With the win, the Eagles OFFICIALLY clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff picture. They are also officially now NFC East champions.
The Birds had an opportunity to lock up home field advantage and a first-round bye in each of the last two weeks but failed to beat the Dallas Cowboys on the road and then the New Orleans Saints at home.
That the Eagles had to play their starters at all against the Giants was not ideal. That they had to play them deep into the Week 18 game because they couldn’t build a big lead against New York’s backups was also annoying.
At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t really matter. The Eagles are now just two home playoffs wins away from returning to the Super Bowl. That’s a pretty good spot to be.
So, spare me the consternation about the Eagles not firing on all cylinders in this game. It’s hardly like there’s a direct correlation to scoring style points in the final week of the season and then looking awesome in the playoffs. Case in point: the Dallas Cowboys scored 56 points against the Eagles’ backups last year ... only to then score 17 in a wild card loss the next weekend. The 2017 Eagles were certainly not looking awesome late in the regular season prior to going on a championship run.
Let’s be clear: the Eagles are not a flawless team that’s above criticism. No one should feel incredible about them losing two games and then not looking great against a Giants team hardly going all out to win. Jalen Hurts is going to need to be sharper than he was in his first game back from his shoulder injury.
But it’s probably important to remember that the good kinda outweighs the bad for a group that went 14-3 (14 wins setting a new franchise record) and clinched the No. 1 seed. Such an accomplishment shouldn’t really be taken for granted.
Up next for the Birds is a week of rest before they host their first playoff opponent in the divisional round. They’ll face the lowest remaining seed from the NFC in that game.
Read on for some observations and stay tuned for BGN’s postgame coverage, including the BGN Radio postgame show!
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- The Eagles won the coin toss and elected to defer. Deferring normally makes sense but it would’ve been cooler to see the offense on the field first in this spot.
- The Giants went three-and-out to start the game. Davis Webb got the start, as expected, and his first pass was a third down incompletion.
- C.J. Gardner-Johnson got the start at safety but shifted to the slot in nickel packages. Reed Blankenship was back at safety.
- Jalen Hurts drew “MVP” chants at The Linc ahead of his first snap. Hurts’ first pass attempt connected with A.J. Brown for a 35-yard gain. The Eagles drove to the 14-yard line before Jake Elliott had to come in for a 51-yard field goal. Hurts looked sharp on the drive and could’ve had a touchdown if Dallas Goedert didn’t fall down due to having his legs tangled with a defender. EAGLES 3, GIANTS 0.
Hurts to AJ Brown on the first play of the game. All is well in Philly.— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) January 8, 2023
AJ Brown now holds the Eagles single season receiving record! pic.twitter.com/GvlIHPYi9l
- The Giants went three-and-out on their second drive. Webb almost completed a wild third down pass with Haason Reddick chasing him down but it was a tad too high.
- A record-setting season for DeVonta Smith, not just A.J. Brown:
- Hurts aired it out deep to Brown for a 37-yard gain to convert a 3rd-and-9. The ball was a tad underthrown but nothing egregious; Hurts gave the WR a chance to make the adjustment. Great job by Brown tracking the ball. Six plays later, Boston Scott capped off the Eagles’ second drive with a rushing touchdown. Because of course Scott was going to get into the end zone against the Giants. 12-play, 80 yard drive by the offense. EAGLES 10, GIANTS 0.
Boston Scott has 10 TDs in 8 career games against the Giants.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 8, 2023
He has 7 career TDs against all other NFL teams combined.
- Webb flopped on a run out of bounds to draw an unnecessary roughness penalty on T.J. Edwards. Weak. The Giants drove into field goal territory and James Bradberry had a diving third down PBU — nice play against his former team — to force a field goal attempt. Or not! The Giants tried a fake FG but there was nothing cooking and Zech McPhearson took down the punter in the backfield for a turnover on downs. The play was officially logged as a sack.
- The Eagles took over at their own 40-yard line with the starters still in the game. They went three-and-out after Brown couldn’t make a contested catch against tight coverage. Hurts wanted to go for it on 4th-and-2 but got overruled by Nick Sirianni. The Eagles head coach likely would’ve went for it there in a normal game but they probably wanted to take the extra precaution to protect Hurts.
- The Giants went three-and-out yet again. Blankenship made a nice open field tackle on Webb on second down and then had a pass defensed on third down. Ghost! He’s a player.
- Britain Covey’s 15-yard return combined with a 10-yard holding penalty on New York allowed the Eagles to take over at the Giants’ 39-yard line. The Eagles got to 3rd-and-5 and the Giants brought a blitz that Hurts decided to beat by getting the ball out fast. The pass was incomplete ... but that was OK. Smart to avoid the hit. Elliott made the 52-yard field goal. EAGLES 13, GIANTS 0.
