The New York Giants had won six-straight games against the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. It’s a streak that obviously took years to build, aided by the fact that the Giants had only been in the playoffs twice in the last 11 years.
It took the Eagles about five minutes to snap that run into pieces Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field in their 38-7 demolition of the Giants in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs.
The Eagles now advance to the NFC championship for the first time since the 2017 season and for the eighth time in franchise history, seventh since 2001, waiting for the winner of the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys.
This game was over before it began. The Eagles took a 28-0 lead at halftime and were never threatened (second largest halftime lead in franchise playoff history since they were up 38-7 against the Detroit Lions on Dec. 30, 1995). It evened the Eagles’ all-time playoff record at 24-24.
The Eagles’ team rushing total of 268 yards is second in franchise playoff history behind the 274 yards rushing the Eagles amassed in their 14-0 victory in the 1949 NFL Championship over the Norm Van Brocklin and the Los Angeles Rams.
In his first NFL playoff victory, Jalen Hurts completed 16 of 24 for 154 yards and two touchdowns, while the Eagles’ defense stymied the hot hand of the Giants’ Daniel Jones, who was 15 for 27, for 135 yards and an interception.
There was a pile of good, some touches of bad and ugly here and there, in the Eagles’ overpowering 38-7 rout of the New York Giants.
Right tackle Lane Johnson, right guard Isaac Seumalo, center Jason Kelce, left guard Landon Dickerson and left tackle Jordan Mailata, and tight end Dallas Goedert absolutely manhandling, controlling and steering the Giants’ defensive front into anything they wanted to do, to the tune of 416 total yards, 268 coming on the ground.
The Eagles first half: They took a 28-0 lead into halftime, with 18 first downs to the Giants’ three, outgained New York, 258-64, converted six of seven third downs, scored on four of their six possessions, ran off 43 plays to the Giants’ 19, while Hurts was 12/17 for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for another score.
Defensive end Josh Sweat’s eight-yard sack on a third-and-10 at the Giants’ 15 with 5:00 to play.
Safety Reed Blankenship taking down Saquon Barkley for a four-yard loss on a first-and-10 at the Giants’ 25 on New York’s fourth possession.
On the Eagles’ fourth possession, Hurts going seven yards on a third-and-three to the Giants’ 13. It set up Boston Scott’s three-yard touchdown for a 21-0 Eagles lead.
Running back Miles Sanders rushing for an accumulated 43 yards in the Eagles’ fourth drive with the first six plays. It set up Scott’s second-quarter touchdown. Sanders finished with 90 yards.
Cornerback James Bradberry’s diving interception on the Giants’ second possession at the New York 46. Regrettably, the Eagles were not able to do anything with the turnover. It was a great call by defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon sending C.J. Gardner-Johnson on a blitz, forcing Jones to make a premature throw and Bradberry was there to jump the route. Bradberry made a nice stop at the Giants’ 15 on New York’s third possession, tackling Isaiah Hodgins for a three-yard gain on a third-and-four.
A.J. Brown’s block on the Giants’ cornerback Adoree Jackson that freed up DeVonta Smith for a nine-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Eagles’ lead with 1:21 left in the first quarter. Hurts at that time was 7-for-7 for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
Hurts showing he was fine on a first-and-10 at the Giants’ 17, going nine yards before taken down. It proved he could take a hit.
On the Eagles’ second possession, running back Kenneth Gainwell going 14 yards on a third-and-one at the Giants’ 43. Left tackle Jordan Mailata provided a great block, closing off Giants’ linebacker Jarrad Davis from getting anywhere. Gainwell later got a six-yard gain on a third-and-one at the Giants’ 17 on the Eagles’ last possession of the half. He came up with a tough 12-yard run to the Giants’ 13 with 5:57 left to play that sealed the victory for the Eagles. Gainwell finished with 112 yards.
Linebacker Haason Reddick beating Giants’ right tackle Evan Neal for a five-yard sack of Jones at the Eagles’ 40 on New York’s first possession. It’s the first defensive play the Eagles had made up to that point and was a major momentum swing. Reddick ran a stunt the next play, swinging around and running through Giants’ center Jon Feliciano to sack Jones for an eight-yard loss.
The Eagles opening drive. They made it look easy—and it set the tone for the game. Hurts went 5-for-5 for 68 yards and a touchdown, while the Eagles faced only two third downs on the eight-play, 75-yard drive that absorbed 4 minutes, 54 seconds of the clock.
On third-and-five at the Giants’ 15 on the Eagles’ first possession, tight end Dallas Goedert hauling in a Hurts’ pass with his left hand, taking full advantage of Giants’ safety Xavier McKinney falling, for the first score of the game. Goedert had possibly his best all-around half of football as a pro, catching four passes on four targets for 35 yards and a touchdown, and making pancake blocks down field on outside runs by Gainwell and Sanders. Goedert finished with five receptions for 58 yards.
The Eagles converting their first third down, when Hurts hit A.J. Brown at the Giants’ 21 with a five-yard pass on a third-and-three on the opening drive of the game.
The second play of the game, Hurts hitting Smith with a 40-yard pass, beating Giants’ safety Julian Love. It showed Hurts may not have been “hurting” as many in the media speculated prior to the game. The play flipped the field, moving the ball from the Eagles’ 27 to the Giants’ 33.
Granted it was late, cornerback Darius Slay allowing a 17-yard completion on a fourth-and-16 with 4:17 left to play, when Jones hit Marcus Johnson at the Giants’ 34.
Up 28-7 and the game well in hand, why run Hurts on a third-and-two at the Eagles’ 38 with 11:13 left to play? Kayvon Thibodeaux wound up making the tackle, but it came at a risk of putting Hurts out there when it was not necessary.
Safety Reed Blankenship falling on third-and-four at the Giants’ 30 on a Jones-to-Richie James 12-yard completion on New York’s first possession. Blankenship got stung again the next play, when Jones hit Lawrence Cager for a 16-yard gain to the Eagles’ 42. Against the Giants, the Eagles’ flawed safety area was easy to hide. Against the Dallas or San Francisco offense, it could be a different story.
Defensive end Josh Sweat being completely fooled on the Matt Breida eight-yard touchdown around left end. It was wildcat designed for Barkley to make a choice, and instead of keeping the ball, he handed it to Breida, catching Sweat, who was responsible for the outside contain, flatfooted as Breida ran right by him.
On the Giants’ second drive of the second half, on a third-and-two at the New York 20, Barkley ripping off a 39-yard run to the Eagles’ 41. Linebacker T.J. Edwards filled the wrong gap. He came shooting through the right, when Barkley flew right up the middle untouched until he was 30 yards down field. Safety Marcus Epps took a bad angle on Barkley, giving the Giants’ dangerous running back even more yards. That play served as the catalyst for the Giants’ first score of a game that the Eagles were fully in command of.
On the Giants’ second possession, Jones seemingly having all day to hit Matt Breida with a 19-yard pass to the Eagles’ 49. If you watch a replay, you’ll see that Hasson Reddick somehow got twisted up with Giants’ right tackle Evan Neal in a way that is sure to make everyone laugh during the film session this week, with his helmet stuck between Neal’s legs. Fortunately for the Eagles, Jones tossed an interception to James Bradberry on the following play.
With the Eagles having a chance to go up 21-0 early, right tackle Lane Johnson’s false start at the Giants’ 44, making a third-and-eight into a third-and-13 at the Giants’ 49 and forcing the Eagles to punt for the first time. It was New York’s first stop and it gave the Giants some hope that they could stop the Eagles’ offense. That momentum quickly deflated.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.