They were 4-for-13 on third down. They were 3-for-8 in the red zone. But the Eagles managed to do enough good things Thursday night to erase an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit and beat the Giants by the hair on Jason Kelce’s chinny-chin-chin. How’d they do it? Glad you asked:
With Miles Sanders out with a knee injury, Boston Scott dusted off the cobwebs and was the Eagles' primary running back against the Giants. Last year, the former practice-squad player was instrumental in the Eagles' critical December wins over the Giants. He had 129 yards from scrimmage in the Eagles' Week 14 overtime win and had three rushing TDs in their division-clinching Week 17 victory.
On Thursday night, he finished with 92 yards from scrimmage, rushing for 46 yards on 12 carries and catching three passes for another 46 yards. He caught the game-winning 18-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz with 40 seconds left following a near-fatal Kelce facemask penalty that turned a second-and-goal at the 3 into a first-and-goal at the 18.
Scott made a terrific catch with Giants safety Jabrill Peppers draped all over him. Earlier in the same drive, Scott had 12- and 4-yard runs.
The Eagles came into the game with just five takeaways in their first six games. Their minus-7 turnover differential was the second-worst in the league.
Their luck finally changed against the Giants. They had a season-high three takeaways.
Safety Jalen Mills had a second-quarter interception, a diving catch on a Daniel Jones pass that went off tight end Evan Engram’s hands. The Eagles didn’t convert the interception into points. But it did thwart a promising Giants drive at midfield.
Later in the second quarter, Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat forced a fumble from running back Dion Lewis. That turnover also was squandered when Jake Elliott missed a 29-yard field goal. But again, at least it prevented the Giants from scoring any points.
The final Eagles takeaway was a strip-sack by Brandon Graham with 29 seconds left after the Eagles had taken a one-point lead on Scott’s touchdown catch.
The Giants were at their 23-yard line. But they only needed a field goal to win. Their kicker, Graham Gano, was 15-for-16 this season, including kicks of 55, 54, 52, and 50 yards.
Graham beat a double-team by Lewis and Giants right tackle Cameron Fleming and knocked the ball out of Daniel Jones' hands to ice the win. It was his team-high sixth sack of the season.
Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Jalen Reagor, and Miles Sanders all are hurt. Alshon Jeffery still hasn’t been given the green light to play. DeSean Jackson came back, caught three passes and was gone again with a high ankle sprain.
Carson Wentz’s receiving corps Thursday night against the Giants included a tight end -- Richard Rodgers -- who had played in just eight games and had caught one pass the previous two seasons; three former practice-squad players -- Scott, Greg Ward, and Travis Fulgham; a rookie fourth-round pick, John Hightower, and a second-year player, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, with one reception in the first six games.
Rodgers, Scott, Ward, Fulgham, and Hightower were targeted a combined 32 times by Wentz Thursday. They caught 20 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns, the game-winner by Scott, and a 3-yard scoring catch by the ever-reliable Ward with 4:38 left that got the Eagles to within five points.
Rodgers had six catches for 85 yards, the second-most yards of his career. He had key back-to-back 11- and 30-yard receptions that kick-started the Eagles' game-winning touchdown drive.
Fulgham has established instant chemistry with Wentz. He had another excellent game, catching five passes for 73 yards.
Ward had five catches for 42 yards, including the 3-yard touchdown catch. He also had two third-down catches for first downs, including a 14-yard reception on a third-and-10 that set up a second-quarter Jake Elliott field goal.
And Wentz found Hightower on a 59-yard completion on the first of the Eagles' two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
Four days after nearly bringing the Eagles back from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Ravens, Wentz brought the Eagles back from 11 points down in the final six minutes Thursday to beat the Giants.
Wentz’s overall performance can best be described as inconsistent. He was 4-for-4 for 40 yards on the Eagles' game-opening 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. And he was 5-for-7 for 121 yards and two touchdowns on the Eagles' final two fourth-quarter possessions.
But on the 10 possession in between, he completed just 16 of 32 passes and made some really, really bad decisions, including throwing an up-for-grabs interception in the second quarter when the Eagles had the ball at the Giants' 20-yard line.
But when the Eagles needed him late in the game, Wentz was money. He connected with Hightower on the 59-yarder, then hit Ward for a 3-yard TD two plays later with another perfect throw.
On the Eagles' game-winning drive, he completed three of his four passes -- the 11- and 30-yard throws to Rodgers and the 18-yard game-winner to Scott.
Wentz was under pressure on 42% of his dropbacks Thursday night. But on the throw to Scott, he was able, for one of the few times in the game, to step up in the pocket. He made a perfect throw to the running back. It wasn’t an easy catch, but if Wentz hadn’t delivered it where he did, Scott would have had no chance to make the catch.
Wentz once again made a valuable contribution to the run game. Even though he finished with just 14 yards on seven carries, he had three rushing first downs, including a 3-yard gain on a fourth-and-1 on the Eagles' first touchdown drive. He capped off the drive with his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. The only quarterback in the league with more rushing TDs than Wentz is the Cardinals' Kyler Murray (six).
Let’s face it: If Giants tight end Evan Engram catches that third-and-7 pass from Daniel Jones with 2:09 left, this story would be five reasons why the Eagles lost, not five reasons why they won.