Vick-less Eagles Visit Giants, Victory Is Only Option to Keep Playoff Hopes Faintly Alive
Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said the time to get angry has passed, now it's all about winning.
METLIFE STADIUM, EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Eagles (3-6) visit the Giants (6-3) tonight on Sunday Night Football, knowing that even they may need to admit their season is over with a loss tonight. The Eagles have tried to rally after a 1-4 start, but weren’t able to sustain it as a pair of wins was followed by a pair of losses. Now, rallying time is over. There’s only one thing left to do, and it doesn’t involve getting angry or taking on an “us against the world,” mentality.
“That point was when we had our four game losing streak, you know, that point was against Chicago,” said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. “After that loss, at this point, you just have to go out and win. The getting mad and all that type of stuff, if you were going to get mad, you should’ve gotten mad then. Now we’ve just got to go out and win, find a way to win.”
The Eagles will have to do so without two of their best players on offense. Star quarterback Michael Vick is out with two broken ribs, while leading wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is out due to a shoulder sprain and hamstring strain. The Eagles are also without third cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, which will limit some of their options with Asomugha, who often moves around and plays different positions.
On the flip side, Nate Allen returns at safety after missing a game with a concussion and Evan Mathis returns at left guard just in time, as his replacement, King Dunlap, is out with a concussion.
The big storyline still revolves around the absence of Vick and how his backup, Vince Young, will handle the opportunity. Young is 30-17 all-time as a starter, with all of those games coming in Tennessee.
“I’m definitely happy, definitely happy to be playing,” said Young this week. “But at the same time, like I said, it’s not about me, it’s not about me at all, it’s all about the team.”
Young was the third overall draft pick in 2005, but he never truly blossomed with the Titans, throwing 42 touchdowns and 42 interceptions over five seasons. Young went to a pair of Pro Bowls, but his time in Tennessee came to a bitter end.
Last year, after suffering an injury to his throwing hand and deeming himself ready to return, Young threw his equipment into the stands when he was kept on the sidelines by head coach Jeff Fisher. The two had a disagreement in the locker room, and Young didn’t play for the Titans again. Fisher was fired, as well.
That led to Young signing with the Eagles, who needed a quality backup for the oft-injured Michael Vick. The superstar has been injured at least five times in a season and a half in Philadelphia.
Young has spelled Vick for a few plays due to bumps and bruises and is 0-1 with an interception during that limited play. Still, he’s looked sharp in practice and his teammates say they’re confident.
“We’ve been practicing with him throughout the whole year,” DeSean Jackson said. “He’s caught on to the offense in a pretty good way, so we’re just trying to keep it simplest for him and not try to put too much pressure on him, but he’s a good quarterback.”
Perhaps the Eagles will try to make it easier on Young by leaning on LeSean McCoy, who sits second in the NFL in rushing yards coming into this week. After setting a career high with 30 carries for 185 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-7 win over the Cowboys, McCoy has been given the ball just 30 times total in his last two games, running for 152 yards and two scores. The Eagles lost both games.
On the flip side, Eli Manning is in the midst of one of his best seasons as a pro. The Giants quarterback has completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,688 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Manning’s 2.125 touchdown to interception ratio is the best of his career.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. “I think the games that he’s won in the fourth quarter have really made a difference. With the things that he started doing at the beginning of the year, the pass concepts that they were using – I don’t want to use the word safe, but they were literally different than the pass concepts they’re using now. They’re going more down the field. I mean, what it is it looks like the coordinator and the quarterback have confidence in each other.”
Manning has guided the Giants to four fourth quarter come from behind wins and orchestrated five game winning touchdown drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. On the flip side, the Eagles have blown five fourth quarter leads and the Birds have no game-winning drives.
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