The Giants arrived at the halfway point in the season knotted at 4-3 with their divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles. A divisional win would allow them to keep pace with Cowboys and stay in the playoff race so the stakes were very high. As the game opened up the Giants wanted to get on track early but their first series was over as quick as it began as they went 3 and out. The Eagles took over after Brad Wing‘s punt and Carson Wentz quickly put the ball back in the Giants hands as his second pass on the drive sailed into the hands of safety Landon Collins, who intercepted the pass. The Giants quickly took advantage of the turnover and on the second play of the drive Eli Manning found Odell Beckham Jr. on a quick slant which he took into the end zone for a 26 yard touchdown. The Giants grabbed the lead and would add to it a short time later. On the Eagles next possession Carson Wentz threw his second interception on a pass intended for Dorial Green-Beckham. Safety Andrew Adams returned the interception 19 yards and the Giants started off on the Eagles 30 yard line. On third down and 10 Manning found Roger Lewis Jr. in the end zone after a miscommunication in the Eagles secondary left him wide open. The 30 yard touchdown strike gave the Giants a 14-0 lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the first quarter. The Eagles put together their first drive on the next possession but were forced to settle for a field goal. On the Eagles final drive of the first quarter they quickly marched down field, aided by a 19 yard rush by Wendell Smallwood and a 30 yard reception by Zach Ertz. At the close of the first quarter the Giants lead 14-3, but the Eagles had a 4th down and 2 on the Giants 23 yard line.
As the second quarter began, the Eagles opted to go on 4th down and 2. Carson Wentz took the ball himself and was quickly smothered short of the first down. The Giants took over on downs but were not able to get the offense going and quickly punted the ball right back to the Eagles. The Giants running game which has been very poor all season long continued to struggle early on forcing Manning to continue to rely on his receivers to move the ball on any given possession. The Eagles pulled closer on their next drive after Ryan Matthews scored on an 8 yard touchdown run, capping off a 3 play drive which was highlighted by a 58 yard pass to wide receiver Bryce Treggs. Following up the Eagles touchdown, the Giants put together their longest drive of the first half. They went 86 yards on 6 plays capped by a 1 yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr, his second of the day. The big play on the drive was a 46 yard pass to Victor Cruz down the right sideline. Shortly after the play it was determined that Cruz was injured on the play when he twisted his ankle. A 66 yard punt return by Darren Sproles put the Eagles in great position to put points on the board and get within a touchdown but they failed to do so. On 4th down and 1 from the Giants 6 yard line the Eagles failed yet again to convert and keep the drive alive. It was the second time in the first half that the Eagles gambled on fourth down and short and came up empty. Later in the quarter, with just under a minute and fifteen seconds to go in the half after the Eagles drive came up short they were set to kick a 40 yard field goal though Jason Pierre-Paul had other ideas. Pierre-Paul swooped in and blocked the field goal attempt which was initially recovered by Janoris Jenkins who fumbled it but linebacker Mark Herzlich then recovered the ball. As the clock ran out in the second quarter the Giants took a 21-10 lead into the locker room.
The Eagles came out swinging in the third quarter and immediately put together a scoring drive within the first three minutes cutting the Giants lead to 21-17. The Giants responded quickly by generating their best drive of the afternoon. They marched 75 yards down the field on 10 plays, culminating in a 32 yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard. The drive was marked by balance with passing and rushing plays split evenly. After each team traded scoring drives to start the third quarter neither team was able to generate another drive and put points on the board, however the Eagles were driving as the quarter’s close approached.
The Eagles opened the fourth quarter down 28-17 but would close the gap with a 26 yard field goal that shrunk the Giants lead to 28-20. On the Giants following possession a pass thrown to Odell Beckham Jr. appeared to be innocent enough but the officials ruled that the pass was intercepted upon a booth review. The play initially appeared to show Beckham catching the ball and falling to the ground ending the play. Though as he fell to the ground the Eagles defender, Nolan Carroll ripped the ball out of his hands. The Eagles took over but were not able to move the ball down field and draw closer. The inability of the Giants offense to consistently move the ball continued to create quick possessions that allowed the Eagles to have chances to fight to get back into the game. After another quick series, Brad Wing was forced to punt from the Giants end zone. The Eagles took over on the Giants 47 yard line with just over 6 minutes to go in the game and were able to move the ball down field and kick a 38 yard field goal making it 28-23 Giants with just 3:51 to go in the contest. The Giants took over needing to hold onto possession and simply run out the clock. With 1:55 remaining, on 3rd down and 4, Manning’s pass intended for Will Tye was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Connor Barwin and intercepted by linebacker Jordan Hicks. The Eagles took over on the Giants 34 yard line looking for the score that would give them the lead and the win as time wound down. On fourth down and 10 from the Giants 17 yard line Wentz’s pass to Jordan Matthews in the right corner of the end zone was just long, returning the ball to the Giants. The Giants would end the game on successive kneel downs and close out the victory by a score of 28-23. The victory marked the Giants third straight win, improving their record to 5-3 and giving them sole possession of second place in the NFC east. Next week they will play host to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night football.
Dan Evans is a Contributing Writer for PureSportsNY You can follow him on Twitter @DanEvansPSNY