Eagles-Giants Final Score: 11 Things We Learned From Philadelphia’s Win

Final thoughts on the Eagles' Week 16 victory over the Giants.
Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

The Philadelphia Eagles are now 6-9 after beating the New York Giants on Thursday night by a final score of 24 to 19. Here’s a look at the things to be learned from this game. 

1 – The Eagles’ losing streak is over

It feels like it’s been forever since the Eagles won a football game. The last Eagles victory came on Nov. 13. The Eagles head just beaten the Falcons to advance to 5-4. Then the Birds went on a five-game losing streak.

But that’s over now. And the Eagles FINALLY won a close game. It wasn’t a pretty performance by any means, but the Eagles played well enough on Thursday evening to get the job done. Beating the Giants was important for Philadelphia in order to avoid potentially getting swept by their NFC East rivals.

2 – The Eagles still own the Giants

The Eagles have clearly dominated this rivalry for a long time now.

3 – Carson Wentz had some special flashes in a solid performance

Wentz turned in a solid performance on Thursday evening. The numbers weren’t flashy; he finished the game completing 54.2% of his passes for one touchdown, one interception, and a 70.1 passer rating. Wentz could have had two interceptions if Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas managed to get his hands on a ball Wentz underthrew into coverage.

Wentz’s first and only pick of the game when a forced throw to Bryce Treggs. Not a great decision from Wentz. At the same time, Treggs could have done a better job of coming back for the ball. And it’s worth noting that Eagles receivers struggle to get open while Wentz is scrambling around for extended periods of time.

The mobility Wentz possesses was on full display this evening. Wentz finished the game with 27 yards on four rushing attempts. One of his rushes was following this crazy play to avoid a sack.

Carson is looking like Michael Vick on the field at times. His pocket awareness and ability to avoid pressure has been unreal. For the second week in a row, Wentz was able to make some plays out of nothing by using his legs.

Wentz finally connected with an Eagles receiver deep down the field for a big play touchdown at one point. That’s something the Eagles’ offense has lacked all season. The Eagles should be encouraged by their rookie quarterback’s progress from this game despite not having a perfect outing.

If Wentz’s passer career doesn’t work out, he can always going into acting. The young quarterback sold a “late hit” call on the Giants. Kudos to the Philly fans in attendance at the Linc for also pressuring the refs into throwing a flag on the play

The Eagles were lucky to avoid disaster with Wentz when the quarterback briefly left the game due to a head injury. Wentz was taken out for a few plays before having to clear the NFL’s mandatory concussion protocol. Wentz said he passed the testing with “flying colors.” A few players after returning to the game, Wentz took on the role of being a lead blocker on a double reverse run from Agholor. There’s no questioning Wentz’s toughness.

4 – Lane Johnson’s return was felt

It’s very hard not to think what could have been if Johnson didn’t have to serve a 10-game suspension this season. The Eagles are 4-1 with Johnson in the lineup. Their only loss came in the Lions game, which the Eagles were in position to win before an inexcusable Ryan Mathews fumble.

Speaking of Mathews, the Eagles used him to run behind Johnson on the first play of the game. They also used Darren Sproles to run behind Johnson for the first touchdown of the game. It was effective.

“Yeah, we felt going in that we could be a little more balanced left and right with the running game than say in weeks prior,” said Doug Pederson. “Nothing against Isaac [Seumalo]. I thought Isaac did a great job at Baltimore, and Allen [Barbre] did a great job for us at right tackle. But a lot of times I call runs behind our Pro Bowl tackle over there, Jason Peters, and we also wanted to find out where Lane was at a little bit too to get him in the flow of the game. Just so happened that a few went his way.”

The Eagles need Lane to stay healthy and out of trouble for next season and beyond. He’s one more failed drug tests away from being suspended for two whole years.

5 – Malcolm Jenkins had a strong game

I set the over/under of Eli Manning interceptions in this game at 1.5. Josh took the under while I took the over. Manning is too mistake-prone not to throw picks. Jenkins capitalized on Manning’s blunder by making plays on the balls he threw in the air. Jenkins looks really good at safety. Along with his two interceptions, he also had five tackles and three more passes defensed.

