Eagles earn first-round bye behind Foles, top seed next?
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) One down, one to go for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Nick Foles replaced the injured Carson Wentz and threw four touchdown passes, and the NFC East champion Eagles (12-2) secured a well-deserved first-round bye in the playoffs with a harder-than-expected 34-29 win over the New York Giants on Sunday.
Philadelphia can wrap-up NFC home-field advantage next weekend either with a Minnesota loss at Green Bay on Saturday or an Eagles win at home over Oakland on Christmas (Monday) night.
”It’s something this organization earned and we have to keep on fighting and have the same mindset that got us to this position and keep on winning football games, stay hungry,” said Nelson Agholor, one of four receivers to catch a Foles touchdown.
What’s been remarkable for the Eagles is the way they have overcome season-ending injuries to Wentz, offensive lineman Jason Peters, linebacker Jordan Hicks, running back Darren Sproles, and kicker Caleb Sturgis.
Wentz went down last week with an ACL and the Eagles never missed a beat with Foles, who finished off a win at the Rams, and on Sunday went 24 of 38 for 237 yards and no picks.
”Obviously everyone is thinking about Carson, and Carson got us here,” defensive lineman Chris Long said. ”He is a hell of a player, but Nick just showed what he is all about. Outside the locker room there was a lot of panic about what the offense was going to look like. People were wondering if we were going to need to bring someone in. No, we don’t need to bring someone in. Nick is a hell of a quarterback.”
The Eagles rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to win. They made a late stand on first-and-goal in the final minute in spoiling a three-touchdown, season-high 434-yard passing game by Eli Manning.
Foles clearly is no Wentz. He is more of a pocket passer, and there were times in the game when Wentz clearly would have been scrambling for a first down. Foles carried twice for zero yards, but hit Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton and Agholor on scoring passes.
Philadelphia will play its final two regular-season game at home and then wait for the conference semifinal.
Manning hit Tavarres King on two touchdowns and Sterling Shepard on one. Orleans Darkwa scored on a short run and Aldrick Rosas kicked a 28-yard field goal.
FOLES ON FOLES
The Eagles re-signed Foles in the offseason. He had played in only three games with the Chiefs last season, starting one. His touchdowns were his first in 14 months.
”It’s really special,” the 28-year-old said. ”I mean this whole journey and being back in Philly, it’s crazy if I’m being honest just wearing the Eagles jersey. To go back to Philly and wear it, I take a lot of pride in that. I can’t say enough about our guys. They made some big plays today to help with those touchdowns, they made some big plays. But yeah, it’s been a special moment for sure.”
The Eagles had a field day torturing Giants kickers. They blocked an extra point, punt and field goal. The block on the punt set up a touchdown.
The last time a team had a hat trick of blocked kicks was the Buffalo Bills against New England on Nov. 24, 1991.
Derek Barnett knocked down the extra point on the Giants’ first touchdown. Kamu Grugier-Hill blocked a punt in the second quarter, leading to the score that gave the Eagles a 21-20 lead.
Malcolm Jenkins set up the Eagles’ final points by blocking a 48-yard field goal attempt by Aldrick Rosas. Fourteen plays later, Jake Elliott booted a 20-yarder to give Philadelphia a 34-29 lead in the fourth quarter.
It’s been a tough year for Manning. He was benched earlier this month to end his consecutive games played streak at 210 while suffering through a humiliating season.
The veteran showed there is still life in his 36-year-old arm in both loses to the Eagles. He threw for 366 yards earlier in the season against them, and topped that Sunday.
”We know what he’s capable of and that showed today,” Giants interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said.
Manning was 37 of 57 with one interception.
HOME FIELD DISADVANTAGE
Many Giants fans stayed home, freeing up tickets for Eagles supporters who made the trip up the New Jersey Turnpike.
They made their presence felt, especially in the fourth quarter. Chants of ”DEFENSE, DEFENSE” rang out when the Giants had the ball.
On the Giants’ final failed drive deep into Eagles territory, the Philadelphia fans made so much noise Manning said the offense had trouble hearing the calls, causing right tackle Bobby Hart to jump offside. That penalty cost New York five valuable yards after it had pushed down to the Philadelphia 6-yard line.
”I don’t blame our fans,” Manning said. ”It bothers me that that’s the way this season turned out. We didn’t do our part. You’re playing late in the year and you’re not playing for a place in the playoffs.”
INJURIES: The Giants had safety Landon Collins and linebacker B.J. Goodson leave after aggravating ankle injuries. King suffered a concussion on his 57-yard TD catch which ended with a dive into the end zone. Eagles nickel cornerback Patrick Robinson left in the second half to be evaluated for a concussion. Eagles tight end Trey Burton, who caught a TD after the blocked punt, was limited in the second half by cramps.
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