A closer look at Sunday’s 27-24 win over the Giants and the five biggest reasons for the win:
The Eagles’ first run play Sunday gained 1 yard. So did their second one. The third one gained just 3.
On another day, that might’ve been enough to persuade Doug Pederson to bag the run and focus on the passing game. But on this particular afternoon, he had the good sense to stick with it, and it paid off.
The Eagles’ 193 rushing yards were their most since they rushed for 208 in their Week 10 win over the Falcons last year. Their 39 carries were their most since they had 45 in a Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys in 2014.
Their offensive line, particularly center Jason Kelce and guards Stefen Wisniewski and Brandon Brooks, dominated the Giants’ front seven. The Eagles averaged an impressive 6.1 yards per carry on first down. Their running backs, who had averaged just 3.1 yards per carry on 33 attempts in the first two games, averaged 5.2 on 33 carries.
The Eagles’ four running backs had six double-digit-yard runs – including 20-yarders by LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood — 10 rushing first downs and two rushing touchdowns.
Wisniewski, who rotated with Chance Warmack at left guard in place of the benched Isaac Seumalo, played 44 of 76 snaps, and had a number of big blocks, including one on safety Landon Collins during Corey Clement’s 15-yard touchdown run.
In their first two games, the Giants had managed to get inside their opponents’ 20-yard line just three times, which equaled the fewest in the league. On Sunday, they visited the red zone five times, but the Eagles’ injury-ravaged defense held them to two TDs.
Late in the second quarter, after Pederson’s foolish decision to go for it on fourth-and-8 from the New York 43, the Giants drove to the Philadelphia 1. They caught a big break when Sterling Shepard beat cornerback Rasul Douglas in the end zone, but couldn’t hang on to the ball when he hit the ground.
Then, on fourth down, Vinny Curry made one of the biggest plays of his career, getting penetration and stopping Giants running back Orleans Darkwa for a 1-yard loss.
In the third quarter, with the Eagles up, 14-0, the Giants had a third-and-2 at the Philadelphia 13. Cornerback Jalen Mills, who would later get worked over pretty good by his former LSU teammate, Odell Beckham Jr., broke up a pass for Shepard.
On fourth-and-2, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan managed to get pressure on Eli Manning as he targeted Shepard once again. It affected the velocity of the throw just enough to allow cornerback Patrick Robinson to reach around Shepard with his left arm and break up the pass.
Before the 61-yard game-winner, Jake Elliott had to convert a 46-yard field goal with 51 seconds left that tied the game at 24. There was a lot more pressure on him on that kick than the 61-yarder that nobody except him and maybe special-teams coordinator Dave Fipp believed he could make.
If he missed the 46-yarder, not only might the Eagles be 1-2 today, but they’d probably also be shopping for a new kicker. But his kick was dead-solid perfect.
As for the 61-yard game-winner, the Eagles might want to give a game ball, or at least an “atta boy’’ to the clock operator, who may have spared the Eagles a second on Carson Wentz’s sideline throwaway just before his 19-yard completion to Alshon Jeffery, which made Elliott’s 61-yard attempt with 1 second left possible.
Anyway, Elliott appears to have bought himself at least a couple of weeks worth of job security.
A Wing and a penalty
Giants punter Brad Wing came into the game averaging 46.2 yards per attempt, which was the 12th-highest gross average in the league. Boomed a 57-yarder in the third quarter. But with just 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the game tied, he had a 29-yard shank that gave the Eagles a first down at their own 38.
That special-teams gaffe allowed the Eagles to get in position for Elliott’s game-winning field goal with just one Carson Wentz completion — a 19-yarder near the right sideline to Alshon Jeffery.
The Giants also shot themselves in the foot on their previous possession thanks to an absolutely stupid, stupid penalty by right guard John Jerry.
On a third-and-2 at the Philadelphia 18, the Giants ran a quick no-huddle play, with Manning completing a 7-yard pass to running back Paul Perkins that would’ve given the Giants a first down at the 11.
But before the snap, Jerry had grabbed Eagles defensive tackle Elijah Qualls, who was trying to get off the field. The zebras spotted it and correctly flagged Jerry for delay of game.
That negated the completion to Perkins and turned a third-and-2 into a third-and-7, which the Giants failed to convert. They had to settle for a 41-yard Aldrick Rosas field goal that gave them a three-point lead rather than a possible seven-point advantage.
Wentz’s fourth quarter
Carson Wentz’s passing numbers hardly were remarkable Sunday. He had 21 completions, just one of which was longer than 14 yards. He averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt and threw just one touchdown pass.
But he saved his best for crunch time, completing six of nine passes for 78 yards on the Eagles’ final three scoring drives in the fourth quarter, including his huge 19-yard completion to Alshon Jeffery that gave Jake Elliott his chance to be a hero.
Wentz had struggled on second down in the first two games, completing just 12 of 26 passes and averaging 5.4 yards per attempt. Against the Giants, he was 8-for-10 and averaged 7.0 yards per attempt on second down. The Eagles had just eight passing first downs, but five of them came on second down.
Then there was his running. It’s clear that Doug Pederson is not going to be reluctant to use the 6-5, 235-pound Wentz on quarterback sneaks. He did it on a fourth-and-1 on the Eagles’ 18-play, 90-yard touchdown drive in the first half. And he did it again on a fourth-and-1 on a third-quarter touchdown drive that put the Eagles up 14-0.
Wentz also had an 11-yard scramble for a first down on a third-and-8 play on that 18-play drive.
Wentz has made it clear that he is a thrower first. But his mobility is one of the things that appealed to the Eagles when they drafted him. Both because he can extend plays, but also because he can move the chains with his legs.
He already has six rushing first downs, which is as many as Russell Wilson and Cam Newton and one more than Aaron Rodgers. Last year, he had 17 the entire season.