The Eagles offense bounced back from a few sputtering performances while the defense continued it's dominance as the Eagles blew out the Giants to take over first place in the NFC East. While the Eagles offense still flashed that big play capability they've shown all year, they also showed an ability to run longer more methodical drives. While the Eagles' ability to run the ball certainly helped, the offensive line and especially Donovan McNabb also had big bounce back games which helped the Eagles establish a rhythm on offense that we haven't seen in weeks. The Donovan McNabb we saw today looked nothing like the inaccurate and indecisive QB we've seen since his return from injury. No doubt the time given to him by the line helped, but McNabb's ball placement was so much better this week. I honestly don't remember him making a bad throw all day.
There's no doubt that in years passed we've seen McNabb have these mini slumps only to respond with great stretches. Today's win seems to mark the end of his slump and the start of good things.
No discussion of why the Eagles dominated this game would be complete without a mention of the defense. Eli Manning was picked off twice in a game where the Eagles forced three turnovers and pressured him well all day and getting two sacks. Brandon Jacobs padded his stats toward the end of the game, but in general the Eagles bottled up the Giants round game as well. For me, the standout defensive player was Sean Jones. With rookie Macho Harris hurt, the free agent signing from the Browns got the start and responded with probably the best game from an Eagles safety this year. He hit receivers, hard, he running backs hard... I would almost say he reminded me of another Eagle safety, but to do would be sacrilege. So let me just say it's nice to see an Eagle safety hitting people hard again.
Big play offense in effect
The Eagles ripped off big plays through the air and on the ground this week. The big TDs were a 41 yard Leonard Weaver run, a 54 yard Desean Jackson catch, a spectacular 23 yard TD Jeremy Maclin grab, and a 56 yard LeSean McCoy run on a 3rd and 1 play. When things are clicking like today, there isn't many teams more exciting to watch than the Eagles.
Desean Jackson's 50+ yard TD ties him for the franchise record.
Top picks deliver big
You may notice in that list of big plays that the names of both of our top draft picks this year appeared. Jeremy Maclin finished the day with 4 catches for 49 yards and a fantastic TD catch while Shady McCoy had 82 yards on 11 carries.
Church bus was rolling
Leonard Weaver's performance was probably the biggest surprise of the day. With Brian Westbrook on the sideline we expected rookie LeSean McCoy to take the load, but in reality the carries were pretty even split between he and Weaver, who set the tone for the game with a 41 yard TD run on the Eagles opening drive. Weaver ran hard for 75 yards on 8 carries. While I still love Westbrook and can't wait to see him back, we learn more and more each week that the Eagles offense no longer relies on him.
Babin's boneheaded play
BGN favorite Jason Babin, who did have a sack today and generally did a nice job getting into the Giants' backfield.... made perhaps the dumbest play of the year so far. On a poorly struck Giants kickoff, Babin decided to try to catch the short kick rather than let it bounce(probably out of bounds). Not surprisingly the defense end couldn't catch it and fumbled the ball, which the Giants recovered and converted to 7 points.
About those points...
The Giants scored 17 points today, which marked the sixth time in seven games the Eagles defense has held their opponent to 17 points or less. That was always Jim Johnson's target for a good defensive performance.
A name you never heard today
Winston Justice. He went up against Justin Tuck today and surrendered no sacks. Any day where you never hear an offensive lineman's name is a good day. He denies it, but I'm fairly confident that Justice had this game circled on his calender for quite a while.
Suddenly, we're all feeling pretty good about these Eagles? Two straight wins over division rivals, a big win over a team with a winning record, Donovan McNabb looks back on track, the defense is good... It's amazing what a difference a week can make. The fun continues next week as the Dallas Cowboys come to town. Should be a fun week.