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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson

STORY AND NOTES FROM EAGLES ROCK-BOTTOM LOSS TO BIG BLUE

Eagles get one last chance to save the season on Monday in Tampa Bay in NFC Wild Card round. Jalen Hurts injured throwing hand in loss.


Eagles quarterback Marcus Mariota fumbles during the Eagles stunning 27-10 loss to the Giants on Sunday. He wa sin for injured Jalen Hurts. Photo by Jess Garber

EAST RUTHERFORD: Talking to a league official at the half of the Eagles loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, he said he thinks most teams that go deep into the playoffs...like the Eagles did in 2022…start the next season almost right away, and have a fatigue set in at some point and the team just hits a wall.


Add in the prime time schedule the Eagles were featured in, and that wall seemed to pop up right in front of them after reaching the 10-1 mark after knocking off Buffalo in overtime on November 26.


The Eagles dropped 27-10 verdict to the five-win New York Football Giants at MetLife Stadium in a game that was not as close as the score may indicate.


“Obviously it wasn’t good enough,” Head coach Nick Sirianni said at his postgame press conference. “We didn’t coach well enough, we didn’t play well enough. There’s not really explanation…we just didn’t do enough to be successful. And that starts with me.”


What may make matters worse is quarterback Jalen Hurts appears to have suffered a significant injury to his throwing hand that could put his status for next Monday’s Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in jeopardy.


The Eagles (11-6) have hit a wall that has resulted in losing five of its last six games and not even the most optimistic Eagles fan will give the Birds much of chance against Tampa Bay next week.


But that is why they play the games. 


Sirianni pulled many of the starters after the Birds trailed 24-0 with a minute left in the second quarter.


“We have a lot to fix; we have a lot to do better,” Eagles Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce said at his locker after the game. “This is our worst stretch of football since Nick has been here and it is very, very frustrating, but we are in the playoffs and it’s one-and-done and you’re out. We have the Buccaneers next week and we are going to focus and prepare to try and go win the game.”


Kelce went on to back his head coach, who has led the Eagles to the playoffs all three seasons he has been in Philadelphia.


“I think everyone in the locker room wants to play for Nick Sirianni,” Kelce said. “It hasn’t been pretty these last number of games and that would be an understatement. We’ve had a lot of really successful football under Nick.


“Every game we play is ultimately a reflection of the team and the head coach. Whether you win or lose it’s going to come down to the position of leadership and the head coach.”


Quez Watkins scores on a 16-yard TD pass from Marcus Mariota in the fourth quarter of the Birds 27-10 loss to the Giants. Photo by Jesse Garber

MORE VOICES ON WHAT’S BEEN THE CAUSE OF THIS DOWNFALL

Kick returner Britain Covey, who played slot receiver for most of the second half, was asked about the idea that teams that go deep into the playoffs; the journey takes its toll the next year.


Is there validity to that idea?


“I don’t think so personally,” Covey said. “You’ve seen the Patriots, the Chiefs…these great dynasty teams do it. I think it’s more that you have a target on your back every time you go out to play. You get everybody’s best shot. Everybody’s preparing for you. They have four more games on tape. They know what you want to do, what you like to do. I think it’s more just realizing that you always have a target on your back…everyone gives you your best shot. So, that can be tiring.”


The Birds have been a massive TV draw this year. The Birds were featured at the premium times almost every week…Sunday and Monday nights…there is a weight of always being center stage. Covey was asked if being in the spotlight impacted his team.


“It does, that’s fair,” Covey admitted. “I don’t think that’s the reason we we’ve lost. Guys don’t feel as tired. We wanna get back to where [we’re on top]. But there is a sense…we went through that stretch where every game was prime time, every game was a night game. But there’s no excuses…having a target on your back is a compliment. You know what I mean?”


But isn’t there a weight to having that status?


“Yeah…I think that and along with expectations…you kind of wish guys could let go of outside expectations and just keep inside expectations…it’s hard to do.”


MORE ABOUT THE GIANTS GAME

 It has to be noted the Birds started the game with WR DeVonta Smith, DT Fletcher Cox and RB D’Andre Swift on the inactive list.


The Birds lost A.J Brown in the first quarter when he was injured after making a nine-yard catch then turning the ball over. 


The Eagles creeped back into the game a little bit at the end of the third quarter when Jake Elliott kicked a 36-yard field goal. The score capped a Marcus Mariota 13-play drive that stalled at the Giants 18-yard-line.