Jenkins wasn’t perfect. He gave up a touchdown in the end zone to Sterling Shepard. Jenkins just didn’t look like a good fit in the slot on that play. He got shaken easily by the wide receiver, which caused New York to score with ease.

6 – Nelson Agholor surprisingly stepped up

Huh, who would have thought?

Make no mistake: Agholor’s costly drop on second down caused the Eagles’ drive to ultimately stop. The ball was right on Agholor’s hands and he just couldn’t catch it.

That play kind of ruined the Eagles’ momentum in the game. Fortunately for the Birds, they answered right back. Agholor’s 40-yard touchdown catch was the first one he had since Week 1 against the Browns. Agholor was able to burn Giants first-round pick Eli Apple, which means Apple is now the worst player in the NFL.

Agholor also had a crucial catch on a third down that helped the Eagles score a 41-yard kick instead of a 48-yard try.

Agholor has a long, long, long, long, long, long way to go before he can be considered a valuable contributor on Philadelphia’s roster. He’s still a bad player overall who is hard to count on.

7 – Terrence Brooks made Eagles fans know who he is

Who is Terrence Brooks, you might ask? He’s one of the few player the Eagles claimed off waivers following final cuts. Brooks is a former Ravens player, so vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas was likely intrigued by the defensive back.

Brooks’ biggest player was the interception. It was really interesting for the Eagles because Brooks hadn’t played a single defensive snap all year. And Jenkins made it sound like the Birds invented a defense on the fly at the end of the game … one that involved Brooks.

“Well we got tired of Odell [Beckham Jr.] catching the ball and sprinting through the defense. So we put Jalen Mills on him, took one of our d-linemen out, and added Terrence Brooks in and basically just played a form of cover two,” said Jenkins.” But we made sure we had somebody on Odell all the time. Because every time we played zone he just kind of ran through the entire defense. So we knew that last drive we were going to need something to keep the ball out of his hands. And like I said, it was a quick decision between that second to last drive and the last drive that we kind of put it out there and guys went out and executed.”
The interception wasn’t the only big play by Brooks. He also forced Dwayne Harris to fumble on a punt return. The Giants were lucky to recover the ball on the play.

8 – Leodis McKelvin is under-appreciated

Leodis McKelvin isn’t without his faults. He’s obviously  been susceptible to getting beat by the deep ball. But you can’t tell me he doesn’t battle out there. McKelvin finished with six tackles and three pass deflections.

Even better, he had also great post-game quotes.

9 – Brandon Graham played liked a Pro Bowl snub

There’s a case to be made that Graham deserved to go to the Pro Bowl. He’s played hard in every single game this year. He ranks fourth in the NFL in pressures. The only problem is Graham doesn’t have the star power name recognition. His sack numbers also aren’t good enough. But sacks aren’t everything. Graham failed to register a single sack tonight but he absolutely forced Manning into some bad throws. That doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but Graham’s impact this season has been apparent. He’s a very good defensive end to have.

10 – The Eagles helped out the Cowboys

The bad news for the Eagles is that their win means the Cowboys locked up home field advantage and a first round bye in the 2017 NFL playoffs.

The good news is that the Eagles didn’t allow the Giants to clinch a playoff berth on Thursday night. There’s still an outside chance New York can miss the playoffs. It’s not likely, but it’s possible.

11 – Philadelphia has the opportunity to end the season on a high note

One more game left. The Eagles play the Cowboys in Week 17 and it’ll be interesting to see how Dallas chooses to handle the game. With nothing left to play for, it’s possible the Cowboys will rest their starters in order to gear up for the playoffs.

Dallas will be playing the Eagles coming off short rest since the Cowboys play the Lions on Monday Night Football. The Eagles, meanwhile, have the benefit of extra rest since Philadelphia just played on Thursday night.

