Takeaways: Eagles Defeat Giants in a Tale of Two Halves
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 25-22 at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday in what turned out to be “a tale of two halves.”
New York set the tone in the first half by feeding the ball at will to rookie running back Saquon Barkley, who scored the Giants’ only two touchdowns of the game. However, that all changed in the second half, as head coach Pat Shurmur made one of many questionable decisions that ultimately allowed the Eagles to swoop in and take the “W” from the Giants’ hands.
Here are some takeaways from both teams.
Shurmur’s Play Calling Cost New York
Remember when Saquon Barkley recorded 94 rushing yards, 33 receiving yards, and two touchdowns in the first half of the game? Returning from halftime, you’d expect New York’s game plan to be the same. Oh, that’s where you were wrong.
Shurmur decided it was time to give the 21-year old rookie a break in the second half, and put the ball in the hands of Eli Manning and the passing game. The decision proved to be costly, as New York was only able to generate 56 yards of offense. 56. As for Barkley, he rushed for seven yards on three carries and caught two passes for eight yards. A true 180 flip for the rookie.
Credit goes to Philadelphia’s defense, as they sensed the Giants were no longer leaning on perhaps their best player on the offense. So the goal was obvious for Jim Schwartz’ defense: attack Eli and the receiving corps. Before that, Barkley had shredded Philadelphia’s run-stopping unit, which was exemplified on the rookie’s 51-yard touchdown.
Back to Shurmur, it wasn’t just his decision to cut back the snaps of Barkley. Let’s not forget about New York’s final drive of the first half. In prime field goal territory, they got a bit too aggressive to put points on the board, considering quarterback Carson Wentz threw a 15 yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz on the drive prior. Shurmur would call for a deep pass instead of running out some clock and putting themselves in better range. Instead, Manning’s throw intended for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. ended up in double coverage and straight into safety Malcolm Jenkins’ hands for the interception at the goal-line.
Let’s not forget about Shurmur’s decision to go for the two-point conversion on the first drive of the game. While they did move to the one yard line due to an Eagles penalty, the decison to throw to fullback Eli Penny was headscratching, to say the least.
Shurmur will be answering plenty of questions this week regarding his various gaffes on Sunday.
Josh Adams is a Star
The Eagles’ running back depth chart has been plagued by injuries ever since Week 2. Between Jay Ajayi’s season-ending knee injury to Darren Sproles unable to shake off the injury bug, there was not much consistency on the ground in Philadelphia.
Enter Josh Adams.
The undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame impressive performances in recent weeks were nothing compared to Sunday. Adams rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He looked downright explosive against New York’s defense (we’ll get to them shortly). In fact, Adams would have had two touchdowns on the day, had center Jason Kelce not been called for holding. But if you look at that run, Adams has breakaway speed, as he gains significant distance on various Giants defenders.
The uptick in snaps is paying off for Adams and Philadelphia’s offense as a whole.
Giants Dreadful Defense
There’s no sugarcoating it. The Giants defensive squad was abysmal in the second half.
The problem all season for New York has been their inability to finish tackles. What should be short gains instead become huge holes that the Giants have to dig themselves out of.
However, it’s not just tackling, it’s coverage as well. Sometimes they are too focused on one player, and as a result, a receiver is left wide open in the middle of the field, resulting in a huge break for the Eagles. That’s exactly what happened on a fourth down conversion, as Nelson Agholor was waiting alone for Carson Wentz to throw the ball his way. As a result, Philadelphia converted, Jake Elliott kicked a 43-yard field goal to essentially win them the game.
Key defenders are not making plays. Olivier Vernon has recorded zero sacks in the past two games, but has two roughing the passer penalties to his credit. Alec Ogletree’s coverage still remains an issue moving forward. The lack of depth on the defense is rearing it’s ugly head.
In order for James Bettcher to recreate the defensive squad he had with the Arizona Cardinals, there has to be an overhaul, and Sunday’s game in the “City of Brotherly Love.”
Eagles Defense Steps Up When Many Counted Them Out
Nobody gave the Eagles a chance entering Week 12 against the Giants, due to their depleted secondary. No Sidney Jones, Ronald Darby, or Jalen Mills on Sunday. But it didnt matter for the Eagles.
The Malcolm Jenkins interception towards the end of the second quarter was the game-changer for the Eagles, after surrendering 346 yards in the first half. Yet, the defense stepped up in the second half, as they completely sent the Giants off the rails in the second half.
Michael Bennett and Chris Long each recorded a sack on Eli Manning to help kill the momentum. Philadelphia’s defense would post five tackles for a loss, two of which came from linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill.
Give credit where credit is due. The Eagles defense stepped up big time with their backs up against the wall.
The Giants’ playoff hopes are officially over with their 3-8 record, and all eyes should be set on next season and beyond. They face off next Sunday against the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears, who boast the most dangerous defense in the entire league.
As for the Eagles, they now sit at 5-6 just one game behind the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins for first place. Philadelphia looks to begin their quest back to the top, and it will be a tough road for them. It all starts next Monday against Washington, with the Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, and Houston Texans waiting on the horizon.
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