It was just a bit more difficult than it should have been, but somehow when time ran out late Thursday night, the Eagles had more points than the Giants.
I’m still not sure how.
They didn’t play well most of Thursday night, but the Giants are still the Giants, and Carson Wentz is apparently still Carson Wentz, and he somehow drove the Eagles to two late TDs to rally the team from 11 points down to its second win of the year, 22-21, over the Giants at the Linc.
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1. Wentz was fantastic early, terrible for a long time, then brilliant at the end, driving the Eagles 78 yards in just four plays for a TD to make it 21-16 Giants with 4:38 left and then driving them 71 yards in 6 plays to give the Eagles a 22-21 lead with 40 seconds left. There was the obligatory terrible interception that took points off the board, but Wentz was so ridiculously good at the end of this game — 5 completions for 121 yards and two TDs in the fourth quarter. He seems to save his best for when all hell is breaking loose. Wentz finished 25-for-43 for a season-high 359 yards and two TD passes — both in the final 4 1/2 minutes. If he could ever play like this for a full game? Can you imagine?
2. Boston Scott showed me a lot with that miracle game-winning touchdown catch. Scott is really a Giants killer. He had his only two big games last year against the Giants and then makes a WR type of catch in the corner of the end zone to win a game the Eagles had to win? This is a backup running back who really hadn’t done much this year and had never caught a touchdown pass in his career. That was a big-time play.
3. The circumstances weren’t exactly the same, but it definitely brought back memories seeing Brandon Graham record a game-clinching strip sack in the closing seconds. OK, the circumstances weren’t the same at all, but Graham is playing at such a high level now and it’s great to see a guy in his 11th NFL season really at the top of his game. B.G. is an all-time great Eagle, and he’s having the best season of his career at 32 years old. He’s now got 6.0 sacks in seven games, and he’s only 3 1/2 shy of his career high. It’s really fun watching him play football right now.
4. We’re continuing to see big plays from the young receivers, and that’s really encouraging. Even with first-round pick Jalen Reagor still sidelined. Travis Fulgham continued his outstanding play with 5-for-73, including a leaping 40-yarder down the right sideline, and rookie John Hightower caught a 59-yarder, the second straight game he’s had a 50-yard catch. And you know what? Greg Ward may not have the firepower of those guys, but he’s a really good slot, and he’s going to catch 70 passes this year. His fourth-quarter TD was huge. The Eagles actually have a stable of young wide receivers for the first time … forever?
5. Did you notice that four of the Giants’ biggest plays came on the first plays of drives? The Golden Tate 39-yard TD right after the Eagles were forced to punt from their own 4-yard-line, the 29-yard Sterling Shepard catch right after Wentz’s interception, Daniel Jones’ 80-yard run and then a 14-yard Wayne Gallman run late in the game. Four drives, four plays, 162 yards. Those plays tell me the defense isn’t focused, isn’t ready, isn’t mentally prepared to play at the start of drives. Those four plays accounted for half of the Giants’ total yards and every one was the first play of a drive. That’s a defense that’s just not ready, and Jim Schwartz has to figure out why.
6. Jake Elliott is officially an issue. When he missed a 53-yarder against Washington, OK it was 53 yards. Then he missed a 57-yarder against Pittsburgh. That’s a long kick. Then he missed a 52-yarder against the Ravens. OK, still 52 yards. But 29 yards? That can’t happen. Heck, Elliott once made a field more than twice as long as that to win a game against the Giants. Elliott’s 29-yard miss was the shortest of his career and the shortest by any Eagles kicker in eight years, since Alex Henery missed a 28-yarder in 2012. Eagles kickers had made 76 straight from inside 30 yards. It’s a kick you can’t miss, and that’s four misses in seven games now for Elliott, who is a pedestrian 8-for-12 this year. That’s 67 percent, and that’s second-worst in the league. But thanks to the huge contract the Eagles gave Elliott, they can’t cut him because of the dead money he would count over $8 million against the cap. He just has to start making kicks.
7. Have to mention Jones’ 80-yard run. That was embarrassing. Teams have been tricking the Eagles all year. They’ve been taking advantage of the defense’s over-aggressiveness and lack of court awareness. So many big plays have come not because teams are beating the Eagles on the line of scrimmage but because they’re fooling them. This is a big, strong, tough defense. I’m just not sure how smart a defense it is. Overall, they did some good things Thursday night, especially at the end of the game. But those big plays on gadget plays are killing them, and they’ve got to figure that out.
8. The defense did come up big when it had to, stopping the Giants on their last two drives after Jones’ run led to their last TD and a 21-10 lead. It wasn’t a great effort overall, allowing the NFL’s No. 31-ranked team to rush for 160 yards and score 21 points. But they finished strong and at least gave Wentz the chance to win the game.
9. You know who’s showing me a lot? Richard Rodgers. He had a better game Thursday night — 6-for-85 — than Zach Ertz has had all year. This is a guy who was in training camp with Washington, got cut, was on the street and finally resurfaced here after Dallas Goedert got hurt. Rodgers caught 58 passes in a season for the Packers back in 2015, and he’s got nice, soft hands. He made some big, big catches Thursday night, including a 30-yarder on the final fourth-quarter TD drive, his longest catch since 2017.
10. Jordan Mailata and Sua Opeta both struggled much of the night, but late in the game, on those two TD drives, they hung in there and battled. I’ll tell you what, I can’t say enough about the job Jeff Stoutland does to get these guys ready. With Lane Johnson out again — this time with a knee injury — the Eagles finished with Mailata, Opeta, Nate Herbig and Matt Pryor out there with Jason Kelce. I don’t know how many teams can lose seven offensive linemen and still function.
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