In a pivotal divisional matchup against the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles were in dire need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Giants entered the game fresh off two straight wins, and they came out firing, taking a 19-3 lead in the first half. But, Zach Ertz and the Eagles charged back to take the lead and held on until the very end, when kicker Jake Elliott knocked in a 43-yard field goal for the 25-22 win.
“I thought it was a good team win, all three phases made plays,” Ertz said. “We needed it.”
The game commenced with an Elliott kickoff into the opposing end zone for a touchback. Giants quarterback Eli Manning marched out onto the field with his squad and one of the best running backs in the NFL, rookie Saquon Barkley. Manning and Barkley drove down 75 yards down the field in nine plays on the first possession of the game. The drive ended in a 13-yard TD pass from Manning to Barkley, giving the Giants a 6-0 lead after a failed two-point conversion.
The Eagles’ downfall all season has been sluggish starts by the offense that have put the team too far behind to catch up late. Although the Eagles did not put points on the board in the first quarter of Sunday’s contest, they were able to overcome their early struggles in Week 12 to secure a win.
On their first drive of the second quarter, Wentz and the Eagles offense went 46 yards downfield in seven plays, utilizing RBs Josh Adams and Corey Clement, rookie tight end Dallas Goedert and wide receiver Golden Tate. Ultimately, the drive stalled and ended in an Elliott field goal for the Eagles’ first points of the game. The Eagles trailed 12-3.
After finally putting together a successful drive, the Giants responded, and Barkley put them up 19-3 after an impressive a 51-yard TD run with just over four minutes left in the first half.
Following the Barkley TD run, the dynamic duo of Zach and Carson Wentz stepped up before the end of the half to keep the Eagles within striking distance, connecting on a 15-yard touchdown pass to pull the Eagles within eight points at the end of the first half.
“We didn’t start fast, obviously down at halftime, but found a way to win. That’s all that matters,” Ertz said. “Obviously facing a lot of adversity from a team standpoint, but they don’t care about that when we’re out on the field.”
The second half was a different ball game. The Eagles were dominant in the second half, holding the Giants to three points while scoring 14 more points.
Elliott drew first blood in the second half, narrowing the Giants’ lead to 19-14 by knocking through a 28-yard field goal.
The defense, led by defensive back Malcom Jenkins, forced two straight New York punts, awarding the ball back to Wentz and the offense. Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh wanted to pound the Giants on the ground, and running back Josh Adams took over. Adams carried to ball on six-of-eight plays including the two-point conversion. Adams garnered 30 yards rushing, a touchdown to give the Eagles the lead, and the two-point conversion to lead by a field goal. Wentz also completed a pass for 23 yards to RB Clement during the drive as the Eagles took control 22-19.
With 10 minutes left in regulation, Manning would pass to wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and tight end Rhett Ellison to march the Giants down into Eagles’ territory for a field goal to tie the game at 22-22.
With five minutes left in the game and needing to put at least an Elliott field goal on the board, Groh and Wentz had to budget time, but be efficient. Groh alternated pass and run plays for the first half of the drive, using Adams on the ground and passing to Alshon Jeffery and Ertz. Now with two minutes and 39 seconds on the clock, the Eagles faced a fourth-and-1 at the Giants’ 42-yard line. Wentz dropped back and completed a 12-yard pass to Nelson Agholor to the Giants’ 30-yard line.
“We love [the mesh concept] when teams play man,” Pederson said. “I believe the Giants ran it today and hit it for a third down conversion. It’s a good play, it’s a man-zone play, it’s something that’s been in our offense since I’ve been here.”
From there, the Eagles had the field position they wanted and let Adams drain the clock. With 22 seconds left, the Eagles called on Elliott to bring the game home, and he split the uprights on a 43-yard field goal for a critical 25-22 win.
“It’s been a couple of weeks since the guys felt this type of emotion, so they’re jazzed,” Pederson said. “It’s a great win against an obviously hot opponent.”
Carson Wentz finished the game 20-of-28 through the air for 236 yards and a touchdown with a rating of 108.6. His largest weapon both in size and playmaking ability was his week-in-week-out favorite Zach Ertz.
Ertz caught 7-of-8 targets for 91 yards and the Eagles’ only touchdown of the game through the air. Jeffery caught three passes for 31 yards, Goedert went three for 33, and Tate four for 30. Week 12 marked another game with Ertz as the Eagles’ leading receiver, while adding another touchdown to his Pro Bowl-caliber season.
The Eagles now climb to 5-6 and are only one game behind the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins for the NFC East lead, who sit at 6-5. The next two weeks will be crucial for the Eagles as they have matchups against both the Redskins and Cowboys. If the Eagles can emerge victorious the next two weeks, they will find themselves in a great position to claim the NFC East for a second straight season.
Kickoff against Washington next week is set for Monday night at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.