Carson Wentz and his merry men recruited from Sherwood Forest will get most of the credit for this slogging gut-wrenching victory. But the game was totally up for grabs until the Eagles D stepped up big-time. Eagles Special Teams was an unsung hero as well.
The “official narrative” will read as Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles‘ injury-ravaged offense are heading to the playoffs thanks to a group of relatively untested players off the practice squad.
But it really was the Eagles defense that kept this crucial game from getting out of hand.
Already missing three starting wide receivers for the fourth straight game, the Eagles began the game without Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz and right tackle Lane Johnson. Then they lost running back Miles Sanders (ankle) and three-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks (shoulder) in the first half.
But Wentz guided the Eagles (9-7) to their fourth straight win and second division title in three seasons.
Wentz threw for 289 yards, including a 24-yard TD pass to Josh Perkins, who was promoted from the practice squad on Nov. 30.
Boston “Great” Scott had TD runs of 7, 2 and 2 yards. He came off the practice squad earlier in the season. Scott had 54 yards rushing and 84 receiving. The shortest man on the field had a big impact. He was good, he was solid, but by himself would not be enough to turn the game around. That task fell to the defense.
While the Eagles head to the playoffs for the third straight year, the Giants (4-12) face more uncertainty. Coach Pat Shurmur’s job status is in question after going 9-23 in two seasons.
Best offensive play of the evening? Scott turned a screen pass into a 39-yard gain, spinning and twisting his way to the 2 to set up his last touchdown that made it 34-17.
The Giants stayed close into the fourth quarter. Saquon Barkley‘s 68-yard TD run tied it at 17-17 in the third quarter. That’s not a knock on the Eagles D….they pretty much had Saquon figured out all afternoon until then. Great players are gonna get theirs sooner or later.
After Fletcher Cox scooped up Daniel Jones‘ fumble and ran it to the 2, Scott ran it in for a 27-17 lead. The pressure schemes against Jones were artfully mixed by DC Jim Schwartz at jut the right moments. Schwartz should get a game ball.
Scott’s first TD run gave Philadelphia a 17-10 lead. The Eagles started that drive at their 38 after Cre’Von LeBlanc batted down a pass on fourth down.
Jones tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate to tie it at 10-10 on the opening drive of the third quarter. Surprisingly good coverage by Rasul Douglas on the play, but Tate grabbed just enough of a perfectly thrown ball to hang on.
Boston Scott made a one-handed, over-the-shoulder grab on a screen pass and turned it into a 29-year gain earlier on Philadelphia’s first TD drive. Wentz kept it going with a successful sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Giants 26 one play before his TD toss to Perkins.
Wentz ended up setting a single-season franchise record with 4,039 yards passing despite not having one wide receiver reach 500 yards. Alshon Jeffery had 490, Nelson Agholor had 363 and DeSean Jackson had 159.
Miles Sanders became the first Eagles player since Don Johnson in 1953 to lead all NFL rookies in scrimmage yards, finishing with 1,327. He surpassed Oakland’s Josh Jacobs before getting injured.
|Passing 1st downs||14||13|
|Rushing 1st downs||9||4|
|1st downs from penalties||2||2|
|3rd down efficiency||4-15||5-16|
|4th down efficiency||1-2||2-4|
|Yards per Play||5.6||5.5|
|Yards per pass||6.8||5.4|
|Yards per rush||3.9||5.8|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||3-4||0-2|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
Whether the banged-up group can keep it going against stiffer competition in the playoffs is another matter altogether. But internally, they are believers.
After the win, the players received divisional championship T-shirts that read, “The East is not enough,” sending the immediate message that there’s more work to be done.
“That’s true. It’s not enough,” said defensive end Brandon Graham, who finished with a sack and three tackles for loss. “That was one of our goals but that ain’t everything. In order for us to go out the way we want to, we’ve got to go for the whole thing. What’s a better way to go than when people already don’t believe in the team and we’re about to lose the first round — that’s what everybody’s about to say, anyway. I’m just happy that we’ve got a bunch of guys that don’t listen to that garbage, or use it as motivation, and we just keep it rolling.”
To be completely honest, it may realistically be enough to say you won the NFC East in a truly hideous team injury scenario. What you now know for sure is this is a rare 53+10-man team, and we needed every damn one of them to get this far. This group for all its inconsistency and bad luck never lacked the fight in the dog.