|by Ryan Messick
The Giants are manhandling the Eagles 24-3 at halftime in East Rutherford, N.J., thanks to a stifling defense and clutch third down conversions by Eli Manning. The Giants quarterback is 6-10 for 98 yards, a touchdown and an interception on third downs. He’s found Mario Manningham for a pair of touchdowns from 35 and 33 yards and connected with Hakeem Nicks for an eight-yard strike. Dimitri Patterson was in coverage on all three scoring plays.
The Giants first drive was doomed by a holding penalty, which forced them into a first-and-20 they couldn’t recover from. Michael Vick responded with a poorly thrown ball on the Eagles second play of scrimmage that was picked off by Corey Webster. Vick was flushed out of the pocket and tried to throw on the run, missing DeSean Jackson short.
The Giants took over at the Eagles’ 42-yardline, but were driven backwards by a sack by Moise Fokou that sent them into second-and-21. A punt gave the ball back to the Birds at their own 15-yardline, and a first down out to the 40-yardline appeared to swing field position. Sav Rocca’s punt was short, though, and after a muff by Will Blackmon, the Giants recovered a few yards upfield at their own 30-yardline.
Eli Manning shined on the ensuing drive, going 3-for-3 on third downs for 55 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown strike to Mario Manningham to put the Giants on the board with a 7-0 lead. Manning converted on third-and-11, third-and-7 and third-and-8. The first completion was to Hakeem Nicks, who appeared to bobble the ball against the turf as he went to the ground, but Andy Reid didn’t throw the challenge flag. Six plays later, the Giants had capped their nine-play, 71-yard drive with the touchdown from Manning to Manningham.
Philadelphia went three-and-out on the next drive, and another shaky punt from Rocca set the Giants up at their own 30-yardline. The Eagles came up with a much-needed turnover, as Darryl Tapp tipped a third down pass and Quintin Mikell picked it off at the Giants’ 45 yardline.
On the first play of the drive, Michael Vick rolled out and scrambled for 11 yards before a late hit out of bounds by Jonathan Goff tacked on 15 more yards, moving the ball to the Giants’ 19 at the end of the quarter. Philadelphia moved it to the New York 13-yardline, but Vick was sacked on a third-and-four attempt. The Eagles went with an empty backfield and five wide receivers and the Giants responded with a zero blitz, giving Vick no time. As a result, David Akers kicked a 34-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 7-3.
New York answered on the following drive, as Eli Manning stayed hot on third down, finding Hakeem Nicks for a 16-yard gain on third-and-12. On the next play, Manning hit Manningham for a 33-yard strike to put the Giants on top 14-3.
Philadelphia was stymied again, as Justin Tuck sacked Vick on third-and-eight as the Giants brough two extra pass rushers. Philadelphia was forced to punt the ball away with 4:28 left in the half, and New York went back to work.
Manning continued to sizzle on third downs, hitting Derek Hagan for 16 yards when he needed eight, then finding Ahmad Bradshaw on a third down screen that went for 11 yards when he needed six. New York moved the ball down to the Philadelphia seven-yardline before Manning finally misfired on third down, throwing one high to Kevin Boss, who couldn’t haul it in. Lawrence Tynes connected on a 25-yard field goal, giving the Giants a 17-3 lead.
Philadelphia got the ball back with 44 seconds left, but on the second play, Vick hit Jeremy Maclin who bobbled the ball and lost it to the turf. Corey Webster recovered and returned it to the Eagles’ eight-yardline. Replays showed that Maclin may not have controlled the ball long enough for it to be a catch, but a booth review did not overturn the call.
On the very next play, Manning hit Nicks for an eight-yard touchdown, giving New York a 24-3 lead with five seconds remaining in the half. Philadelphia took a knee and New York headed to the locker room with a three touchdown lead.
At halftime, Vick is 6-of-10 for 33 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. He’s run five times for 23 yards. LeSean McCoy has five carries for 30 yards, and Jeremy Maclin has two catches for 10 yards and a lost fumble. DeSean Jackson has been held off the box score through two quarters. Eli Manning is 16-of-25 for 188 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Ahmad Bradshaw has 35 yards on nine carries and Brandon Jacobs has run six times for 17 yards.