When the Eagles and Giants go against one another it’s always a big game and the latest chapter of the Philly/NY rivalry certainly didn’t disappoint. The Eagles came into the game at 4-1 after struggling to hang on to beat the lowly St. Louis Rams the week before, while the Giants came in on a hot streak winning 3 games in a row and looking to move into a tie for either first or second in the division. All week Eagles players and fans listened while the Giants trash talked over and over again. Instead of firing back in the war of trash talk though the Eagles chose to let their actions on the field do the talking. What transpired on Sunday night football was an exclamation point victory for the Eagles as they wore their all black uniforms for the first time ever in a game that was nicknamed Black Sunday all week leading up to kickoff.
LeSean McCoy finally showed up in a big way and the Eagles were able to get the running game going against the Giants. McCoy had his first 100 yard game of the season finishing with 149 yards rushing on 22 carries. McCoy had more yards Sunday than his previous three games combined and increased his season average from 2.9 to 3.6 yards per carry. The Giants defensively ended up playing a different strategy than what the Eagles expected. The Giants ended up not stacking the box which resulted in McCoy being able to find space and get into one-on- one matchups more than he’s been able to so far this season. For McCoy it was his first 100+ yard rushing game since last December and the 21st 100+ yard rushing game of his career. Most of us around the Delaware Valley had questioned McCoy so far this season but it’s clear when the space is available McCoy is still one of the most dangerous running backs in the league.
The other part of the Eagles running back duo Darren Sproles finished the game with 39 yards rushing on 7 carries. He failed to catch a pass for the second straight week and was limited to rushing yards only. Sproles was able to scamper into the endzone for a 15-yard touchdown run which basically iced the game for the Eagles. But late in the game Sproles was twisted under a tackle and left with a knee injury. Early fears suspected Sproles might have torn his ACL which would have ended his season but thankfully it turns out Sproles has a mild MCL sprain. With the bye week coming up next week Sproles will miss 1-3 games at the most. I’d like to see them rest Sproles and make sure he’s 100% when he returns because he’s too critical a piece to risk further injury and ruin would could potentially be an amazing 1-2 punch with him and McCoy come playoff time.
Nick Foles threw 2 interceptions which ruined what would have otherwise been considered a solid performance for the QB. Foles came out on fire and reminded me of the Foles from last season. His passes looked sharp and crisp right from the get go as he connected his first four passes of the game. He connected with TE Zach Ertz for a 15 yard TD which was beautifully placed. He then connected with third string TE James Casey for a 26 yard strike. Foles did a fantastic job of utilizing the tight ends in this game. He also was able to get the receivers involved throwing for 59 yards on 5 receptions to Riley Cooper who has been mostly under the radar so far this season. Foles also did a great job of getting rookie wide out Jordan Matthews involved hitting him for 50 yards on four receptions and also throwing two receptions to Jeremy Maclin for 16 yards. Foles threw two careless interceptions though which didn’t have an effect on the outcome, luckily, but the fact is Foles now leads the league in interceptions. Foles showed us he still has the potential to light up the scoreboard on any given Sunday but he clearly needs to work on the interceptions in order to continue forward.
The defense was the shining star of the game though. It was the first Eagles shutout in 18 years and a national audience got to witness the dominance first hand. The last time the Eagles had a shutout also was against the Giants back on December 1, 1996 when the Eagles won 24-0 at the Vet. This 27-0 shutout though was one of the more dominant defensive performances by the Eagles since the days of Brian Dawkins. The defensive front overwhelmed the Giants all night long which set the tone for the blowout. Eli Manning was sacked 5 times before halftime and 6 times overall throughout the course of the evening. Coming into the game the Giants scored 105 points in the last three weeks. I expected this to be a close game but thanks to the defense it was a route from the get go. Connor Barwin clearly has positioned himself as a candidate for defensive MVP as he finished with three sacks on Sunday and increased his total to 6 on the season. That cornerback duo of Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher that we all dumped on after the Rams game picked up their level of play from last week. It just further proves what pressure on a QB can do for the secondary of a defense. Fletcher also forced a fumble to help preserve the shutout which was the first turnover forced by an Eagles cornerback this season. They certainly have a long way to go but against a Giant team that had all the momentum in the world coming into Sunday night it was encouraging to see the cornerbacks improve in the national spotlight.
The other big story of the game was the season ending injury to Giants star wide out Victor Cruz. The NY Daily News took an opportunity to take a run at Eagles fans once again showing a photo of Eagles workers cheering for Cruz while he was down. One of the individuals in that photo called Philly sports talk to clarify he wasn’t cheering the injury but rather cheering the fact the Giants just blew a 4th and 2. It was very clear to everyone watching once everyone realized the severity of the injury to Cruz Eagles players and fans stopped cheering and paid respects. The Giants had such a miserable performance on Sunday night it was pretty apparent this type of media coverage by the NY Daily News was a grasping at straws maneuver in order to take a jab at the fans of the winning team. Bottom line is the Giants got burned in a major way after a week of an enormous amount of trash talking that was heard loud and clear in Philly. It was clear after watching the game the Giants had momentum coming into Sunday night but at the end of the day no matter how much momentum you have the better team will always prevail.
The Eagles now head into the bye week at 5-1 and when you stop and think about it they very easily could have been 6-0 heading into the bye if they were able to convert their 4 and goal back in San Fran against the 49ers. The bye couldn’t have come at a better time for the Eagles as they look to rest everyone and get guys like Darren Sproles back to form as they get ready for a run to the post season starting October 26th at Arizona. It was great way to enter the bye as everyone around Eagle nation had doubts after nearly blowing a lead to the Rams. We finally saw a big game from LeSean McCoy and if Foles can clean up the turnovers while the defense continues to pressure the QB anything is possible in the second half of the season. With Dallas also beating Seattle on Sunday and improving to 5-1 we’re in for a special second half of the season that still features two Philly/Dallas games to come. Folks rest up and enjoy the bye week because it’ll be an exciting ride starting in two weeks.