With four regular season games remaining, the Birds now push to clinch a first-round bye
EAST RUTHORFORD: The Philadelphia Eagles needed this game to keep their two-game lead in the NFC East over the Dallas Cowboys intact and maintain their game and half lead over the Minnesota Vikings for NFC supremacy and the coveted top seed and the upcoming playoffs.
The Eagles (12-1) did all that and more as the Birds dominated every phase of the game en route to a 48-22 win over the New York Football Giants at rain-soaked MetLife Stadium.
The Eagles clinched a playoff spot for the second consecutive season under head coach Nick Sirianni.
Eagles linebacker T. J. Edwards admitted it was pretty cool to be the first team to grab a postseason berth.
“It’s definitely one of our goals,” said Edwards who recorded six tackles (two solo). “It’s a great feeling. We had a really good game today. Obviously we have some things to clean up. But we’re really excited about the way we came out played and fought today.
“I thought the energy we brought to snap one was awesome. We have to start fast. We did that today. It feels good.”
They hit some milestones along the way.
Miles Sanders totaled a career-high 144 yards rushing on 17 attempts (8.5 yards per carry) and 2 TDs. Sanders has rushed 204 times for 1,068 yards and 11 TDs on the season, all of which are career highs.
Sanders has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career. He is the first Eagles RB to reach the 1,000-yard mark since LeSean McCoy in 2014 (1,319).
His teammate Boston Scott said he was happy for Sanders.
“He’s worked so hard, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs together,” said Scott, who rushed six times for 33 yards and a touchdown and added three kick returns for 117 yards including a 66-yard return that set up a Jake Elliott field goal. “I’m glad to be alongside him as he’s going through his journey. But we’ve still got goals. We’ve still got things to achieve. He’s still going to be hungry. He’s still going to keep working. I know a lot of people see him with the ball in his hands. What people don’t realize is what he does without the ball in his hands. And that’s pretty special too. He’s been really improving in all aspect of his game.”
EAGLES JUMP OUT TO 21-0 LEAD
The Eagles first drive went 14 plays, 84 yards, ending with a 3-yard TD run by Miles Sanders. Birds lead 7-0. 4:14 left in the first quarter.
The next score was a twelve-play, 91-yard drive that finished with a Pro Bowl, back-breaking 41-yard TD pass from Jalen Hurts to DeVonta Smith - on fourth and seven...Eagles lead 14-0.
The Giants started to circle the drain with 8:34 remaining in the second quarter when after a stalled drive, Giants punter Jamie Gillan, nicknamed the “Scottish Hammer” because he was born in Scotland, lost his train of thought and dropped the clean snap, then booted the ball not unlike a drop kick, which apparently is illegal. Big Blue suffered a loss of down ...plus 10 yards...Eagles started their drive first and ten at the Giants 33-yard line
It took the Birds all of eight seconds to connect on a Hurts to A.J. Brown 33-yard score to go up 21-0.
The Giants could not get out of their own way even with the football gods smiled in their favor.
After another Giants stalled drive, the Scottish Hammer hit a very nice punt that pinned the Birds at their own eight-yard line.
After the Eagles allowed an eleven-yard sack that put the ball at their own two-yard line, special teams reared its ugly head again for the Birds.
Elerson Smith blocked Arryn Siposs' punt at the Eagles two. Siposs recovered the blocked punt and returned it to the 15-yard line.
Siposs' suffered a lower leg injury on the play and had to be helped off the field.
Three plays later, the Giants score a two-yard TD on a pass from Daniel Jones to Isaiah Hodgins
But Scott returns the ensuing kickoff 66 yards to the Giants 35.
The Eagles drove to the Giants 11-yard line and Jake Elliott, with kick returner Britain Covey effortlessly serving as holder for Siposs, drilled a 39-yard field goal to go up 24-7 at the half.
It was not much of a competition after that.
Hurts, Scott and Sanders added rushing touchdowns. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones scored on a one yard run late in the third quarter to make the score 27-14, but the result was never in doubt.
RECEIVER GIVES CREDIT TO PLAY CALLS
“Shane (Steichen) put us in good situations early on,” said Brown, who finished with four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. “We were making plays, Jalen was having a really good game, seeing the field. We maximized out opportunities.”
This the second week in a row the Birds defense handled and elite running back. Last week it was Derrick Henry of the Titans, this week Saquon Barkley.
Barkley, hampered by what he called a stinger in his neck, rushed nine times for 28 yards.
“We want to stop the run, first and foremost,” Edwards said. “So that we can get to those long third downs and let out d-line do what they do, like they did today. We know how talented [the Giants] are and how well the quarterback can run as well. Today, we did a really good job…made them pay of third down.”
In the somber Giants locker room, players talked about letting this game go and focus on getting better for the Giants showdown in Washington next week against the Commanders.
Both teams are 7-5-1 with hopes of grabbing a Wild Card playoff spot.
Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas was asked if there as one thing he would like to see Big Blue correct right away.
“It’s not one thing, it’s a lot of things,” Thomas said at his locker after the game. “We have to open up the running lanes as an offensive line, protect DJ (Daniel Jones) a lot better. There’s a lot of things we need to do to get better.”
Defensive tackle Henry Mondeaux said he and his teammates will watch film and move on the Commanders.
“We have to treat it like any other game,” said Mondeaux, who recorded two solo tackles in the loss. “They outplayed us. They beat us, we lost. There’s some things we did well, things we didn’t do well. We’ve got to correct it and not let it get into our heads about it. They played a great game…all respect goes out to them, but we’ve got make out corrections and get ready for the next one because…it’s a big game next week.”
Daniel Jones was 18 of 27 for 169 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked four times Jones rushed four times for 26 yards and a touchdown.
The Giants scored a garbage time touchdown when backup Tyrod Taylor passed to Richie James for a 19 yard touchdown (2pt attempt converted, Taylor pass to Isaiah Hodgins).
Jalen Hurts was 21 of 31 for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Hurts rushed seven times for 77 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked four times. No turnovers.
DeVonta Smith caught passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Brandon Graham had three sacks. Fletcher Cox recorded a sack.
The Eagles move on to take on the struggling Chicago Bears on the road next Sunday.
Edwards was asked if he had any concerns about an Eagles letdown after the blowout.
“No shot,” Edwards said. “You know how we operate. We’re excited about this one. We’ll get our corrections tomorrow and be right back to work next week.” *
Email Al Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org