EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Heads I win, tails you lose.
It seems like that’s how easy it’s been for the Eagles to win coin tosses this year. While they pulled their win-loss record to an even 3-3 with the big 34-13 win over the Giants, they remain undefeated in coin tosses.
In all six games this season, the Eagles have won the opening coin toss. And in all six games, they have deferred to the second half.
That paid off in a big way Thursday night.
On the second snap of the night, the Eagles were in Cover 2, so Jordan Hicks expected Eli Manning to check the ball down in the middle of the field to Scott Simonson. He was right.
“He’s been pretty consistent with that,” Hicks said. “I read it, jumped it.”
Hicks didn’t intercept the ball, but he did tip it to Kamu Grugier-Hill, who reeled it in his first career interception and then ran 24 yards to get the Eagles well into field goal range at the 16-yard line.
“I thought he was going to get in the end zone,” Hicks said, breaking into a sheepish grin. “He’s not fast enough for that, though. He weighs 230 now, he’s not 220 anymore.”
No need to worry, though. The Eagles' offense punched in a touchdown three plays later on a beautiful pass from Carson Wentz across his body to Alshon Jeffery in the back of the end zone.
The Eagles went up 7-0. They never trailed. And they went on to absolutely demolish the Giants in the first game of their NFC East schedule.
It all got going with a big defensive play, the kind of defensive play the Eagles have been waiting to make on one of these opening drives.
“Honestly, the hero on that play was Jordan,” Grugier-Hill said. “He had a great break. I was just standing there at the right place, right time. But to come out like that, that was a huge emphasis this week, starting fast. Just getting back to being us was a big emphasis.”
Here’s how their previous defensive first drives have gone after winning the toss and deferring:
Game 1: Gave up 74 yards to the Falcons but got a 4th-down stand at the goal line
Game 2: Gave up a 75-yard touchdown to DeSean Jackson
Game 3: Forced a 3-and-out against the Colts
Game 4: Gave up 51 yards and a 42-yard FG to the Titans
Game 5: Gave up 65 yards, but the Vikings missed a 28-yard FG
Game 6: Gave up eight yards to the Giants before the INT
In the Eagles’ three wins this season, they haven’t given up points on the first drive of the game.
But, obviously, giving their own offense the ball inside the red zone as they did Thursday night is nearly the best possible outcome.
“It was great,” Fletcher Cox said. “To get that interception early in the game kind of set the pace. Offense went down and they took care of business.”
Grugier-Hill didn’t make it to the end zone, but he was still pretty thrilled to get his first career interception. He made sure he kept the ball and said he’ll probably display it somewhere in his house.
Maybe it’ll be a reminder of the moment the Eagles began to turn their 2018 season around.