Beating the Cowboys won’t mean much for the Eagles since Philadelphia has already been eliminated from the playoffs. But ending the season with a win over the Cowboys could be enjoyable for Eagles fans. Especially if the win helps making the 2017 first-round pick that the Vikings owe to the Eagles more favorable.

BONUS: Manning face is still funny

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Eagles fans.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Instant Observations from what we saw from the team’s win.

Carson Wentz left the game after suffering a head injury, but came back on the team’s next drive.

If you missed anything, take a look at what happened from the game.

Lane Johnson officially made his return to the Eagles lineup, while Allen Barbre and Jordan Matthews were also active.

Were our predictions for last night’s game on the spot?

We talked to James Kratch of NJ Advance Media to get a preview of what to expect from the Giants the second time around.

PODCAST

Brandon Lee Gowton and John Barchard recap the Eagles’ win in the latest BGN Radio podcast.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Nelson Agholor showed he still has a chance to be useful with the Eagles, opines Mike Sielski of the Inquirer.

Over the month since that ugly afternoon at Seattle, Agholor had done nothing spectacular until his 40-yard touchdown catch Thursday night against the Giants, a quick second-quarter strike from Carson Wentz that ended up being the difference in a 24-19 Eagles victory, his first TD reception since Week 1 against the Browns. It was a play that made manifest the reasons that the Eagles’ coaching staff refuses to give up on him: He ran a terrific corner route, shaking loose of Giants rookie cornerback Eli Apple and coasting into the end zone when Wentz hit him in stride.

“I couldn’t be happier with how Nelson has responded,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said, “just with a mental toughness and positive attitude.”

Later, he added a circus catch along the sideline for 7 yards, a gain that made what might have been a challenging Caleb Sturgis field-goal attempt a more manageable 41-yarder. If those two plays had been the sum total of his night, every Eagles fan would have left Lincoln Financial Field happy and free of the frustration that Agholor so often has stoked. But sure enough, the sweet of those positive moments was cut with the sour of another drop, an easy slant pass from Wentz similar to the one that Agholor let slide through his arms in Seattle.

Maybe this is the player Agholor will always be, always threatening to undermine the trust that people dare to put in him. For now, though, he has shown enough to salvage his career here.

Even though his season came to an end a few weeks ago against the Washington Redskins, long-snapper Jon Dorenbos says he’s not going anywhere, pens Joseph Santoliquito of PhillyVoice.

“I will be back, hell yeah, definitely, I have unfinished business out there,” said the 14-year NFL veteran and currently the longest-tenured athlete of the four major Philadelphia pro sports team. “I want to win a Super Bowl so bad here before I retire, and this injury will motivate me even more. You look around and see all the problems people have today and this is a champagne problem, not that big of a problem at all. This year was the best I ever played. I thought I had another shot at the Pro Bowl.

“The fans have been great. But I haven’t had too much of a chance to respond. I didn’t have my cell with me for a while. It’s been painful. I’ve been trying to sleep as much as I can these last two weeks. The first 10 days was more pain than I anticipated. The show of support has been great. It helps. And obviously, since being on the show, fans that didn’t know anything about the Eagles have reached out. Stuff like ‘Get better,’ Love you,’ really nice sentiments. I appreciate it all and it’s cool that people think of me like that. My main priority now is to get myself back together and get ready for next year.”

Dorenbos won’t be able to practice his magic completely until 12 weeks, but there was one bonus to the injury: He’s left handed. Actually, Dorenbos does everything with his left hand with the exception of long snapping.

“I’m left-handed, so I’m good with the simple functions of life,” Dorenbos said. “But I’ll be honest, I hate it. I want to play. I wanted to play right after I got hurt. I tried a couple of practice snaps and the pain was too much. I hated coming out of the game and I wanted to go back in. I have a pride and a commitment to the guys that I play with. This is my situation and I can’t change it. I’m going to enjoy the last two games of the year as a fan and be there for the guys.”

COMING UP

Doug Pederson will have his day-after press conference around noon.

Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.