It didn’t really feel like a win because the Eagles kept trying to turn it into a loss. But it was a win, and one the Eagles desperately needed.
And as bad as they played at times and as many mistakes as they made, 11-4 looks a lot better than 10-5.
The Eagles ended their three-game losing streak with a breathless 33-25 victory over the Giants at the Linc Monday and wins against the 3-12 Cards at the Linc Sunday and those same Giants at the Meadowlands a week later give the Eagles the NFC East title regardless what does anyone else do
Here are our 10 instant takeaways from a win that shouldn’t have been so close.
1. For me, this game was a game. Jalen Hurts’ 32-yard strike to AJ Brown on a desperate 3rd-and-20 early in the fourth quarter was when things were going badly for the Eagles. A 17-point lead was cut to two thanks to 15 Giants points on two turnovers — that kickoff return disaster with Olamide Zaccheaus at the Eagles’ 14-yard line and Adoree’ Jackson’s 72-yard pick 6 that was more Dallas Goedert’s fault than Hurts’ fault. The Eagles then get the ball back and immediately take two penalties. So they’re sitting there facing 3rd-and-20 at their own 26-yard line after giving up nearly their entire 17-point lead against a 5-9 team that’s 2-6 on the road and isn’t undefeated winning team all year. It was a crisis point. The Giants had all the momentum. Cowboys fans everywhere were excited. It felt like this three game losing streak was going to turn into a four game losing streak. Then Hurts threw an absolutely miraculous 32-yard strike to AJ Brown, and before the Giants could catch their breath, Kenny Gainwell scampered 22 yards to the Giants’ 20. Two plays later, D’Andre Swift scored and the lead moved back to two possessions at 27-18. It’s still not perfect. The Eagles should have blown this team out of the water. But that pass, that play, showed there’s still some magic in Jalen Hurts’ right arm, there’s still some magic on this football team.
2. Really, the only difference between this game and the last three was that the Eagles won it. But hey! The Eagles are much better than the Giants – and they looked it, building a 17-point halftime lead. And then they just reverted back to the 49ers / Cowboys / Seahawks Eagles. Terrible mistakes. Terrible revs. Terrible decisions. That 17-point lead turned into a two-point lead — it happens with big leads all year — and then a 12-point lead turned into a five-point lead, and the Eagles had to hang on until rookie Kelee Ringo finally ended it with an INT in the end zone as time expired. It should never have come to this. I’d love to sit here and say that a win is a win and that there are no style points in the NFL, but let’s be honest. There is no excuse to let the Giants off the hook. The Eagles are headed to the playoffs and will most likely win the NFC East. But this is not a Super Bowl team. Right now they’re not even close. That was the goal this year. That was the standard.
3. And this is nothing new. Up by 16 on the opening day in England, he had to hold on for a five-wicket win. Up 27-7 against the Vikings, holding on for a six-point win. Up by 11 against the Jets and outscored 17-0 the rest of the way. Went up 10-0 in Seattle last week and outscored 20-7 the rest of the way. That just can’t happen. The Eagles did enough to win against a terrible Giants team, but the Eagles have yet to put together a single 60-minute game of just good, solid football and no terrible mistakes. Most of these blowouts are more about what the Eagles did poorly than anything the other team did well. They give teams chances, they give them opportunities. I would like to know how good the Eagles can be if they ever play a full game. We’ve never seen it.
4. I like the way the Eagles alternated between D’Andre Swift and Kenny Gainwell. Swift had 92 yards on 20 carries and Gainwell 79 yards on nine carries. That’s 176 yards from the two running backs. I’ve campaigned all year for the Eagles to split the load between the two backs because it just makes them unpredictable and harder to defend. And you can see it on Monday. Swift ran 19 times for 96 yards and a TD, and Gainwell ran six times for 41 yards and caught three passes for 38 yards. And Brian Johnson sticks to the running game. In the first game, the running backs ran 9 times for 26 yards. Second half, 26 times for 133 yards.
5. I actually really liked the way Jalen Hurts played. The interception was more about slipping Dallas Goedert than anything else, and I thought Hurts made some big throws in clutch situations and was really sharp when he needed to be. He made good decisions, avoided throwing into jams, looked comfortable in the pocket, beat the Giants’ constant blitzes with dumping offs to the running backs and tight ends, drove the ball down the field and used seven different receivers. It was the best he’d seen in a while. He scored 33 points, threw for 301 yards and didn’t fumble. There are still things to work on, but after the way the last few weeks have gone, this has been a welcome site.
