Instant Observations: Eagles-Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — The Eagles go out on a high note, though hurt their draft positioning in the process. Here’s what we saw in their 35-30 win over the Giants in the regular-season finale:
*In a play full of symbolism, DeMarco Murray broke loose for a 54-yard touchdown on the Eagles’ first possession.
The run came with Sam Bradford under center — Murray’s preferred look — and was made possible by Jason Peters, who bulldozed an enormous hole for the back to scamper through. It’s not secret that Murray and Peters were not Chip Kelly‘s two biggest supporters.
*Murray finished with 69 yards on 12 carries.
*Sign of things to come? Looked like the Eagles checked out of their first play from scrimmage. It resulted in an incomplete pass, but a welcome development nonetheless.
*Getting rid of Kelly didn’t help the drops issue. With the team backed up near its own goal line, Jordan Matthews had a chance for a big play down the left sideline on third down, but Sam Bradford‘s well-place pass caromed off his hands and to the turf.
*Matthews caught a TD in the corner of the end zone later in the opening half, and promptly fired the ball into the end zone wall before breaking into an animated Rocky-esque celebration that didn’t quite fit the moment. He added another score in the fourth (this time gently tossing the ball into the stands for a fan in a Connor Barwin jersey). He had seven catches for 54 yards, finishing just three yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
*Bradford ended 30-of-38 for 320 yards with two touchdowns and an interception (108.3 rating). Had a pair of passes batted by Jason Pierre-Paul, including one that resulted in a pick.
*Zach Ertz established a new career high with a 152 yards, breaking a personal best set just last week against Washington (122 yards). His 60-yard reception in the first quarter was also a personal best. Ertz was left wide open across the middle and raced all the way down to the six-yard line on the 60-yarder. Darren Sproles finished it off from there.
*Nelson Agholor left in the fourth quarter to be checked for a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet collision with cornerback Trumaine McBride. Brent Celek also left to be checked for a concussion.
*Walter Thurmond came up with his team-high fourth interception of the season late in the third quarter and raced 83 yards for the score. Credit Barwin for getting a hit on Eli Manning and impacting the throw.
*Marcus Smith recorded his first solo sack. He beat his man off the right edge and took down Manning early in the second quarter. He has 1.5 sacks on the season now.
*Smith got a healthy dose of snaps. He had two tackles (one for a loss), a sack and two QB hits. Billy Davis seemed to move his outside linebacker and corners around a bit more than he had in previous weeks, as Josh noted.
*With Byron Maxwell sidelined, E.J. Biggers got the start on the outside opposite Eric Rowe. Did a solid job on Odell Beckham Jr. (5 catches, 54 yards) when lined up against him.
*Denzel Rice got a handful of snaps in subpackages with the defensive backfield ailing.
*Poor effort by Mychal Kendricks on the Will Tye touchdown. The tight end hit the breaks after catching the ball in the flat, Kendricks flew past him and then tried to tackle Tye up high. A quick stiff arm took care of Kendricks, who has been a major disappointment this year.
*Good positioning by Thurmond defending receiver Myles White in the back of the end zone on 2nd-and-goal in the first quarter. The Eagles eventually forced the Giants to settle for a field goal.