Four Downs: Eagles Take Away Ball, Win From NY
The Eagles beat the Giants, 27-7, for their first division win of the season. Here’s what we saw.
MOST TELLING STAT: 3
The Giants entered the game atop the NFL in giveaways with three, but they doubled that number as the Eagles’ defense continued to carry their team. DeMeco Ryans made a great play on his first quarter interception by taking the ball from Eli Manning’s intended target, and did so when the Giants were in field goal range.
Nolan Carroll picked off Manning and returned it for a touchdown in the second quarter, giving Manning his fourth interception of the season. Carroll showed great anticipation and continued to be the Eagles’ best cornerback. Malcolm Jenkins has also played consistently well at corner when dropping down in nickel, and forced a fumble in the second quarter as the Giants were close to field goal range.
The Eagles are now second in the NFL in takeaways with 16 — just one behind Denver — and have a chance to win most of the games they play because of the defense’s dominance. The front seven also did a good job of pressuring Manning — who had only been sacked four times previously — by sacking him four times and forcing several incompletions.
DID YOU NOTICE?
The Eagles’ offensive line didn’t do a stellar job against the Giants, but they were solid as they paved the way for a rushing attack that averaged about 4.2 yards per carry against one of the NFL’s best run defenses. They also gave Sam Bradford plenty of time with their pass protection and allowed a single sack.
After having his best games of the season in the two previous weeks, Jason Kelce appeared to take a step back against New York. He snapped the ball past Bradford before the quarterback was ready and allowed penetration at least two times.
After playing his two best games of the season in Weeks 4 and 5, Bradford took a big step back against the Giants. He started by throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper in the first quarter — the earliest the Eagles have reached the end zone this season — but then struggled against a bad secondary. Even on that touchdown, Bradford held onto the ball too long and under-threw the pass a bit.
On his first interception, Bradford had at least one receiver open — and perhaps a second — but wasn’t close to hitting his target at all. On his second interception, it’s possible Cooper incorrectly cut his route short, but even if Cooper did, Bradford made a bad decision by lofting the ball up into double coverage. On his third interception, he made another poor throw.
He continued to under-throw his targets and didn’t lead his receiver much after the catch. Chip Kelly consistently made good play-calls that gave Bradford open receivers, but the quarterback struggled to hit them.
The good news for Philadelphia? They’re now in first place in the NFC East. The bad news? They still aren’t a good team and would most likely lose in the first round of the playoffs. The Eagles won by 20, but their performance wasn’t nearly as impressive as the score would indicate.
As someone who been more lenient than most in saying fans should give Bradford more time, Kelly will (rightfully) face questions as to how much longer his quarterback can play like this before getting benched. I wouldn’t pull the plug yet, but if has another poor performance next week against the Panthers, it’ll be a reasonable to ask whether we should see Mark Sanchez in the next few weeks.