Saquon Barkley put up a peace sign, saying goodbye to the Eagles’ defense at midfield before finishing off his 68-yard touchdown run with his signature swimming celebration.
Outside of those 68 yards, Barkley didn’t have much to celebrate Sunday. The New York Giants’ star running back managed just 24 yards on his other 16 carries, good for 1.5 yards per attempt.
The Eagles defense has long held the belief that 20 points from the offense should be enough to win the game, and the group delivered on its promise during the team’s 34-17 win against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The victory clinched first place in the NFC East and granted the Eagles a playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field next weekend.
“[We were] just rallying to the ball,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “You know he’s someone who can makes guys miss, but once he makes one miss the next guy’s got to be coming. When he’s shaking and doing all that [juking,] he’s stopping his feet. As he’s stopping his feet, we have to keep running ours. Gang tackling is big with him.”
Graham had one sack and three tackles for losses on Sunday, even though he missed some time in the third quarter with a neck injury.
The Eagles had several injuries in the game, and defensive back Craig James was occupying the medical tent when Graham got hurt, forcing Graham to wait in line for the trainers’ undivided attention.
“I was just like, ‘Oh, [shoot,]” Graham said. "I thought they put the tent up for me, but it was for somebody else. I was like 'Who else hurt?’”
Barkley was coming off his best performance of the season against Washington last week. He had 189 rushing yards, 90 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Last year, he surpassed 100 yards on the ground in both games against the Eagles. This season, he failed to hit triple digits, getting 92 yards on 17 carries Sunday.
Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said the long run Barkley broke off came on a spontaneous play the Giants drew up.
“I think they went to the sideline and schemed up a play for us and what we were trying to do to him to stop the run,” Cox said. “They schemed it up and hit us. ... He’s a really good football player.”
Cox recovered a Daniel Jones fumble on the Giants’ 2-yard line early in the fourth quarter with the Eagles leading by just a field goal. Boston Scott scored on the next play, essentially sealing the game.
Three of the Eagles’ sacks came in the fourth quarter while protecting their lead.
"We just kept coming,' Graham said. “We knew that they were going to max protect and they did. They got the ball out, but we got off the field on some and some they made plays. We just kept coming and soon as he gave us that one little hitch, we were right there. Once they come, they come in bunches.”