Eagles clinch NFC East and first-round by with win over Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Nick Foles replaced the injured Carson Wentz, and nothing really changed for the Philadelphia Eagles.
They got four touchdown passes from their quarterback, like they did a week ago, and won again to secure a first-round playoff bye.
Another ho-hum day for the best team in the NFC and NFC East champions.
Foles hit four different receivers on touchdown passes ranging from 3 to 13 yards in his first start, and the Eagles (12-2) rallied from an early 14-point deficit to defeat the surprising New York Giants 34-29 on Sunday.
“I thought he played well,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said of Foles. “There are some things he would like to do over. Every game is going be that way. I thought he handled himself extremely well, a lot of poise. He did a nice job.”
There was speculation the Eagles would rely on their running game this week against the Giants (2-12) to give Foles time to adjust to the offense. Pederson ruled that out.
“With him coming out and saying he’s not changing anything, it says a lot about his confidence in me and his confidence in the players in the offense,” said Foles, who completed 24 of 38 passes for 237 yards and no interceptions.
Foles clearly is no Wentz. He is more 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.
The Eagles made a late stand on first-and-goal in the final minute in edging the Giants for the second time this season, spoiling a three-touchdown, season-high 434-yard passing game by Eli Manning.
“We know what he’s capable of and that showed today,” Giants interim coach Steve Spagnuolo said after Manning’s ninth 400-yard game.
Manning, who threw for 366 yards earlier this year against the Eagles, said the Giants had a good game plan.
“We got the ball out quickly, playing fast with some tempo stuff,” said the 36-year-old who finished 37 of 57. “I think that confused them a little bit.”
Foles hit Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton and Nelson Agholor on scoring passes ranging from 3 to 13 yards in filling in for Wentz, who tore an ACL last week and was lost for the season after a brilliant year.
The Eagles also got two field goals from Jake Elliott and three blocked kicks from their special teams, foiling an extra point, a punt and field goal. The block on the punt set up a touchdown.
Philadelphia will play its final two regular-season game at home and then wait for the conference semifinal.
“It’s obviously something great,” Foles said of the bye. “I was fortunate to be a part of it last year in Kansas City. We still have a lot of work to do this season. The big thing is you let your body recover.”
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.
Manning drove the Giants from their 25 with 3:56 to play to the Eagles 9 with about a minute to go. A 2-yard loss on a pass to Shepard, an incompletion in the end zone and 5-yard run by Shane Vereen got New York to the Philadelphia 6 with 48 seconds to play. Right tackle Bobby Hart had a procedure penalty on fourth down, putting the ball at the 11.
Manning then threw a pass to Evan Engram at the back of the end zone that was high and incomplete. The Giants complained bitterly after the play that Eagles safety Corey Graham held the rookie tight end’s left arm and should have been called for pass interference.
“I definitely thought it was defensive pass interference,” Engram said. “Fourth down. It was really obvious, but no call.”
The Giants led 23-21 at the half and the Eagles took the lead for good in the third quarter on a 28-yard field goal by Elliott and a 10-yard TD catch by Agholor.
Leading 20-6, mistakes by Manning and special teams got the Eagles back in the game in a less than three-minute span in the second quarter.
A 37-yard interception return by Ronald Darby to the Giants 18 set up Foles’ second touchdown pass, a 10-yarder to Ertz, cutting New York’s lead to 20-14. Kamu Grugier-Hill blocked Brad Wing’s punt on the Giants’ next series. Foles found a wide-open Burton on a 13-yard pass to give the Eagles a 21-20 lead.
Rosas had a go-ahead 28-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the half for a 23-21 lead.
The last time a team had a hat trick of blocked kicks was the Buffalo Bills against New England on Nov. 24, 1991.
Eagles: host Oakland on Dec. 25.
Giants: at Arizona on Sunday.
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