Stat worth noting: While not an official stat, with three games to play it sure looks like it’s going to come down to the Giants and Cowboys for the NFC’s final Wild Card berth.
Stat worth noting II: New York lost the almost-always all-important turnover battle by a 4-1 count.
Turning point: Philadelphia responded immediately to Domenik Hixon’s 61-yard TD that gave Big Blue a 31-30 lead when DeSean Jackson scored on a 60-yard TD of his own. Jackson was wide open and danced his way into the end zone. He ran right by Michael Boley and then had no problem eluding converted safety Aaron Ross for the easy score, on which Donovan McNabb had all the time in the world to throw.
Play to remember: After the Birds had jumped out to a quick two-TD lead, it looked like Philly was about to make things even worse. Eli Manning’s pass to Kevin Boss was right in the hands of Jeremiah Trotter, who inexplicably couldn’t corral it. The ball bounded right into the awaiting clutches of Boss for an 18-yard gain to the Eagles 9-yard line.
Play to forget: Brandon Jacobs appeared to have a little extra bounce in his step – on his first carry, at least. Jacobs allowed Eagles DE Trent Cole to punch the ball out from behind. The loose ball went right into the hands of Sheldon Brown, who returned it 60 yards for a TD and an early 14-0 Eagles lead. In the biggest game of the season, the Giants got off to the worst possible start.
What went right
The Giants offense exploded against the Eagles, but it wasn’t enough due to Big Blue’s horrible defensive performance. The Giants finished with a gaudy total of 512 yards and averaged 7.1 yards per play.
Domenik Hixon turned in a huge play to help New York knock off Dallas and, a week later, he turned a short catch into a 61-yard touchdown that put the Giants ahead, 31-30, midway through the third quarter. Hixon shook off the tackle attempt of Eagles LB Will Witherspoon, who appeared to be trying to force a fumble, and raced the distance.
Eli Manning almost reached 400 yards against a very tough Eagles defense. Manning finished the game with 391 yards and three TDs. He was also victimized a few times by dropped passes that would have made his final numbers even more impressive.
While the Giants will be favored in their next two games (at Washington, vs. Carolina) before ending the season in Minnesota, the Cowboys have what appears to be a very tough schedule the rest of the way. Dallas travels to New Orleans and Washington before hosting the Eagles in their season finale.
What went wrong
Tom Coughlin lost a crucial coach’s challenge in the third quarter and the original call of Eli Manning’s fumble was upheld. Manning basically lost control of the football even though there was no defensive contact, and Eagles safety Sean Jones recovered the free ball.
The Eagles marched down the field on the game-opening drive and scored with ease, almost as if the Giants defense had yet to take the field. Philly moved 67 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead.
None of the Giants defenders realized that a second-quarter fumble by Donovan McNabb was a live ball. Thinking it was an incomplete pass, the ball just laid on the carpet until the play was whistled dead. Osi Umenyiora forced McNabb to cough it up, but after Michael Boley was unable to catch the ball on a fly, everyone relaxed, believing it was an incomplete pass.
DeSean Jackson reversed field and scooted all the way down the left sideline with a 72-yard punt return that extended the Eagles’ lead to 24-10 late in the opening half. Multiple Giants were in position to drop Jackson, but were unable to shed their blocks.
85 – Total points the Eagles scored against the Giants in two games this season
85 – Number of catches this season for Steve Smith, breaking Amani Toomer’s previous record of 82
261 – Total number of yards for Eagles WR/return specialist DeSean Jackson
“We have the mindset now that we have three games left and we have to win all three.” – Giants QB Eli Manning
“It doesn’t get any better than this, in the Meadowlands. I think this is like our fourth or fifth win in a row out here. We love it. It’s beautiful.” – Eagles WR DeSean Jackson