For the first time since the 2017 season when they won their first Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Eagles are headed back to the NFC Championship. The doubters and haters came out in droves prior to Saturday night's Divisional Round matchup between Philadelphia and the New York Giants. So, of course, like any other time the Eagles are underestimated, the Birds completely dominated.
Exactly five years after the Eagles beat the Minnesota Vikings, 38-7, to punch their ticket to Super Bowl 52, they defeated the Giants by the same exact score. From "Jalen Hurts is overrated" to "we almost beat them with our backups in Week 18" to "we weren't 100 percent in the first matchup." Those were just some of the excuses and hate that was being spewed coming in. Oh, and don't worry. Even though they proved themselves, once again, they are still being doubted. "They haven't played anyone", "The Giants aren't that good anyway", "They Cowboys or 49ers will kill them", etcetera, etcetera, f***ing etcetera. Well, I hate to break it to you - or I should say love to break it you, the Eagles don't care. In fact, they seem to play better when no one believes in them besides their fans. "No one likes us, we don't care!"
Coming Out Hot and Not Cooling Down
The game was really over before it even started. The Giants lost as soon as they beat the Vikings last week. The Eagles wasted absolutely no time in putting New York behind the eight ball. On the opening drive of the game, Philadelphia went down the field for an eight-play, 75-yard drive. On his first passing attempt, Hurts dropped it into the bucket for DeVonta Smith on a 40-yard pass, putting any concern about his shoulder to rest. Dallas Goedert then scored on a 16-yard one-handed catch-and-run, six plays later.
The Philly defense dominated, only allowing the Giants to convert just three first downs over their first six possessions. The Eagles forced back-to-back turnovers on the Giants' first two possessions, a turnover on downs and an interception - by who else but former Giant corner James Bradberry. Thanks for Bradberry, New York. This after the Eagles went on another over four minute drive which ended in a Smith nine-yard touchdown catch.
After their first punt to begin the second quarter, the Eagles came right back with another long drive following another Giants punt. A nine-play, 63-yard drive ended with a touchdown run from Giant killer Boston Scott. It was Scott's 11th touchdown versus the Giants in his career in nine games. In 52 games against everyone else, he has found the end zone just seven times. Hurts did it himself after another New York punt, running it in from five yards out to cap off a 14-play, 72 yard drive. That put the Eagles up 28-0 at halftime and they wouldn't pull a Chargers and blow the big lead.
In that first half, the Eagles outgained the Giants 258-64. The Eagles totaled 18 first downs, to just three for the Giants. They doubled New York's time of possession, 20:12 to 9:48.
They were key in situational football, going 6-of-7 on third down and 4-of-4 in the red zone. On defense, they allowed just 1-of-6 third and fourth down conversions with no trips to the red zone. As well as just 64 total yards. Hurts was 12-of-17 for 118 yards with 3 total touchdowns and a 129.0 passer rating.
Running Out the Clock
The teams traded punts before the Giants finally got on the board in their second drive of the second half. Saquon Barkley broke off a 39-yard run on third down, and Daniel Jones converted another third down with a scramble. Two plays later, Barkley took a direct snap and handed it off to Matt Brieda who ran it in for six. That was all the Giants would be able to muster, as the Eagles would hold steady and run a lot of the clock out the rest of the way. After the Giants punted on 4th-and-6 to begin the fourth quarter, Philadelphia made them pay by taking nearly eight minutes off the clock that ended with Jake Elliot kicking it through the uprights to make it 31-7. After forcing a turnover on downs, the Eagles pulled several starters with less than three minutes remaining, including Hurts. Kenneth Gainwell put the icing on the cake 35-yard touchdown run with two minutes remaining.
The rushing attack was led by Gainwell, who, after the last minute touchdown, finished with over 100 yards on the ground. The second-year running back out of Memphis averaged 9.3 yards per carry with 112 yards and the touchdown on 12 carries. With Sanders a free agent after the season, Gainwell is doing his best to put himself in good standing with the Philly brass. Sanders carried the ball 17 times for 90 yards for 5.3 YPC. Hurts finished 16-of-24 for 154 yards in the air and 34 yards on the ground. The leading receiver was Smith, who brought down six catches for 61 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Goedert had five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive side, Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat each had 1.5 sacks, while Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox each had one. Heddick and Darius Slay both had four total tackles and Sweat also forced a fumble. Bradberry had the one interception and two pass deflections. Jake Elliot was perfect on extra points (5-for-5) and made the only field goal attempt he had, from 30 yards. It was an all-around utter domination by the Eagles. Everyone knew their job and handled it with ease, from the special teamers, to the offense, defense, coaching, and second stringers.
After the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, 19-12, the Eagles will host them at The Linc on Sunday afternoon with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Let the tears roll down from Cowboys fans. Kickoff in the NFC Championship is set for 3:00 p.m. EST on FOX. The Eagles all-time record against the 49ers is 14-20-1. The only time they met in the postseason was the 1996 NFC Wild Card, with San Francisco winning 14-0. You can throw all that history out the window for this matchup, though. Stay tuned for a full preview of this matchup coming later this week.