After a lifeless first half to the game, the Philadelphia Eagles came back in the second half and beat the New York Giants in OT to save their season. The Eagles are now 6-7, tied with the Dallas Cowboys atop the NFC East, while the Giants fall to 2-11, having lost nine straight. Here are some thoughts I had from last night’s game.
1. Eagles late-game heroics once again beat Eli Manning
With Daniel Jones out with a high ankle sprain, Eli Manning picked up the start with his whole family watching in what may have been his final NFL game. Eli came out swinging, chewing up the Eagles’ secondary, and connecting with Darius Slayton five times for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns before halftime. It looked like the re-birth of a legend in his final appearance.
However, as the Eagles have done to the Giants in years past, they came back to prevent going 5-8 on the season. After halftime, the Giants punted on every possession except for a kneel to take the game to O.T. The Giants had just one first down in the second half. Eli wouldn’t get the opportunity to lead a drive as the Eagles went down and put it in the endzone for the win.
In recent years, the Eagles have done this several times. In week 3 of 2017, Eli was stunned by a game-winning 61-yard field goal from Jake Elliot, who was playing in his second NFL game. Of course, in 2010, Desean Jackson returned a punt for the win at the buzzer to clinch the NFC East. Philly has dominated the matchup in recent years as they have gone 19-4 in their last 23 matchups. With the loss, Eli Manning now goes under .500 for his career, with a career record of 116-117. It will be interesting to see if he gets another snap in the NFL.
2. Who said Carson Wentz isn’t clutch?
After a terrible start to the game, Carson Wentz truly came up clutch and led big drives to help the Eagles win. In total, he finished the game completing 33/50 (67%) of his passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. However, what I was most impressed by was what he was able to do with his top receives. The Eagles were without several vital play-makers, but Wentz still got the job done. Josh Perkins, Boston Scott, and Greg Ward Jr. all started the season on the practice squad, but Wentz connected with each of them several times for big plays.
Down the stretch, Wentz was great, getting the ball out quick, and firing darts to his receivers. He also didn’t force the issue- when receivers weren’t open down the field, he made the smart decisions by hitting his check down option. Wentz has been heavily criticized over the past few weeks for his decision-making and inaccuracy, but in the second half tonight, Wentz was electric. Not to mention he threw the would-be game-tying touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter that went in and out of Greg Ward’s hands. Not his best, but a solid A- performance from Wentz.
3. Sidney Jones makes the first good play of his career
Out of everyone on the roster, Sidney Jones may be the player who I’ve been most critical of throughout his career. However, I have to give him some credit for his performance last night.
The 2017 second-round pick has been terrible throughout his career, but he made a potentially game-saving play late in the fourth quarter last night. With Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas off the field due to injury, Jones, who has been unplayable all season, came in to line up across from Darius Slayton. On a big 3rd and three with under two minutes on the game clock and the Giants trying to lead a game-winning drive, Jones broke up a pass intended for Slayton. Huge play. While the Eagles didn’t win in regulation, this possibly prevented New York from getting a late score in the fourth quarter. Hats off to Sidney Jones for his first good play in the NFL; it only took him until his third season to do so.
4. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside continues to disappoint
For so many reasons, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, the second-round pick out of Stanford, has been a bad pick. Let me start by giving credit where it’s due; JJAW made an enormous over-the-shoulder catch late during the Eagles’ fourth-quarter game-tying drive. A huge reception, and a great job of tracking the ball down.
Besides this one catch, JJAW had a severely underwhelming game. With Alshon Jeffery getting hurt early on, JJAW theoretically became the Eagles’ top receiving option. However, he finished the game with just two catches for 29 yards on three targets. The reason for this is because he is a horrendous route-runner. JJAW has had trouble getting open, and that’s tough for Carson Wentz, who is already without his top three receivers.
The fact that Darius Slayton, who went in the fifth round of the 2019 draft, was taken well after JJAW but chewed up the Eagles, is an atrocity. He’s young, but it doesn’t look good for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside through 13 games. JJAW also left the game early during the Eagles’ O.T. drive with what looked like a hamstring issue.
5. The Eagles are in trouble without Alshon Jeffery and Lane Johnson
Despite the win, the Eagles suffered two significant injuries that could significantly hurt them down the stretch.
In the first quarter, Alshon Jeffery came up lame after breaking on his route and was carted off with a foot injury. Never want to speculate, but I immediately thought he popped his Achilles. Let’s hope not. Once he went out, the Eagles’ only remaining receivers were J.J. Arcega Whiteside, an underwhelming rookie, and Greg Ward Jr., who was bagging groceries just four weeks ago. The Eagles need to acquire at least one more reliable receiver, especially if Jeffery is out for the season. Nelson Agholor was out with an ankle injury, and Desean Jackson is on the I.R. with an abdominal issue.
On the offensive line, right tackle Lane Johnson went down after he got rolled onto on a Carson Wentz sack. It did not look good as he limped off and did not return with an ankle injury. The timing is especially harmful, considering Johnson was just given a massive four-year extension that makes him the highest-paid tackle in the NFL. Backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai has struggled in his position all season. Hopefully, Johnson doesn’t miss extended time.
The Eagles will look to get back to .500 and stay afloat in the NFC East week when they take on the 3-10 Washington Redskins. The Giants will look to snap their nine-game losing streak next week against the 3-10 Miami Dolphins.
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