Today is December 26, 2021 and the Philadelphia Eagles control a playoff spot after knocking off a terrible but hard-hitting New York Giants (4-11) team 34-10 at the Linc.
After the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Minnesota Vikings 30-23, the Birds moved into the seventh seed in the NFC.
The Eagles (8-7) struggled through the first half of what was viewed as a mop-up revenge game against a woeful Giants team that was starting Jake Fromm at quarterback.
Through their first five offensive series, the Eagles produced exactly zero points. The home team trailed 3-0 at the first half two-minute warning. How bad was the offense? On the fifth series…with 7:11 left in the first half, Eagles usually reliable field goal kicker Jake Elliott missed a 41–yard try.
The Birds finally got on the board after yet another drive stalled at the Giants four-yard line. Elliott hit a 22-yard field to ties the score 3-3 at exactly the two minute mark.
At the half, quarterback Jalen Hurts and the rest of the offense did some soul-searching and found their groove reeling off 31 consecutive points, turning the game into a blowout.
The offensive outburst was ignited by a big turnover on the second play from scrimmage by the Giants to start the third quarter when veteran safety Rodney McLeod intercepted a Fromm pass at the Giants 45-yard line.
The ten-year veteran out of Virginia returned the ball to the Giants 21.
Five plays later running back Boston Scott scored on a three-yard TD to give the Birds a 10-3 lead.
“It was huge,” McLeod said after the game. “Coming out in the second half, to be able to put our team in a position that I was able to, I think it created a lot of momentum. That is what we talked about at half time; coming out and showing who wanted it more. I think we responded the right way. My interception helped. We just kept rolling from there.”
The Eagles never looked back.
With the defense dominating, Birds offense went on a scoring spree.
With 7:48 left in the third, Elliott hit a 37-yarder to go up 13-3. Next, DeVonta Smith did his high-wire act on the edge of the end zone putting up six on a four-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles, who are 6-2 over their last eight games, a 20-3 cushion.
The play was reviewed twice to make sure the rookie was in bounds.
Smith said he knew the touchdown was good.
Smith was asked how much of getting his toenails inbound is body control compared to awareness:
“A lot of it,” said Smith who finished with five catches for 80 yards. “With your momentum, you have to know how to have your feet and things like that and what you can do.”
BIG MAN GETS HIS HANDS ON THE BALL
The Eagles made the score 27-3 when head coach Nick Sirianni called for a pass play to All Pro tackle Lane Johnson with 11:40 left in the fourth quarter.
It was second-and-goal from the five. Johnson had reported as eligible. Hurts hit Johnson wide open in the end zone for and easy score.
Johnson have his thoughts to a team official in the locker room after the game (locker room is still not open over COVID protocols).
“The play was called ‘East Texas’ because Jalen is from East Texas and I’m from East Texas,” Johnson was quoted as saying. “I knew we were going to run it if we were ahead. We had this play for a few years, or at least I’ve had a couple of times but we were always down.
“My job is to block the defensive end and then try to create some separation. I don’t know who was behind me. I know Jalen whizzed that thing in there. What was worrying me was that I was wearing those thumb guards that are all like plastic, so I can’t really bend my thumb.
“I’m just glad I caught it and after that, I tried to do a Lambeau Leap, but I guess our gates are pretty tall.”
Since Johnson did not make himself available in person at a post game press conference to talk about his big play, Hurts answered some questions about the scoring pass to his 6-foot-6, 325 pound receiver.
Hurts, who finished17 of 29 for 199 yards, two TD passes and a QB rating of 102.5, was asked what he saw on the touchdown pass to Johnson and how happy they were to see him get into the end zone?
“I’ll just say this…whoever votes they motivate him,” Hurts said. “He was very motivated all week by not making the Pro Bowl.
“I’m happy we got him one. We exchanged jerseys after the game actually, because I’ve never thrown a touchdown to an offensive tackle. But he’s a freak athlete. I’ve never thrown a touchdown to an offensive tackle and I gave my jersey, signed it, gave it to him, and he gives me his jersey and leaves it in my locker.“
Hurts continued his terrific story.
“And he wrote on there: When I caught that ball I didn’t know what to think. All I could think was, ‘What you know about them Texan boys?’ It’s so much fun to see him out there making plays like that and obviously playing at such a high level like he has all year at tackle. I know he may not be in the Pro Bowl, but he better be First-Team All-Pro, for the player he is.”
Hurts was asked if he ad to let up on the velocity of the throw.
“I worked out with Lane a lot in the offseason,” Hurts said. “He was equipped and well prepared.”
Hurts was asked if Johnson always caught the touchdown pass in practice. Hurts just smiled.
“Yeah. He played quarterback in high school.”
Finally Hurts was asked whether Lane Johnson’s touchdown meant more to the team because of what he went through this season:
“I think it’s a testimony of perseverance and obviously being strong,” Hurts said. “Lane knows that his teammates have his back, he knows that I have his back. Going through the things he went through earlier in the season, obviously being able to come back and be with us and be part of our football team and our offense I’m happy for him. I’m happy he’s good.”
DEFENSE SCORES AGAIN
The Eagles finished the scoring for the day from another unexpected source when linebacker Alex Singleton intercepted a Mike Glennon pass at the Giants 29-yard line and returned for a touchdown.
Glennon came in for Fromm to stop the bleeding. Fromm was 6 of 17 for 25 yards and an interception. He was sacked twice.
Glennon didn’t do much better in relief going 17 of 27 for 93 yards, a TD pass in garbage time and the pick-six.
Singleton was asked what the score meant to him not that he’s been in the league for a few years.
“It’s nice. Obviously it’s exciting to be able to do that,” the third-year pro out of Montana said. “I’ve scored two years in a row in the NFL. I scored once in college my sophomore year. I kind of don’t get those opportunities. For me to just play in the NFL is a privilege every week.
"To have those opportunities and be able to do this for this team, in the way we’re trending, the guys in that locker room, it’s exciting to be able to do that. Just continue to press on because we know what’s in front of us. Obviously it’s Washington and hopefully we continue to roll.”
Stats-wise Miles Sanders finished with seven carries for 45 yards. He left the game shortly after halftime with a hand injury and did not return.
Boston Scott recorded 12 carries for 41 yards and his TD. Jordan Howard rushed for 37 yards on nine carries before leaving with a stinger in the second half.
Their status for Washington next week is unknown.
Linebacker T,J Edwards finished with 16 overall tackles (six solo). Singleton finished with 11 total tackles (nine solo).
HURTS REFLECTS ON AN INCONSISTANT OFFENSE
While the score shows the Eagles blew out the Giants, the scoreboard showed it was still 3-3 at the half.
The would-up Linc crowd looking for a first-round knockout was upset and booed their team coming off the field at the half. Hurts was asked about the game being a tale of two halves.
“I think it’s another week where we’ve come out and obviously not executed like we wanted to,” Hurts said. “I’ve always admired, from day one, the fight of this team, the resiliency of this team, the grit, and perseverance of this team. You look at this football team right now and I just think we have so much character. So much character in how we do things, how we operate, what we strive for, how we work every day, and how we’re able to overcome. I was very happy about that today.” *