It felt like the knockout punch.
When Saquon Barkley busted loose for a 51-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, it felt like the 2018 season was over. The Eagles were down 16 points in a must-win game at home to a team that’s been in the basement of the NFC East all season.
Please file out in an orderly fashion and get home safely.
“We didn’t accept it,” Malcolm Jenkins said.
“I think that was a turning point, especially in that game — who knows about our season — where that could have just continued to snowball out of control. But we weren’t going to allow that.”
The Eagles, of course, didn’t lose Sunday. They came back to beat the Giants, 25-22, to keep their season alive with a 5-6 record. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty. But they did it behind the strength of a defense that clamped down hard after that big touchdown run.
A lot of that, Jenkins said, is a credit to Jim Schwartz. The Eagles’ defensive coordinator listened to the pleas from Jenkins and other veterans to simplify the game plan to let them play faster after that Barkley touchdown. The Giants were using a quick tempo and the Eagles were struggling to communicate, especially with three relative newcomers in their secondary.
They needed a defense they didn’t need to think about. They wanted to just line up and play. They went bread-and-butter.
“It just gave us a little bit of a boost because guys could settle down, communicate, get lined up and at least be in position to make plays,” Jenkins said.
After the Barkley touchdown run in the second quarter, the Giants put up just three more points and the Eagles’ offense was able to do enough to pull out a win late in the game. On the very next drive after the adjustment, Jenkins had a huge interception to basically take points off the board as the teams went into the locker rooms; that was the play Cox called the turning point.
After scoring on their first four drives (19 points), the Giants scored just once (a field goal) in their last six drives. Now, it’s fair to question why Barkley didn’t get more touches in the second half, but that’s on the Giants. The Eagles stopped the guys they put on the field.
Check out the Giants’ production by half:
First half: 346 yards, 19 points, 4 for 6 on third down
Second half: 56 yards, 3 points, 1 for 6 on third down
The Eagles’ defense forced the Giants to punt on their first three drives of the second half and eventually, the Eagles’ offense was able to tie the game and then get a long field goal drive to win the game after the Eagles gave up a field goal.
The Eagles relied on their defensive line to pressure Eli Manning in the second half and they came through. The Eagles had their only two sacks in the second half.
“They just showed a toughness that they were going to fight for 60 minutes, and that was the message at halftime,” Doug Pederson said.
The Eagles’ 2018 season seemed awfully close to ended very prematurely Sunday afternoon. Jenkins asserted his teammates didn’t have enough fight the previous week in New Orleans, but no one could argue that in this game. Sure, the Eagles defense got knocked to the canvas, but it got back up.
And it came out swinging.
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