Eagles fans will never forget where they were at 4:30 p.m. on December 19th, 2010. Some were running around their living rooms, some were hugging and holding loved ones or complete strangers, and others just stared at the screen in shock and disbelief. No matter how you may have celebrated, everyone was asking the same question: did that really just happen?
Every emotion possible came to light in the Eagles and Giants game. The first half was everything that Eagles fans were nervous about. The Giants came out on a tear and the Eagles failed to respond. Eli Manning was controlling the offense and Michael Vick had no answer against the aggressive New York defense.
The lead continued to grow for New York and Eagles fans slumped further down into their chairs. Once again we were watching the Eagles buckle in the big game. And then something changed in the hearts of those on the Eagles sideline. With eight minutes and nine seconds left, something clicked team and they realized that in the NFL, nothing is truly over until the clock hits zeros.
Twenty-eight points and over 300 yards of offense in the final half of the fourth quarter and the Eagles ran into the locker room in celebration and disbelief. They had just pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. It was not your average comeback, but rather one that included two 30+ yard scrambles by Michael Vick, the best onsides kick off of David Akers career, a missed challenge by Andy Reid, two three and outs forced by the Eagles defense, and most notably a punt return touchdown by DeSean Jackson to end the game. Truly unbelievable.
Now for the weekly grades:
Quarterback: A –
What Michael Vick did in the fourth was the most impressive quarterback performance I have ever seen. No other quarterback could have done what he did to bring the Eagles back into the game. The combination of big plays in the air and on the ground makes him the most dynamic threat in the league. With his 242 passing yards and three touchdown passes alongside 10 rushes for 130 yards and a touchdown, Michael Vick took the Eagles under his wing.
Vick was far from effective in the first half. Just like we saw the last time these two teams met, Vick struggled with the constant pressure put on by the Giants. He threw the fifth interception in the last five games and missed a lot of his receivers through the first 45 minutes. However, No. 7 didn’t let that affect him. He rebounded in a way that no one could have imagined. I look forward to seeing him in an Eagles uniform for the next couple of seasons.
Running back: A –
LeSean McCoy only saw 10 carries but he did the most with them on Sunday. Shady rushed for 64 yards, making it the eighth time this season he has averaged over five yards per carry (the fourth time he averaged over six yards per carry). It also doesn’t hurt the rushing offense when Vick averages 13 yards per carry.
Wide Receivers: B
If DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin could hold onto the football, this unit would be in the B+ to A – range. Both star receivers committed costly turnovers that could not have come at worse times for the Eagles offense. However, both Maclin and Jackson certainly made up for their miscues. Maclin scored the game-tying touchdown with just over a minute to play and then Jackson answered right back with a game-winning punt return. Tight end Brent Celek scored his longest touchdown of his career when he hauled in a 65-yarder from Michael Vick.
Offensive Line: C+
It was a lot of ups and downs for the offensive line. King Dunlap got absolutely owned by Justin Tuck, who finished with 1.5 sacks, two tackles for losses, six tackles and three quarterback hits. If it wasn’t for Vick’s speed, Tuck would have made Dunlap look like the Winston Justice of 2007. On the contrary, Jason Peters did a great job on Osi Umenyiora and Max Jean-Gilles threw a great block that sparked Michael Vick’s first touchdown run.
Defensive Line/Linebackers: A –
The front seven was the biggest question mark coming into Sunday’s game; however they stepped up in a big way against a tough Giants offense. They were without defensive end Brandon Graham and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley. Rookie Jamar Chaney, a seventh round draft pick, dominated the middle of the field with 16 tackles (12 solo) and one tackle for a loss. Moise Fokou also stepped up on the linebacker core, notching 10 tackles (8 solo), a sack and two tackles for losses. The defensive line didn’t put a ton of pressure on Eli Manning, but they did a great job defending the run. The duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs was held to a mere 3.2 yards per carry and the defense only allowed three rushing first downs.
One stat pretty much speaks to the Eagles secondary against the Giants: in the first half, cornerback Dmitri Patterson was thrown at 10 times. Of those targets, Eli Manning completed six passes for 84 yards and three touchdowns. For the game, Manning passed for 289 yards, four touchdowns (three in the first half), and in interception en route to a 105.4 quarterback rating. This marks the second time in the last four games the Eagles secondary has allowed four touchdown passes.
If this continues, the Eagles offense will need to put up over 30 points a game if the team has any choice of winning. With Nate Allen joining Ellis Hobbs on the sidelines for the rest of the season, rookie Kurt Coleman will start for the rest of the season. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott needs to find an answer or Philadelphia is in some big trouble.
Special Teams: A+
What more do I need to say? DeSean Jackson defied all odds with his game winning punt return for a touchdown. His first touchdown return of the season could not have come at a bigger time for No. 10. Also, kicker David Akers knocked down a very clutch 34-yard field goal with less than eight minutes left in the game.
In a matter of minutes, the 2010 season has taken a turn for the better. The Eagles now control their own destiny to their sixth NFC East title in the past 10 years. If they beat the Vikings or Cowboys, the division is theirs. If the Chicago Bears lose one of the next two games and the Eagles win out, then Philadelphia could find themselves with a first round bye.
It’s pointless to play the “what-if” game. For now, it’s important that everyone enjoy and embrace this win. Christmas came six days early in the City of Brotherly Love.
Check out Philly Phour writer Josh Getzoff’s video about Philadelphia’s dominance over New York in the last week. Also check out the Eagles locker room celebration after the Giants game.