The Eagles have had one of the best special teams units in the NFL for the last several years, but the last few weeks have been a little disappointing. They just hadn't lived up to their incredibly high standard.
That changed Sunday in East Rutherford (see story).
In the 34-29 win over the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the Eagles' special teams group made some huge plays that helped the team squeak out the win. In fact, they became the first NFL team to block an extra point, field goal and punt in the same game since the 1991 Bills.
"All week we knew we could do things here, pick apart them here," Kamu Grugier-Hill said, "so we went in with a really good plan and we executed."
Let's take a look at all three of those huge plays:
The Giants just cruised down the field on the opening drive of the game. They went 75 yards on 13 plays and made it look pretty easy. The extra point, even after moving it back, is still pretty much a formality in the NFL. But rookie Derek Barnett (circled) was about to go hard on this play.
Barnett simply uses a quick swim move to go right past left tackle Ereck Flowers, who didn't give much effort. It looked like he was worried about the rush coming inside, but Barnett got around him really easily and had a clear path to the kick. Sure, the Eagles overloaded that side, but Flowers didn't block anyone.
Barnett got his right hand up and rejected the kick like a basketball player swatting a jump shot.
Take a look at the video. Nice swim move from Barnett, but the Giants just need to get some better effort out of a veteran player who looked like he took a special teams play off.
At the time, maybe this play didn't seem huge, but the Eagles drove down the field on the ensuing drive to take a 7-6 lead. And eventually, when the Giants scored to make it a two-point game in late in the third, they went for two and failed.
This next play came with 3:23 left in the first half. The Giants had a three-and-out and are punting the ball away. They're up 20-14 at this point. Grugier-Hill (circled) is going to end up getting the block on this play, but it's going to be set up by Bryan Braman, who just got back into town earlier in the week.
At the snap, Braman pushes inside, which creates a lane for Grugier-Hill. Darian Thompson (circled in green) should pick up Grugier-Hill coming through the line, but instead tries to help block Braman, who garners plenty of attention himself.
The result is Grugier-Hill's coming with a free lane to the punter to force the block.
This blocked punt gave Nick Foles and the Eagles' offense the ball at the Giants' 18-yard line. Three plays later, Foles hit a wide-open Trey Burton for a 13-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 21-20 lead with just over two minutes left in the half.
This is the most fun one.
The last play we'll look at was a 48-yard field goal attempt from the Giants early in the fourth quarter. Malcolm Jenkins (circled), who has amazingly played 139 special teams snaps this year on top of his huge workload on defense, is going to make the play.
At the snap, Brandon Graham (circled) takes a step back, which leaves offensive lineman Jon Halapio off-balance. Halapio's momentum took him forward to block, but then there was nothing there, so he literally fell down.
Had Graham pushed forward, the lineman would have blocked him, but it would have created more congestion at the line. In this case, Halapio was completely out of the way.
Once Halapio falls down, it creates enough of a hole for Jenkins (circled) to jump through and have a straight path to the field goal attempt. Meanwhile, Ronald Darby was coming off the edge and got close too.
"We saw some things on tape that we knew we could attack," Jenkins said. "I've been close a few times over the years, but wasn't able to get one. I was able to come through clean and get a hand on the ball."
At this point, the Giants were down just two points. If they make this field goal, they take a fourth-quarter lead.
These three blocks were huge on Sunday afternoon. Sure, the third-quarter neutral zone infraction from Najee Goode was a big play. It allowed the Giants to stay on the field and then score a touchdown. But as PhillyVoice's Jimmy Kempski pointed out, it sure looks like Goode was drawn off. Goode still can't jump there in a 4th-and-4 situation.
But aside from that penalty, the Eagles got the kind of game from their special teams unit that they desperately needed. And it got them a win on Sunday.