EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Thanks, Giants.
After a couple ugly losses, the Eagles bounced back with a prime-time 34-13 win over a wretched Giants team Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. The Eagles are 10-2 in their last 12 games at the Meadowlands and 7-2 all-time at MetLife.
The two-game road losing streak is history. The two-game losing streak overall is history. The Eagles are back to .500 at 3-3 with a mini-bye coming up.
Let's take a look with 10 observations!
1. This is the Eagles team I expected to see a month ago. It took a while, and it took a terrible Giants team to help bring it out, but we finally saw the Eagles play a complete game on both sides of the ball, and the result was a comfortable 34-13 win over the Giants. I don’t care who the opponent was or how wretched it is — the Eagles needed this. They needed a win. They needed a road win. They needed a fast start and they needed to shut the door and take away a team’s heart early, and they did that. They still have a long way to go, but this was a very big step.
2. I love the aggressiveness and playmaking we saw early on from the defense. Before the end of the first quarter, the Eagles got a big red-zone stop, a Kamu Grugier-Hill interception off a Jordan Hicks deflection and a Michael Bennett strip sack of Eli Manning down to the Giants’ 1-yard line. It was the brand of really hyper-charged defense we haven’t seen much of this year, and it really set the tone for the Eagles as they built a 14-3 first-quarter lead and then just rolled from there. I thought the defense played with more aggression Thursday than we’ve seen all year. And it tackled better than it has tackled all year.
3. We’re really seeing Carson Wentz just get more and more comfortable each week, and I thought Thursday night was really the first time he totally looked like 2017 Wentz in terms of playing at the speed of the game, recognition and comfort in the pocket. Look at Wentz’s stats through four games: 108 for 159 (68 percent) for 1,192 yards, with eight TDs and one interception. That’s without the benefit of a preseason. With poor protection for much of the season. With a constantly rotating group of receivers. He's opened the season by becoming the first quarterback in franchise history with four straight games with 65 percent completion percentage and 250 passing yards. He’s just so freaking consistently good it’s insane.
4. I give Lane Johnson so much credit for going out there and battling on a high ankle sprain. You could see him hobbling around between plays, but he actually performed at a high level. Johnson limped off the field after the third quarter, but don’t you know he tried to go back into the game. Jeff Stoutland wasn’t having any of it. Johnson’s night was over with the Eagles up three touchdowns. What a warrior.
5. The Eagles’ red-zone defense is such a weapon. With the Giants going 0 for 3 Thursday night, the Eagles have allowed just seven touchdowns on 21 red-zone drives this year, and that 33 percent figure is second best in the NFL. A lot goes into red-zone defense, but the cornerbacks’ aggressiveness and physical play is a big part of it. Jalen Mills has had his issues between the 20s, but he’s really a very good corner in the red zone, where his lack of burner speed isn’t a factor but his aggressiveness and physical nature is huge. The Eagles are still giving up too many big plays to allow teams down inside the 20, but once they get there, the Eagles are exceptional.
6. It was really encouraging to see Nelson Agholor finally have a typical Nelson Agholor type of game. He came in with just 212 receiving yards in five games but had a 58-yarder and a 32-yarder — two of his three-longest catches this year — and the 32-yarder was a real nice adjustment on a deflected ball that helped get the offense going early. Just a very heads-up play.
7. I love everything Corey Clement brings to the table, and I just think the kid is going to be a stud. He’s still limited with that quad that kept him out of the Titans and Vikings games, but he really made an impact on the game with just a handful of snaps, going 11 for 43 rushing with a touchdown and 3 for 26 receiving. That's 69 yards on 14 touches. Terrific production. Clement now has nine career touchdowns in limited snaps. He’s got a real nose for the end zone. I’d love to see him get 15-18 touches a game once he’s healthy.
8. I just can’t believe how bad Manning played. Looks like he has no arm left at all. Brutal.
9. The Eagles lost Sidney Jones early with a hamstring injury and lost Mills for a bit in the fourth quarter and they had Rasul Douglas at safety, Avonte Maddox moving back and forth between safety and nickel, and even Tre Sullivan — who just re-signed — on the field for some reps. Now think about this: Ronald Darby, Mills and Sullivan are 24. Douglas is 23. Jones and Maddox are 22. Malcolm Jenkins was the only defensive back the Eagles had in uniform Thursday older than 24. Mills has taken a lot of heat and some of it has been deserved, but the reality is that this is a very deep, very versatile and very talented group of young defensive backs, and they all played at a high level Thursday night.
10. Have to mention Saquon Barkley, who is one of the most impressive young running backs I’ve ever seen. His combination of power and balance reminds you of Barry Sanders, but he looks like he’s a more polished receiver than Sanders. With 130 yards rushing and 99 receiving he came up one yard shy of becoming the first player with 100 yards rushing and receiving against the Eagles since Herschel Walker of the Cowboys, who had 122 rushing and 170 receiving in a game at Texas Stadium in 1986. Astonishing talent.
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