PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles were so dominant in the second half that it was hard to believe they played so poorly in the first half.
The Eagles scored 31 straight points in the second half and buried the Giants 34-10 on Sunday.
That included right tackle Lane Johnson’s first career reception, a 5-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. That was followed by Alex Singleton’s 29-yard interception return for a touchdown.
But it didn’t come without a price as both of the Eagles’ main running backs, Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard, left with injuries.
And it came after a first half in which the Eagles played just as poorly as they did in the previous matchup with New York, a 13-7 Eagles loss on Nov. 28.
Still, the Eagles (8-7) won for the sixth time in eight games and moved into sole possession of the final NFC playoff spot with two games remaining after the Vikings lost to the Rams. The Eagles hold a tiebreaker over New Orleans, which plays Monday night.
The Eagles’ streak of seven straight games with at least 175 yards rushing ended Sunday. They finished with 130 yards rushing, led by Sanders with 45 yards in the first half. Hurts completed 17 of 29 passes for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Still, for such a critical game, the Eagles played most of the first half as if they were in a fog.
The Eagles fumbled on the opening kickoff, but recovered. Hurts threw an interception that was overturned after a replay review. There was another fumble that the Eagles recovered, at least three dropped passes and four punts – all in the first quarter.
Oh, and Jake Elliott’s consecutive field-goal streak of 17 ended when he missed a 41-yarder with 7:06 left in the first half.
It was that kind of start for the Eagles.
But the Eagles defense prevented the Giants from doing much of anything.
Through the early part of the fourth quarter, the Giants had a total of 105 yards. At that point, starter Jake Fromm and replacement Mike Glennon combined to go 10-for-26 for 50 yards with 2 interceptions.
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Still, the Eagles could only muster a late first half field goal from Elliott through the first half, enabling them to pull into a 3-3 tie with the Giants at halftime.
Finally, the Eagles took over.
Rodney McLeod’s interception set the Eagles up on the Giants’ 21 to start the third quarter, and Boston Scott scored from the 3 to make it 10-3.
Then Jalen Reagor’s 39-yard punt return set the Eagles up again at the Giants’ 21. They got a field goal for a 13-3 lead midway through the third quarter.
DeVonta Smith had a toe-tapping touchdown reception from the 4 to make it 20-3. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, overturned, then overturned again after a replay review.
That TD was set up by Quez Watkins’ 40-yard reception down to the Giants’ 9.
On the Eagles’ next possession, the Eagles faced a 2nd-and-goal from the Giants’ 5. Johnson was declared an eligible receiver. After blocking his man, he snuck into the right side of the end zone, wide open for Hurts’ pass.
For Johnson, it was a fitting play for someone who missed three games earlier in the season because of a mental health illness. He was not selected for the Pro Bowl, either, despite another stellar season.
At least he was rewarded with a touchdown.
The Giants have struggled on offense throughout the last five games in particular, averaging just 11.8 points during that stretch. But they might have set a new low Sunday.
Through three quarters, the Giants punted the ball 8 times. Their quarterbacks, meanwhile, completed just 9 passes. Fromm and Glennon combined to go 9-for-24 for 41 yards with an interception through three quarters.
In all, the Giants had 94 total yards through three quarters.
Boston Scott continues to have success against the Giants. Scott was not expected to carry the ball much, or at all, with both Sanders and Jordan Howard playing.
But Sanders left late in the first half with a hand injury, and Scott got a chance on 3rd-and-goal from the Giants’ 3. He bulled his way up the middle for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 10-3 lead.
For his career, Scott has 7 TDs in 6 games against the Giants. He has 4 TDs in 38 games against the rest of the NFL.
Eagles kicker Jake Elliott had a chance to move into third place in team history as the Eagles lined up for Elliott’s attempt at a 41-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.
But the snap was low and Elliott kicked it wide right, thus ending his streak of field goals made at 17. Caleb Sturgis had made 18 in a row in 2016.
Elliott has made all 39 of his extra-point attempts.
The Eagles dodged several bullets to start the game.
The mistakes began on the opening kickoff, when Kenneth Gainwell fumbled, but the Eagles recovered.
On third down, Hurts’ first pass was ruled an interception at the Eagles’ 32 yard line. But that was overturned after a video review showed the ball hitting the ground as Steven Parker had intercepted it.
On the Eagles’ next possession, Hurts fumbled the ball trying to escape pressure, but the Eagles recovered. Then on 3rd-and-15, Sanders dropped a short pass that likely would have gone for a first down. The Eagles punted again.
If not for the Giants’ offensive struggles, the Eagles would have trailed by a large margin.
As it was, Hurts went 3-for-10 for 11 yards in the first quarter. The Eagles averaged 2.2 yards per play in the first quarter, the Giants 2.8.
DE native elevated from practice squad
Giants wide receiver David Sills was elevated from the practice squad as a COVID replacement, and was on the game-day roster.
Sills, the Red Lion Christian Academy and Eastern Christian Academy star, has been on the game-day roster for one game this season. That occurred on Oct. 24 against Carolina.
Sills caught a pass for 5 yards in the fourth quarter.
In addition, running back Gary Brightwell, the St. Georges star, was not on the game-day roster Sunday. Brightwell has played in 13 games this season, primarily on special teams. He has one carry and one reception this season, for 4 and 6 yards, respectively.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.