- Marcus Epps nearly picked Webb but couldn’t hold on to bring up 3rd-and-4 near midfield. The Giants moved the chains with a run. But then they got set back with a false start and an intentional grounding penalty forced by Reddick. The Giants got to 3rd-and-29 but were unable to convert it unlike the Cowboys converted 3rd-and-30 in Week 16.
Epps read that one like a book. Too bad he wasn’t able to bring it in. pic.twitter.com/pS8gKOgExl— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) January 8, 2023
On 3rd and 29. Easy to wonder if this is the response to the late communication on 3rd and 30 in Dallas. https://t.co/z4F3Dpr5d1— Bo Wulf (@Bo_Wulf) January 8, 2023
- Hurts took four hits on the Eagles’ fifth drive: a low tackle to his legs on a run to the sideline, a blow from behind for a roughing the passer penalty, and two goal-to-go sacks which were created by Giants blitzes. Hurts managed to survive the contact. But the Eagles ultimately had to settle for a 39-yard Elliott field goal despite getting to 1st-and-goal from the 10. EAGLES 16, GIANTS 0.
- The Giants took over at their own 25-yard line with 0:45 in the first half, no timeouts remaining. T.J. Edwards dropped a potential pick that may have gone for six. The Giants ultimately had to punt and the Eagles took a knee to end the first half.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- The Giants went with a surprise onside kick to start the second half. K’Von Wallace botched an initial recovery before the ball was eventually secured by Nakobe Dean. Sneaky, sneaky ... but no dice. The Eagles took over at the Giants’ 48-yard line. They took four plays to get to goal-to-go from the 6-yard line with Hurts having success as a passer. Two Sanders runs brought up 3rd-and-goal from the 2-yard line. On third down, DeVonta made an impressive contested touchdown grab ... that got wiped out by an illegal man downfield penalty on Landon Dickerson. What was flagged had absolutely no impact on the result of the play. The very next snap Jack Driscoll got flagged for holding but the penalty was declined because Hurts forced a throw into the end zone that got picked. Really bad swing there.
Red zone playbook stinks today because the Hurts designed runs are clearly off the table and that’s what they make the whole plane out of. Bad decision there but not the kind of throw he’s made this year. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯— Kurt (@Kurt_BSH) January 8, 2023
- Epps made a really nice open field tackle for loss to prevent a Giants first down on 3rd-and-3. Good stop by the defense after the Eagles’ turnover.
- The Eagles went 36 yards in 7 plays to set up a 54-yard field goal attempt from Elliott. He made it to make it a three possession game with 6:17 left in the third quarter. EAGLES 19, GIANTS 0.
- The Giants drove to 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line with run defense being an issue. Then they had two straight delay of game penalties to get knocked back to the 18-yard line. The Giants picked up 12 yards on a Webb completion to bring up third down. Webb somehow escaped a Brandon Graham sack but threw incomplete to bring up a Giants field goal to make it a two-possession game again. RIP to the shutout. And the Eagles’ effort to pull their starters. EAGLES 19, GIANTS 3.
- The starting offense went three-and-out while the third quarter expired. Awful 29-yard punt by Brett Kern, who has stunk since signing with Philly.
- The Giants drove into the red zone again. Facing 3rd-and-8 from the 14-yard line, Webb took off running into empty space up the middle and then trucked Blankenship for a rushing touchdown. Yikes! The Giants went for two ... and Webb’s pass was incomplete. Sigh of relief for the Eagles as it remained a two-possession game. EAGLES 19, GIANTS 9.
- Hurts overthrew a deep target to Brown for the second time in the game. The Eagles picked up back-to-back first downs with a completion to Dallas Goedert and then a hard-nosed run by Scott. Hurts threw a dangerous pass that was nearly picked off on a slant. He came back with a completion to DeVonta for a first down. The Eagles then went run heavy to get into the red zone. On 3rd-and-18 from the 18-yard line, a Kenneth Gainwell carry set up 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line. Big play. The Eagles ran twice to bring up 3rd-and-goal from the 4-yard line. On third down, Hurts threw the ball away when he should’ve went down to keep the clock running with the Giants out of timeouts. Elliott made the 22-yard field goal. Touchdown would’ve been preferable, of course, but good job by the offense to at least take 6:43 off the clock. EAGLES 22, GIANTS 9.
- The Giants took over at their own 46-yard line after the special teams unit allowed a 40-yard return. The Eagles really refused to put this game away on all phases. The Giants got to 4th-and-1 at the two-minute warning and went for a sneak for a first down. Then Webb aired out a dime to KENNY GOLLADAY, who finally scored his first TD with the Giants. (Credit to Big Blue View’s Ed Valentine for calling that one prior to this game.) Unbelievable. Darius Slay, who hasn’t really looked great for some time now, was beat on the play. EAGLES 22, GIANTS 16.
- Blankenship cleanly recovered the Giants’ onside kick attempt to allow the Eagles to run out the clock. Phew.
FINAL SCORE: EAGLES WIN, 22 to 16
- Nakobe Dean went to the locker room during the fourth quarter.