Vince Young Guides Game-Winning Drive, Eagles Top Giants 17-10
After struggling early, Vince Young led an 18-play, 80-yard drive for the game-winning touchdown, an 8-yard pass to Riley Cooper.
METLIFE STADIUM, EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Vince Young led the game-winning drive, filling in for an injured Michael Vick, and the Philadelphia Eagles defense played with a mean streak, reminiscent of Eagles-Giants battles of the past, in a 17-10 victory over the New York Giants. Young hit Riley Cooper for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 2:45 remaining to put the Eagles back on top and Jason Babin sacked Eli Manning deep in Eagles territory, forcing a fumble that Derek Landri recovered with 1:17 remaining to prevent the Giants quarterback from mounting yet another comeback win.
LeSean McCoy sealed the deal with a 60-yard run down to the Giants’ 3-yardline with under a minute remaining, as the Eagles kept their dim playoff hopes alive, improving to 4-6. Philadelphia now sits two games back of the Giants and Cowboys, both 6-4. The Eagles have now split the season series with the Giants and have guaranteed at least a split against the Cowboys and also hold the best record in NFC East play, at 3-1.
Philadelphia’s victory over New York was fueled by a dominating defensive performance characterized by bone-jarring hits, swarming to the ball and pushing the limits, sometimes even stepping across the line to set the tone.
After the two teams traded punts, the Eagles had their first chance to make a big play, with DeSean Jackson burning rookie Prince Amakumara down the sideline in the cornerback’s debut. Young underthrew the ball badly, though, and the former Cornhusker had his first career interception.
Three plays later, Eli Manning fired a bullet over the middle directly to Eagles linebacker Jamar Chaney. During the return, defensive tackle Trevor Laws and linebacker Brian Rolle leveled Eli Manning, a la Hugh Douglas on Jim Miller. Manning, however, was not attempting to make a play on Chaney. By new rules, that made the quarterback defenseless and a flag was thrown.
A scrum ensued, with the Giants drawing a matching penalty. They equaled out, but the Eagles had sent a message.
“Probably one of the 18 fights that we got in,” said Kurt Coleman when asked what set the tone. “For myself, after that first fight me and Brandon Jacobs got into, I was revved up for the whole game, you know, I was ready to go to blows all four quarters.”
While the Eagles offense was still struggling, mostly due to Young’s inaccuracy, the Birds defense was thriving. While the Eagles and Giants traded a pair of punts, the Eagles were stuffing the run and getting in Manning’s face consistently, including a split sack by Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp.
On their first drive of the second quarter, the Eagles finally hit a big play, as DeSean Jackson broke wide open near the sideline and made a lunging grab for a 32-yard gain. Jackson injured his right knee on the play and later returned, but the Eagles cashed in with a 33-yard Alex Henery field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, the Eagles answered another Vince Young interception with a joint sack by Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, pushing the Giants back onto their side of the field. Then DeSean Jackson left his mark on the game, for better or worse.
Backed up at their own 2-yardline, the Eagles took a shot and Young found Jackson open for a 50-yard gain. Jackson was wrestled out of bounds and tossed the ball to Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, taunting him and his players. The officials took notice and Jackson was flagged.
Normally that would result in the yardage being marked off after the gain, but Giants lineman Linval Joseph had been flagged behind the play for illegal hands to the face. That made for offsetting penalties and forced the Eagles to replay the down from their 2-yardline. They eventually punted, and Jackson sought out Reid on the sideline.
“I had a little talk with him, just to make sure we were straight and he stepped back up and did a nice job,” Reid said.
Philadelphia’s defense forced a three and out, and Jackson jogged out to field the punt return. He had been trading off with Chad Hall throughout the night. Reid wouldn’t comment on whether Jackson asked to be out there to make up for his mistake, but either way, he made up for it.
Jackson fielded the punt at the 35-yardline, the same place he fielded his game-winning return over the Giants last yaer, and reversed field, backtracking to the 30, similar to last year’s return, to get to the right edge. Then number 10 raced down the sideline, that same right sideline, towards the end zone. Jackson tried to tip toe past Giants punter Steve Weatherford, but stepped out at the 14-yardline.
After the game, Reid was asked if Jackson’s combination of frustrating penalties and tantalizing huge plays was maddening. The Eagles head coach paused and smirked.
“When he’s returning those long punts, I find him… quite appealing,” Reid said. ”I think you guys know that I enjoy the kid. He’s got that youthful energy, so I enjoy him, try to be as honest with him as I can and so that’s how we go about business.”
It took the Eagles just one play to finish what Jackson started. With the winded receiver on the sideline, Steve Smith took his place and Young hit him on a drag route for a 14-yard touchdown on a play originally designed for Jackson. Smith particularly enjoyed celebrating in the end zone of his former team.
“It’s a great feeling,” Smith said. “It’s like a cherry on top of the win to be able to make a play and contribute, and especially against my old team.”
CONTINUE READING: YOUNG’S GAME WINNING DRIVE, JACKSON’S KNEE INJURY
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