The Birds cut the score to 24-10 with 10:21 left in the fourth quarter when Mariota hit Quez Watkins 16-yard strike in the end zone.


But that was if for the Eagles on the day and possibly the season.


Justin Pugh block for the Giants during Big Blue's 27-10 win over the Eagles. Pugh played his high school football for Council Rock South in Bucks County. Photo by Jess Garber

FORMER EAGLES FAN, NOW A GIANT O-LINEMAN, TALKS ABOUT THE GAME AND THE STATE OF THE TEAM HE GREW UP WATCHING.

Giants’ offensive lineman Justin Pugh, who played high school football at Council Rock High School in Bucks County, was drafted by Big Blue in the first round out of Syracuse in 2013.


He left the Giants at the end of the 2017 season and on March 17, 2018 Pugh signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals.


He was not offered a new contract in Arizona at the end of the 2022 season, but was signed

by the Giants in October 2023 where he has started at right guard ever since.


Pugh grew up and Eagles fans, but quickly change his stripes once he was drafted by the Eagles rival.


He was asked if wins like this can actually carry over to the next season. The rosters change so much.


“One hundred percent,” said Pugh. “They’re a division rival we haven’t beaten in a while. It’s a feel-good win going into the offseason. We had a couple plays this year that if they went the other way, we could have had a different story this season.


“No excuses, we lost, this is the NFL,” Push continued. “But it’s nice to go out with a win.”


Pugh was asked about the idea that the Eagles are a broken team right now.


“They’ve got to figure out these things in their internal locker room,” Pugh said. “They pulled the starters out of there in the second half, so obviously they were getting ready for the [playoff] game. But they have to figure it out. If not, they’re going to be going home as well.”


WAS SUNDAY’S VICTORY OVER THE EAGLES THE LAST IN A GIANTS UNIFORM FOR SAGUON BARKLEY?

 “If it is my last game playing here, if it is, it’s been a fun six years,” Barkley said at his locker after the game. “Lots of great memories. It’s not like the last time I’m ever playing football. I’m going to be thinking about [the future]. I’m not going to let my emotions move me. If it was my last game (ever) I might think a little different. But I have no idea”




Britain Covey provided on the few bright spots during the Eagles 27-10 loss to the Giants, Photo by Jess Garber

COVEY TO THE RESCUE?

Britain Covey caught three pass for 35 yards. He was targeted five times, one miss he actually caught the ball…a difficult over-the-should catch but the ball was out too far and his feet were out of bounds. But he made the tough catch.


Does Covey think and does he hope the Eagles coaching staff look at him as that spark they could use next week in Tampa Bay?


“That’s the goal for me always,” Covey said. “I know they have confidence in me, it’s just…when you have some of the best receivers of all time, it’s kind of hard to crack that rotation. I do feel like I have the trust of the guys, especially out captain…he comes up to me all the time and says,,’be ready, be ready…cause I want you in there.’ So that’s encouraging for me. My goal is to be like a Wes Welker type when it’s all said and done.”


FINAL WORD FROM KELCE

Kelce was asked what he can say to get his team ready for a playoff push.

“All you can do is go and try and look in the mirror…play better,” Kelce said. “Talk about where you are falling short at and what you’re struggling with. And just work together man. It f**king sucks the way we’ve been playing. All you can do is work and try and figure it out.”


STATS FROM THE GAME

Kenneth Gainwell rushed seven times for 62 yards including a 32-yard dash on the Eagles second drive.

Mariota rushed for 46 yards on six carries.

Eagles rushed for 133 yards on 24 carries, a 5.5 yards per carry.

Giants rushed for 109 yards on 30 carries (3.6 yards per carry).

Saquon Barkley 46 yards on 18 carries – 2.6 YPC

Taylor eight carries for 38 yards.

Jalen Hurts finished 7 of 16 for 55 yards and an interception. He was sacked twice.

Marcus Mariota was 13 of 20 for 148 yards, a TD pass and an interception. He was sacked three times.

Taylor was 23 of 32 for 297 yards, TD pass and an interception. He was sacked once.

Quez Watkins caught eight passes for 93 yards and a 16-yard TD from Mariota.

Reed Blankenship intercepted Taylor in the end zone at the end of the second quarter.

Nicholas  Morrow led the Birds with ten tackles (six solo).

Kevin Byard recorded nine tackles (seven solo).

Azeez Ojulari led the Giants with four tackles including two sacks.

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