the second. He missed another tackle on Ware after a dumpoff, allowing him to pick up a first down in the second. There was quite a bit of confusion on the 47-yard completion to Cruz right before the Babin sack. Cris Collinsworth indicated Chaney was probably supposed to cover him, as the Eagles blitzed Joselio Hanson and Keenan Clayton.
Brian Rolle - Outstanding game from Rolle. He dropped Ware for a 6-yard loss in the second and then proceeded with a machine gun celebration. Wonder if he'll get fined for that? He sniffed out a screen in the third and dropped Jacobs for no gain. He blew up Kevin Booth, pushing him back into Jacobs for a 1-yard loss in the third. He and Landri stopped Jacobs after a gain of 2 in the fourth. He had good coverage on Jacobs and put a good hit on him on a fourth-quarter incompletion. Rolle played fewer snaps this week, as Clayton replaced him in certain nickel situations, but he played very well.
Akeem Jordan - The Eagles were mostly in nickel, meaning Jordan only played 20 snaps. He and Landri dropped Ware after a 2-yard gain in the first. He put the big hit on Jacobs on 3rd-and-1 in the second, forcing the Giants to punt. He got in the backfield, but missed a tackle on Ware in the second. Rolle and other Eagles were right behind him though to clean up.
Keenan Clayton - He saw his most significant action of the season, playing 24 snaps in nickel situations. Clayton looked good in coverage, although he missed some tackles. He was matched up with Nicks in the second and had pretty good coverage as Nicks dropped the ball. He missed a tackle on Ware on the play where Jenkins crushed him downfield. He had good coverage on Nicks, but missed the tackle on 3rd-and-11 in the third. He did an outstanding job of tackling Cruz 1 yard short of the first down on 3rd-and-11 in the third. And Clayton had good coverage on Manning’s 3-yard completion to Jacobs on the final drive, even though he failed to wrap him up. My guess is his coverage skills were good enough to earn him a similar amount of playing time going forward.
Asante Samuel - I thought it was interesting that Manning went after Asomugha more than Samuel. Samuel had outstanding coverage on Nicks on a deep ball in the first. The Giants wide receiver almost made a great catch, but couldn’t hold on to it while going to the ground. Samuel and Clayton forced Jacobs out of bounds 2 yards short of a first down in the third. The Eagles were good in coverage, which helped the pass rush. Good game out of Samuel.
Nnamdi Asomugha - Manning threw in his direction at least five times by my count. Asomugha somehow lost Cruz, giving up the 24-yard touchdown in the fourth. He was also called for a holding penalty against Nicks in the third. Asomugha made a nice tackle in run support on Scott, possibly forcing a fumble, but the Giants recovered (and Scott might have been down). Manning threw at him in the first, but Asomugha had good coverage on the incompletion. Manning went after him deep on 3rd-and-11 in the first to Nicks, but came away empty again.
Joselio Hanson - Something I didn't notice until I re-watched was that Hanson played both inside and outside. He played several snaps at right cornerback, and Asomugha moved inside. He got beat early on an 18-yard completion to Cruz. And again for an 8-yard gain on 3rd-and-6 in the second. Hanson did an outstanding job of bringing Nicks down well short of the first-down marker on 3rd-and-11 in the third. As I said on Twitter, he is the Eagles' best-tackling cornerback. The rest of them are tied for fourth.
Nate Allen - Not a very good game for Allen, as his fingerprints were all over a couple big plays in the second half. I’m really not sure what happened on the play where Nicks caught the 47-yarder from Manning. Allen was looking back at the ball, but I guess he just lost track of where he was and failed to make a play. He had a shot to bring Cruz down after a 13-yard gain on the final drive, but missed, and it turned into a 47-yard pickup. Early on, he stopped Jacobs after a 2-yard gain in the first.
Kurt Coleman - Coleman was relatively quiet, but made some nice plays. He and Tapp dropped Jacobs for a 2-yard loss in the first. He brought Scott down after a gain of 3 in the third. And he nearly had an interception in the fourth on a play where Ballard slipped.
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