Eagles 27-0 Victory: The Shape Of Things To Come
By Bret Stuter
Oct 6, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Two happy Philadelphia Eagles fans during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New York Giants 36-21. Mandatory Credit: Jim O
Eagles 27-0 Victory: The Shape Of Things To Come
Eagles 27-0 Victory. Soon to take it’s place alongside 44-6 as an epic moment in Eagles history. Why? A team discounted, disrespected, and a discounted home team was facing a universe of opinion that, despite being the number one seed in the NFL, they really were no better than a middle of the road sort of team.
The drama was set. A very hot and very familiar New York Giants team would upstage the Philadelphia Eagles on national television during the Sunday Night Football game of October 12, 2014. Television coverage even set up the eventually expected drubbing of the Eagles by having a prolonged discussion of the NFC East having more Superbowl victories than any other NFL division. Oh, save one team from the NFC East.
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Things didn’t go as planned. The broadcasters admitted to the expectation that the Giants would likely win the game. Of fourteen ESPN predictions, only five picked the Eagles to win the home game. The only “expert” willing to buck the trend was ESPN SalPaolantonio, who predicted an Eagles victory before the game and used Eagles locker room tone as the reason. The New York Giants were awfully chatty in the week leading up to the game. A lot of Giants players downplayed the Eagles success at 4-1, and some were indignant and claimed that the Eagles were lucky to have a win, let alone 4.
Well, it all came crashing down on the Giants tonight. The bad mood that built in the disrespected Eagles all week was unleashed upon the Giants in the most complete domination I’ve seen in many years. The fact that the Eagle FINALLY got a shut out was the cherry on top. No Eagles team has played a shutout in eighteen years, not since the Eagles defeated the same New York Giants 24-0 on December 1, 1996 did the Eagles play as well.
Funny thing about that year. It was the first appearance of the Eagles all black uniform that season. In that year, the Eagles were 4-2 after six games and finished the season at 10-6. But enough about history. What can we make of this 27-0 Eagles victory?
Well, for weeks we’ve seen an offense show up, a defense show up, and special teams show up, but seldom did they show up in the same game. If they did, they showed up in different halves. So while the Eagles did just enough to win, they did no more. The defense melted to large batches of scores occasionally. The offense melted to struggling to maintain the ball and first downs occasionally. And sometimes only the special teams scored, making it awfully hard to believe that the team was one game from putting it all together.
But as they had in the last seven of eight games in 2013, the Eagles were simply pacing themselves. A loss tonight and the team entered an important bye week a game behind a very hot Dallas Cowboys team. A victory tonight would keep the Eagles atop the NFC East and more importantly would allow them to relax before focusing on playing the Arizona Cardinals on a difficult road game.
But this Eagles team was not content to simply win. When Giants players called the Eagles 4-1 record out as “weak”, and last year’s 10-6 record as “winners of a very weak division”, they gave the Eagles more motivation than they were prepared to handle. Despite winning three games, the combined record of the Giants competition from those beaten teams are merely 6-12. Perhaps it was the Giants who were over-hyped coming into the game.
But the Eagles victory was more than just a frustrated team smacking around the loud mouth bully in the back yard. When you look at the way this Eagles team defeated the Giants, you see signs of what’s in store as they face stiffer competition in the months ahead.
The Eagles defense took away the Giants running game. Then, when they turned to the passing game, the Eagles turned to pressure. The Giants offense had surrendered seven sacks before today’s game. The Philadelphia Eagles got eight sacks. Some were blitzes, but many were simply placing defenders in a position to make a play. Leading the barrage was outside linebacker Conner Barwin, whose three sacks gives him six sacks for the year so far. Just behind him were two sacks from defensive end Vinny Curry. Adding to the sack-fest were individual sacks from outside linebacker Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, and defensive end surprise Brandon Bair.
Nobody can claim that the Giants do not have a formidable receiving corps. But with so much pressure on sure firing Eli Manning, the routes simply did not have time to develop. Despite a four out of five completion from mop-up quarterback Ryan Nassib, the Eagles dictated the game by limiting Manning to 13 completions in 23 attempts. Not only did the Eagles control the passing game, but they forced the Giants into third and long situations. In fact, the GMen were only successful on 2 of 15 third and fourth down attempts.
Shady is back. As expected, the Giants return to trash talk had the unintended effect of awakening running back LeSean McCoy from his early season coma. McCoy carried the ball 22 times for 149 yards. This was the best game of the season, and nearly doubled his yardage from 273 yards to 422 yards. With the return of McCoy, the passing game took on less pressure, while play action passing allowed Foles all kinds of time from the pocket.
And the offense was not without it’s own tricks. The Eagles used tight end Brent Celek frequently as a blocker. Tight End James Casey caught the only ball thrown his way for a 26 yard touchdown. Both Brent Celek and tight end Zach Ertz were very active in the Eagles passing game, combining for seven receptions out of ten passes for 92 yards and an Ertz touchdown.
Okay. Not every week will find the Eagles scoring multiple touchdowns on special teams. But the Eagles hustle did not wane tonight. Their coverage was superb, their field goal unit was flawless. The punt team is still Donnie Jones. The Giants never seemed to have good field position, save one turnover. It was the special teams unit business as usual.
This was a good win. The defense needed a shut out. They have been fighting uphill against an offense that has regressed in ball security. Tonight was a solid performance. The offense needed LeSean McCoy to emerge. He has. It was clear that the Eagles have countered teams stacking the box. As I’d hoped, they simply load tight ends onto the line. Advantage Eagles.
Billy Davis has been a mixed bag in the eyes of many. But nobody can ignore the stamp he placed on tonight’s game. Despite McCoy’s return, the game could have gone south without the defense playing so solidly. An eight sack performance is even more noteworthy when you consider that Eli has a much faster release now. The Eagles defense confused the Giants.
With this success, the Eagles have earned a badly needed bye week. With the untimely injury to running back Darren Sproles, the Eagles have too many players who need to heal. Hopefully, this week off will allow for that.
The final takeaway is the perception that this Eagles team, having won close games, is somehow undeserving of the victory. After tonight’s game, it’s clear that the Eagles team is very deserving. It’s a long season and is only a third of the way completed. But this translates into a very much improved Eagles team from a year ago. The Eagles need to fix ball security. They need to be more consistent in playing each week. But there is no NFL team that does not have a list of things that need “fixed”. Part of the challenge of each team is finding success, but delaying “peaking” as long as you can until you are preparing for the post season. Tonight, the Eagles proved they can outsmart one of the best coaches in the NFL. In their Sunday Night Football victory, the Eagles demonstrated that they take tremendous pride in themselves and the city of Philadelphia. After the game, oft quoted cornerback Cary Williams shared this with report Tim McManus
They also proved that they deserve the same pride from us. It was a complete game win. It is the sixth game of a sixteen game season. But this was a huge win, and the type of win that Eagles fans respect. They deserved this. We all deserved this.