6. Remember when I had to come here and defend Britannia Covey? Search my timeline and you will see. Covey can play seamlessly, and people who were actually paying attention last year aren’t surprised by what he’s done this year. The one thing the Eagles needed more than anything else Monday was a jump start, and Cowie made it happen with a career-long punt return 54 yards to the Giants’ 13-yard line after the Giants went down 3- and-out to open the game. Two plays later, the Eagles took a 7-0 lead and never looked back. Covey added a unique second-quarter punt return on Jamie Gillen’s 26-yard punt, leaping to complete the punt and then weaving for 11 yards, turning the game into just a 15-yard gain for the Giants. Just a very heads-up game. Covey also caught his first career pass Monday, a seven-yarder on a first-quarter field goal. But I’ll tell you what, for a three-game losing team desperate for a spark, that 54-yard return just 85 seconds into the game was huge.
7. To be honest, it was hard to watch Shaq Leonard in his first two games. He looked like a shadow of his former self. And maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that after spending 5 1/2 years with the same team, then sitting out a month, then coming here and learning a new defense – and then another new defense. But Leonard was terrific against the Giants with a sack — his first since the final day of the 2000 season — along with two tackles for loss and seven total tackles. The Eagles lost three linebackers on Monday if you include opening-day starter Nakobe Dean along with Zach Cunningham and Nicholas Morrow. They needed a great performance from Leonard, as well as undrafted rookie Ben Van Sumeren, who had never played an NFL defensive end. Not an ideal situation in a must-win game with your fourth and fifth defensemen, but both Leonard and Van Sumeren were fine. It wasn’t pro Shaq Leonard in 2020-2021, but he gave the Eagles what they really needed.
8. There was a lot to like defensively. Aside from Darius Slayton’s 69-yard touchdown run, they were pretty solid. Lots to fix, but held the Giants to 292 total yards, limited Saquon Barkley to 3.5 yards per carry on 23 rushing attempts, got some big 4th down stops, held the Giants under 300 yards and really only allowed one long 4- that quarter touchdown — which shouldn’t have happened — but still, of the Giants’ 25 points, seven came on defense and seven were on special teams. So the defense really only allowed 11 points – a TD, a field goal and a two-point conversion. And it’s just nice to see some of these young guys running around and adding some juice to the defense – Ringo, Sidney Brown, Eli Ricks, Van Sumeren, obviously Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis, even Nolan Smith. These guys are going to make mistakes, but they’re making them go 100 miles an hour and that’s encouraging. It got a little hairy at the end, but they found a way this time.
9. How about the DeVonta Smith and AJ Brown Appreciation Society? Smith missed practice with a knee injury Thursday and Friday and was limited Saturday. Brown took a vicious hit to the back late in the third quarter and may have missed a shot. They both just played so hard. Smith caught four passes for 79 yards with a 36-yard TD, and Brown was 6-for-80. They’re just so clutch, and on a team that’s had so many bad receivers — I’m tempted to list them all, but I won’t — they just always come up big in the most important moments. Brown already has 101 catches this year for 1,394 yards — 102 yards shy of his own franchise record — and Smith is 78-for-1,036 — and joined Mike Quick and Deshaun Jackson as the third Eagle with two 1,000-yard seasons in his first three years. They each have seven touchdowns. Two amazing players.
10. Turnovers continue to be an issue for this team. A huge problem. That disastrous punt to open the second half gave the Giants a 14-yard field goal and an easy touchdown and an interception by Jalen Hurts — a pick-6 that was mainly Dallas Goedert’s slip on his punt — were 22nd and 23- turnovers this year – 10th most in the league. Over the last 10 games, the Eagles have a whopping 18 interceptions – almost two per game. Since Week 6, only the Jets, Jaguars and Browns have committed more turnovers. And that’s now eight games with multiple losses, including losses to the Jets, Cowboys and Seahawks. And it’s not just Jalen. The two turnovers Monday night, one was on special teams and the other was on Goedert’s fumble. But whoever he is, 23 losses in 15 games is too many and this team won’t beat good teams if they don’t find a way to clean it up.